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Sweet Tunes: The Best in New Music Memoirs

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • April 20, 2021

Lyrical Life Stories

The pandemic freed up some time for successful, working musicians. Perhaps that's why we're seeing a proliferation of exciting books from some of our favorite musical artists. Here are a bunch that have us humming along.

For Fans of Brandi Carlile

In Broken Horses, the Grammy-winning Americana artist takes us through the events that shaped her art—from an impoverished childhood, to coming out as a teenager in a religious community, to her first big break opening for the Dave Matthews Band and beyond.

The soundtrack: The Firewatcher's Daughter by Brandi Carlile

For Fans of Richard Thompson

Known for his extraordinary guitar playing and haunting songs, Richard Thompson has garnered a cult following. Now, in Beeswing: Losing My Way and Finding My Voice, his first memoir, he chronicles the start of his legendary career during the pivotal years of 1967 to 1975.

The soundtrack: I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight by Richard and Linda Thompson

For Fans of Rickie Lee Jones

Last Chance Texaco offers a no-holds-barred account of the extraordinary life of the free-spirited artist. With never-before-told stories and personal photos, take the ride from her nomadic childhood to a rocky relationship with fellow artist Tom Waits, her battle with drugs, and finding stability in motherhood.

The soundtrack: Swordfishtrombones by Tom Waits (Sadly, we're out of stock on Jones's albums, but if you have access to her ablum Pirates, we recommend that too!)

For Fans of Wilco

This one's a little different. In How to Write One Song, Wilco's Jeff Tweedy shares the secrets of his craft, bringing readers along on the intimate process of songwriting. Most importantly, he shares the hope, inspiration, and joy available to anyone who is ready to make creativity part of everyday life. (BTW, he also wrote a memoir.)

The soundtrack: Sky Blue Sky by Wilco

For Fans of Mariah Carey

In The Meaning of Mariah Carey the bestselling singer opens up about a family history of abuse, the racism she has experienced, the perils of fame and fortune, and a brief rebound relationship with Derek Jeter. The narrative is quirky, colorful, dramatic, and vulnerable, much like the artist herself.

The soundtrack: Butterfly by Mariah Carey

For Fans of Dolly Parton

In her own inimitable words, the beloved icon explores the songs that have defined her journey. Songteller is packed with never-before-seen photographs and the personal stories and memories behind 60 years of songs. This book is a show-stopping must-have for every fan.

The soundtrack: Jolene by Dolly Parton

With their globetrotting, high-octane lifestyles, paired with an inherent gift for storytelling, these singer-songwriters are uniquely suited to write entertaining memoirs. So crank up the tunage and crack open a crackling tale from one of these lyrical luminaries.

Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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