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4 Books Every Musician Should Read

By Lee Eigner

This is Your Brain on Music – Daniel Levitin

This ambitious book attempts to answer some of the most fundamental, and arguably the most intricate, questions about the relationship between the human mind and music. In This is Your Brain on Music author Daniel Levitin uses rudimentary music theory, cognitive psychology, neurobiology, memory theory and behavioral sciences to try and figure out why music makes us feel the way we feel. He uses mountains of theories, studies, statistics and facts to try and answer age old questions like what accounts for a person’s taste in music, and what constitutes a person as a ‘music expert’. The beauty of this book is how evident the stringency of Levitin’s research and evidence becomes to the reader, but at the same time that stringency is met with the passion and depth of emotion only found in a music aficionado. This is a must read for any musician or music lover who has ever thought about the effect of music on the mind.

Miles: The Autobiography – Miles Davis

Jazz virtuoso and music icon Miles Davis is one of the most revered artists in American culture. In his own book, Mr. Davis gives the reader an inside look into his extraordinary life. With a narrative that drips of Davis’ simple and easygoing tone, we are thrown into the deep end of a story that holds very little back. With brutal honesty the reader is shown the world of Miles Davis, and all the horrors and beauty it has to offer. From racism in society and the music industry to his troubles with parenting his children, Mr. Davis gives his fans an unique perspective on the journey that created one of music’s most memorable and prolific artists. A journey filled with cocaine and cognac, as well as domestic violence and genius insight. Miles is one of the most celebrated autobiographies ever written by a musician, and is worthy of multiple reads.

Love is a Mixtape – Rob Sheffield

Love is a Mixtape by Rob Sheffield is the true story of how music brought and kept a husband and wife together. Beginning in the 1990s, Sheffield’s memoir uses songs from 15 different mix tapes to chronologically take us through the unlikely courtship of his future wife Renee. With artists ranging from Elvis, The Rolling Stones and Missy Elliot, Sheffield takes a nostalgic walk through some of his favorite memories with his wife. The author uses each song to stir up the feelings and memories that he associates with them, and the nature in which the two are intertwined becomes clear as the story goes on. However Sheffield’s story does take a tragic turn, and I advise that any person interested in a great love story written by a music enthusiast and former Rolling Stones editor definitely check out this fantastic book.

Heavier than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain – Charles Cross

The Kurt Cobain biography Heavier than Heaven by Charles Cross takes a much different approach to portraying the troubled artist’s life than most of the Nirvana faithful do. While most of Cobain’s fans look back at his life with a sense of awe and misplaced romanticism, Charles Cross sees that life through lens that makes for a more humanizing portrait of Kurt Cobain. Cross, former editor of the Seattle music magazine The Rocket, uses both his own knowledge of the area that Nirvana’s members originate from and approximately 400 interviews with Cobain’s closest connections in the biography. Add in a few snippets from Cobain’s personal unpublished diary, and you have one of the most honest and revealing depictions of Kurt Cobain ever presented to the public. The one downfall of this book is that Cross does not once interview the longest standing drummer for Nirvana Dave Grohl. However, Heavier than Heaven still succeeds as a captivating portrait of one of music’s most troubled and beloved artists.

Lee Eigner attends the University of Missouri where he’s double majoring in Mass Media Communications and Film Studies.

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