Music News: Lana Del Rey, Jeff Tweedy, Mariah Carey, David Byrne plan big music books for fall 2020

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The Current Music News for Sept. 16, 2020 (MPR Video)

As host of The Current's Rock and Roll Book Club, I get to talk about a lot of new music books when they come out. Today, though, I want to highlight some of this fall's most-anticipated books before they come out, because these titles are the buzz of the music world right now and I know you're going to want to plan your sweater-weather reading, maybe even some holiday shopping.

What does Lana Del Rey have in common with Polly Jean Harvey, Tupac Shakur, Patti Smith, and Kurt Cobain? She's a published poet...or at least, she's about to be. Del Rey's debut poetry collection, Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass, comes out on Sept. 29, and she's already previewed it with a spoken word audiobook in which she reads 14 of the poems over music by the ubiquitous Jack Antonoff. Here's "LA Who Am I To Love You."

A couple of years ago, Jeff Tweedy published one of the funniest, most engaging music memoirs I've ever read. On Oct. 13, he's back with the book How to Write One Song. It takes a down-to-earth approach to the craft: instead of setting out to be "a songwriter," Tweedy recommends, try just sitting down to write one song. That's ambitious enough, at least for 176 pages.

We're actually getting a Tweedy twofer this fall, because Jeff's son Spencer has written a book called Mirror Sound: The People and Processes Behind Self-Recorded Music. Timely, right? It's a collaboration with photographer Daniel Topete and designer Lawrence Azerrad, and it comes out Oct. 20.

In 2015, Jeff and Spencer Tweedy visited The Current to play a session as their band, named simply Tweedy. Here's "Summer Noon."

While the Tweedys scale things down, you'd never expect anything stripped-down from the artist who once titled an album, Me. I Am Mariah...The Elusive Chanteuse. Even her unplugged album had as many background singers as there are members of Arcade Fire. On Sept. 29, she's publishing The Meaning of Mariah Carey, in which she'd promised to "bravely and beautifully walks through her battles with gender and power dynamics, emotional abuse, public embarrassments, personal failures, and phenomenal victories."

There's a special audiobook edition for this one as well, with musical elements added to the story.

When David Byrne launched his American Utopia Tour, he promised his most ambitious show since Talking Heads' legendary Stop Making Sense. Byrne and his band did not disappoint, in a show where every singer and instrumentalist was mobile on a bare stage. The show ultimately landed on Broadway, where the curtain had artwork designed by artist Maira Kalman. Now, Byrne and Kalman have collaborated on a book titled American Utopia. It's a companion piece to the show, but it's not a behind-the-scenes program: Byrne's lyrics and original text, combined with Kalman's illustrations, make for a book said to be "a salvo for kindness and a call for jubilation, a reminder to sing, dance, and waste not a moment."

The book comes out Oct. 13, and five days later, a concert film directed by Spike Lee debut on HBO.

And that's just some of the books written by musicians. I'm also excited for Dylan Jones's encyclopedia-sized tome on the New Romantics; Marcus J. Moore's book The Butterfly Effect, on How Kendrick Lamar Ignited the Soul of Black America, and Michelangelo Matos's Can't Slow Down: How 1984 Became Pop's Blockbuster Year.

To follow my book coverage, subscribe to our Rock and Roll Book Club e-mail newsletter, join our Facebook group, and tune in to The Current on Thursday mornings at 8:30 Central to hear me talk books with Jill Riley. Now if you'll excuse me...I have some reading to do.

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Upcoming Rock and Roll Book Club picks

Tune in to The Current at 8:30 a.m. (Central) every Thursday morning to hear Jay Gabler and Jill Riley talk about a new book. Also, find Jay's reviews online.

September 17: Blues All Around Me: The Autobiography of B.B. King (buy now)

September 24: My Life In the Purple Kingdom by BrownMark (buy now)

October 1: The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey (buy now)

October 8: See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody by Bob Mould (buy now)


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