Triple J radio presenter, ABC TV correspondent and moderator at the upcoming Rock & Roll Writers Festival, Zan Rowe, takes us on a tour of her bookshelf, with a list of personal favourite artist bios, collections of music critique and more.
Rowe will lead a pair of panel discussions at April's Rock & Roll Writers Festival in Brisbane. On the Saturday she chairs a chat on the impact being born overseas and raised in Australia has on the consumption of art, while the following day she'll lead a discussion centred around the "influence of women through their effect on writers' lives, on their characters, their process and the connection with audiences". View the full program and list of speakers at the festival's website.
All words below by Zan Rowe. Photo: Daniel Boud.
"The title is tongue in cheek, but only barely, so it was timely that former editor for Pitchfork and Rookie mag and current MTV Music Editorial Director, put out a collection of her writing. Covering her early contributions writing for zines, through to her pieces for SPIN and the Village Voice, I love the way Jess' writing looks both through the lens of a fan, and one who demands more from their artists. Her pieces capture a scene in the most visceral of ways, and ask the tough questions that often remain unasked, in terms of gender, misogyny and inequality in music. This collection stretches from the mid 90's to today, a perfect companion to all the Gen X'ers who have lived through this (literally) but this time, want to ask more."
"I came late to the Go-Betweens; it wasn't until former Triple J presenter Costa Zouliou played '16 Lovers Lane' on a graveyard shift that I got wise to the song-writing partnership of Forster and McLennan. This beautiful memoir tells a much bigger story; their bond was one of happy coincidence and would be the greatest and most steadfast relationship of their lives, up until Grant's untimely death in 2006. Forster is a great writer, and he captures the wit and charm of his songs while peeling back the curtain to a union that was so unique, so of a time and created so much magic for their fans. It's a bittersweet read, one I think about all the time."
"Everyone starting a band should read this book. It's got it all: the sleeping in the tour van, sleeping (then splitting) with your bandmate, playing dingy venues, watching success bypass you for the bands that were once your support act, and the unrelenting commitment to continuing, anyway. Brownstein is funny; she co-created Portlandia and applies the same self-deprecating wit to her own life. But she's also fiercely passionate about the musical side of her creative existence, and intensely honest in this memoir of her time with Sleater-Kinney. There are scenes in this book that honestly took my breath away. It's a gutsy read."
"Full disclosure, I love DB and will read anything he publishes (including his book of 'updated' cardinal sins, and his book about riding his bike). This is a brilliant and big read because David has spent his life exploring his own curiosity on, yes, just how music works. Woven into contemporary theory are the prehistoric origins of music, intricate explorations of recording technology, label contracts and political movements. He often dips into his own experiences with Talking Heads, and solo, which makes this so much more personal and interesting. And all of it is written in the disarming, and open DB style. He may have the academic research but gone is the waffle so that everyone can access this. It's so great."
"Similarly to Patti Smith's excellent Just Kids, this memoir has so many excellent name dropping moments that you completely forgive Nile because he WAS there and it WAS ridiculous. This is such a wild coming of age tale that it's no wonder he fell in with, and produced some of the most ground-breaking artists around. His origin story has him tripping with Timothy Leary, being hospitalised with Andy Warhol, and hanging with Thelonious Monk – all before he was even legal. Running parallel is the tale of a city, New York City; a dirty, dangerous beast depending on who you were and where you went at night. A very different place to the New York we know today. That he survived that childhood, then went on to beat cancer and have one of the greatest comebacks of all time just proves this cat has nine lives. Such a fun read."