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I’m a music book nerd.  Here’s a list of some of my standby and favorite music reference books.  I’ll continue to add titles as they’re used.  The list does not include biographies or memoirs.



Austen, Jake, ed., Flying Saucers Rock ‘n’ Roll (Duke University Press, 2011)

Balliett, Whitney, American Singers (Oxford University Press, 1979)

Bolden, Tony, ed., The Funk Era and Beyond (Palgrave MacMillan, 2008)

Bordman, Gerald, American Musical Theatre (Oxford University Press, 1978)

Bowman, Rob, Soulsville USA: The Story of Stax Records (Schirmer, 1997)

Christgau, Robert, Christgau’s Record Guide: Rock Albums of the ’70s (Ticknor & Fields, 1981)

Clarke, Donald, ed., The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Penguin, 1989)

Crumb, R., Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country (Abrams, 2006)

Ewen, David, The Life and Death of Tin Pan Alley (Funk & Wagnall’s, 1964)

Friedwald, Will, A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers (Pantheon, 2010)

Friedwald, Will, Jazz Singing (Scribners, 1990)

Friedwald, Will, Stardust Melodies: A Biography of 12 of America’s Most Popular Songs (A Cappella, 2002)

Gillett, Charlie, The Sound of the City (Outerbridge & Dienstfrey, 1972)

Gioia, Ted, Delta Blues (W.W. Norton, 2008)

Gioia, Ted, The History of Jazz (Oxford University Press, 1997)

Gioia, Ted, The Jazz Standards (Oxford University Press, 2012)

Gioia, Ted, Love Songs: The Hidden History (Oxford University Press, 2015)

Green, Jeff, The Green Book of Songs by Subject (Professional Desk References, 2002)

Green, Stanley, Broadway Musicals, Show by Show (Hal Leonard, 1994)

Guralnick, Peter, Feel Like Going Home (Vintage, 1971)

Guralnick, Peter, Lost Highway: Journeys & Arrivals of American Musicians (Vintage, 1982)

Guralnick, Peter, Sweet Soul Music (Harper & Row, 1986)

Harris, Sheldon, Blues Who’s Who (Da Capo, 1979)

Jacobs, Dick & Harriet, Who Wrote That Song? (Writer’s Digest Books, 1994)

Jasen, David A., Tin Pan Alley (Primus, 1988)

Jordan, Herb, ed., Motown in Love: Lyrics from the Golden Era (Pantheon, 2006)

Kinkle, Roger D., The Complete Encyclopedia of Popular Music and Jazz, 1900-1950 (Arlington House, 1974)

Lees, Gene, Singers and the Song II (Oxford University Press, 1998)

Lomax, John A. & Alan, American Ballads & Folk Songs (MacMillan, 1968)

McAleer, Dave, The All Music Book of Hit Singles (Miller Freeman Books, 1994)

MacDonald, Ian, Revolution in the Head: The Beatles’ Records and the Sixties (Owl Books, 1994)

Marcus, Greil, Mystery Train (Plume, 1990)

Marcus, Greil, Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs (Yale University Press, 2014)

Marsh, Dave, The Heart of Rock & Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made (Da Capo, 1999)

Meyer, Helen, The Gold in Tin Pan Alley (Lippincott, 1958)

Milkowski, Bill, Swing It: An Annotated History of Jive (Billboard Books, 2001)

Montgomery, Elizabeth Rider, The Story Behind Popular Songs (Dodd, Mead, & Co., 1958)

Morath, Max, The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to Popular Standards (Grand Central Press, 2002)

Pareles, Jon, & Patricia Romanowski, ed., The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Rolling Stone Press, 1983)

Portantiere, Michael, ed., The Theater Mania Guide to Musical Theater Recordings (Backstage Books, 2004)

Riley, Tim, Tell Me Why: The Beatles Album by Album, Song by Song (Knopf, 1988)

Shelton, Robert, & Burt Goldblatt, The Country Music Story (Bobbs-Merrill, 1966)

Tosches, Nick, Country: Living Legends and Dying Metaphors in America’s Biggest Music (Scribner’s, 1985)

Tosches, Nick, Unsung Heroes of Rock and Roll (Da Capo Press, 1999)

Warner, Jay, The Billboard Book of American Singing Groups: A History 1940-1990 (Billboard Books, 1992)

Whitcomb, Ian, After the Ball: Pop Music from Rag to Rock (Limelight, 2003)

Whitburn, Joel,  The Billboard Book of Top 40 R&B and Hip-Hop Hits (Billboard Books, 2006)

Whitburn, Joel, Billboard Top 1000 Singles 1955-199o (Hal Leonard, 1991)

Whitburn, Joel, Pop Memories: 1890-1954 (Record Research, 1986)

Whitburn, Joel, Top Pop Artists & Singles: 1955-1978 (Record Research, 1979)

Whitcomb, Ian, After the Ball: Pop Music from Rag to Rock (Limelight, 2003)

Wynn, Ron, ed., The All Music Guide to Jazz (Miller Freeman Books, 1994)

Yagoda, Ben, The B-Side (Riverhead, 2015)

Yanow, Scott, Swing: 1500 Recordings Reviewed and Rated (Miller Freeman Books, 2000)





4 responses »

  1. Love that you include your bibliography. Nice one.


  2. Guralnick is one of my music criticism gods.



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