Tuesday, August 14, 2007

KXCI Music Book Reviews - Stay Tuned!

Weird old Frank Zappa once famously observed that "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture" (or something like that). More recently, Emmylou Harris made a similar point when she said that "Talking about music is like doing card tricks on the radio" (or something like that).

The common insight of these two observations—that the joy of music is largely ineffable—has not slowed the production of new books and magazines devoted to music. Despite the concerns of Mr. Zappa and Ms. Harris, the past two decades have seen a mounting tsunami of books and magazines about music written for music lovers. Biography and criticism mix freely with how-to-do-it and cultural analysis. Well-known musicians and obscure cult favorites alike are now being dissected between book covers.

The eminently quotable Frank Zappa was understandably irritated by some of the verbiage that was being cranked out in the guise of music criticism, especially when it was being applied to his own music. It was his opinion that "Rock journalism is people who can’t write interviewing people who can’t talk for people who can’t read."

Arguably, things have improved a lot since the early days of music journalism. The genre has grown and matured (haven’t we all?), and shows no signs of playing itself out in the foreseeable future. What is the targeted market for all these books? You, the KXCI listeners—the kind of people who take their music seriously. KXCI listeners are not only musically sophisticated, they are discerning readers who want to know more about the music and musicians they enjoy.

To help sort out the gems from the dross found on the music bookshelves, KXCI will feature occasional reviews of the more significant titles that you may not want to miss. If you have read a book that is worth sharing with other KXCI listeners, let us know about it. In the meantime it is important that we always remember (again, in the words of Frank Zappa): "Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is the best."

Stay tuned for music book reviews to be posted here regularly!

-- Shelby Meyer (KXCI Member and Volunteer)

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