EZ GIFT PICKS: Five Books for the Music Lover

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Some are gifted with vast talent, some have a lasting effect on pop culture, some are fascinating examples of lives lived on full throttle and some are all of the above. Regardless, the musicians covered in the following titles make for fascinating reads. (And you don’t have to be a music fan to be drawn into these stories — though any music fan would appreciate finding them under the tree.)

Fosse by Sam Wasson

An impressively researched and expansive biography of the director and choreographer who brought much razzle-dazzle to Broadway and Hollywood, and created such classics as Cabaret, Pippin, All that Jazz and Chicago. Drawing from hundreds of sources, Wasson reveals the man and the ways Fosse mirrored the dark parts of his life on the stage and the screen.



Johnny Cash: The Life by Robert Hilburn

Sure you may have the seen the movie, but this biography goes much deeper  — and darker. Drawing upon his own extensive personal experience and interviews with Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter, as well as numerous other interviews with Cash’s contemporaries, music journalist Hilburn gives Cash fans the remarkable heights and deep lows of Cash’s life in equal measure.



Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington by Terry Teachout

While it should be considered required reading for Ellington fans, Teachout’s biography of the legendary jazz composer and orchestrator is also essential for anyone interested in enriching their understanding of 20th century cultural life. Using unpublished interviews, oral history transcripts, and countless other sources, Teachout delivers an insightful portrait of this enigmatic man.



Legends, Icons & Rebels: Music That Changed the World by Robbie Robertson, Jim Guerinot, Sebastian Robertson and Jared Levine

Part memoir, part tribute, these music industry veterans celebrate 27 musical legends from Ray Charles to Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry to Bob Dylan; as Robbie Robertson shares his anecdotes about these artists and the influence they had on his own musical journey. Two accompanying CDs of these artists’ tracks help bring this musical narrative to life.



Tune In by Mark Lewisohn

This is the first installment in a projected three-volume history, All These Years, by the world’s leading Beatles historian. Ten years in the making and close to a thousand pages long, Tune In uses unprecedented archival access and hundreds of new interviews to give a definitive account of the Beatles’ family lives, childhoods, teenage years and their infatuation with American music, leading up to 1962 and the cusp of their incomparable fame. At last, the lads from Liverpool have the fab biography they deserve.