Are you a music fan with a bookshelf in need of a revamp? Then sit tight and continue reading because the frontman of experimental US rock band Oxbow, Eugene Robinson, is here to give you his personally curated list of essential music novels. Robinson is also a revered journalist and author, as well as a key component of the newly launched End Of Nowhere website, where he conducted several interviews with some of the biggest names in the arts over the last two years.
Launched by creative agency Wong/Doody, End of Nowhere features interviews with an eclectic array of 20 global creatives, including the likes of punk legend Lydia Lunch and Wu-Tang Clan and A Tribe Called Quest producer, Sophia Chang. Now, let’s switch on that reading light, and scroll below to read about Robinson’s recommendations.
1) I Put a Spell On You: The Bizarre Life of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins by Steve Bergsman (Feral House)
“This is the kind of novel that will instantly have you shaking your head in disbelief. Still, Bergsman’s book is positive proof that climbing out of a coffin and screaming like a madman, all while being an opera singer, joining the army at 13, and fathering over 30 kids absolutely puts the shock into shock rock. Oh, and I wrote the foreword too!”
2) Lydia Lunch: The Need to Feed: Recipes for Developing a Healthy Obsession for Deeply Satisfying Foods (Universe)
“So, downtown maven and no-wave queen Lydia Lunch has a cookbook out? Of course, she does. And into her sixth decade of edge dwelling, I can’t think of anything that would tickle the tastebuds better. And who makes a better three-course meal than Lydia? No one, that’s who.”
3) Hard-Core: Life of My Own: Harley Flanagan (Feral House)
“Did you ever tour when you were eight? Or hang out at nightclubs with Joe Strummer, Andy Warhol and Deborah Harry? What about having Allen Ginsberg publish a book of your poetry when you were four? No? Ok, what about appearing on the cover of the New York Post for a stabbing you were subsequently acquitted for? If that’s not enough craziness for you, Harley Flanagan’s time in the hurly-burly days of the 70s New York punk rock scene, and his both-feet-in take on hardcore in the 80s, is a page-turning read, and certainly much safer than being there yourself.”
4) The Spider Garden by Michael Manning (NBM Publishing)
“For fans of pansexual fetishism and comics (or illustrated books), this is like the rosetta stone for all that followed it. And Michael Manning does it like no one else could: with style, panache, and a certain amount of very controlled glee.”
5) Corporate Rock Sucks: The Rise and Fall of SST Records by Jim Ruland (Hachette Books)
“Husker Du, Black Flag, Soundgarden, the Minutemen, the Meat Puppets, Sonic Youth, Bad Brains, and well, if any of the aforementioned means anything at all to you, you’ve in all likelihood wondered what the hell happened to the creative powerhouse that made it possible for them to mean anything to you. Ruland’s book reads like a wonderful police gazette, at the end of which, surprises abound.”
6) Faux Queen: A Life in Drag by Monique Jenkinson (Amble Press)
“Ok, here’s a little promo genius for you. Monique Jenkinson as Fauxnique started her life in drag as an extension of ballet, but ended up in San Francisco winning competitions as bonafide “female female impersonator”. It’s a designation she feels is much less descriptive than “drag” – which she credits largely with raising her in what reads like a pretty wonderful way to grow up.”
7) Fight: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Ass Kicking But You Were Afraid You’d Get Your Ass Kicked for Asking by Eugene S. Robinson (Harper Collins)
“My book? Damned straight my book. It’s a philosophical monologue about the rough and tumble world of managing the most crucial kind of interpersonal conflict. What do I, a BJJ black belt, know about that? Well.”