Archive for music

SKYLIT: Erin Osmon, ”JOHN PRINE (33 1/3)” w/ Steven Hyden

Posted in skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, nonfiction, music, art, skylit by skylightbooks on November 3rd, 2021
He is known as the Mark Twain of American songwriting, a man who transformed the everyday happenings of regular people into plainly profound statements on war, industrialization, religion, and the human condition. Marking the 50th anniversary of the album's release, John Prine chronicles the legendary singer-songwriter's Middle American provenance, and his remarkable ascent from singing mailman to celebrated son of Chicago."Illegal Smile," "Hello in There," "Sam Stone," "Paradise," "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore," "Far from Me," "Donald and Lydia," and "Angel from Montgomery" are considered standards in the American Songbook, covered by legions of Prine's peers and admirers. Through original interviews, exhaustive research, and incisive commentary, author Erin Osmon paints an in-depth portrait of the people, places, and experiences that inspired Prine's landmark debut.
Erin discusses her entry in the 33 1/3 series with music author/journalist Steven Hyden.

Produced by Maddie Gobbo, Lance Morgan, Natalie Freeman, & Michael Kowaleski.

Theme: "I Love All My Friends," an unreleased demo by Fragile Gang.

Visit for future offerings from the Skylight Books Events team.

SKYLIT: Daphne A. Brooks, “LINER NOTES FOR THE REVOLUTION” w/ Lynell George

Posted in skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, music, BIPOC, skylit by skylightbooks on July 26th, 2021
Daphne A. Brooks explores more than a century of music archives to examine the critics, collectors, and listeners who have determined perceptions of Black women on stage and in the recording studio. How is it possible, she asks, that iconic artists such as Aretha Franklin and Beyonc exist simultaneously at the center and on the fringe of the culture industry?
Liner Notes for the Revolution offers a startling new perspective on these acclaimed figures--a perspective informed by the overlooked contributions of other Black women concerned with the work of their musical peers. Zora Neale Hurston appears as a sound archivist and a performer, Lorraine Hansberry as a queer Black feminist critic of modern culture, and Pauline Hopkins as America's first Black female cultural commentator. Brooks tackles the complicated racial politics of blues music recording, song collecting, and rock and roll criticism. She makes lyrical forays into the blues pioneers Bessie Smith and Mamie Smith, as well as fans who became critics, like the record-label entrepreneur and writer Rosetta Reitz. In the twenty-first century, pop superstar Janelle Monae's liner notes are recognized for their innovations, while celebrated singers C cile McLorin Salvant, Rhiannon Giddens, and Valerie June take their place as cultural historians.
Brooks is in conversation with Lynell George, and also curated a companion playlist to Liner Notes, which you can listen to here:

Produced by Maddie Gobbo, Lance Morgan, & Michael Kowaleski

Theme: "I Love All My Friends," an unreleased demo by Fragile Gang.

Visit for future offerings from the Skylight Books Events team.

SKYLIT: Clover Hope, “THE MOTHERLODE” w/ Nadeska Alexis

Posted in skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, Feminism, nonfiction, music, hip-hop/rap, skylit by skylightbooks on February 19th, 2021
Clover Hope is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn. Hope’s work has appeared in the pages of VogueVibeBillboard, the New York TimesWIREDESPN The MagazineEssence, and the Village Voice, among other publications. She is currently the culture editor for Jezebel.
Hope discusses her book The Motherlode w/ Nadeska Alexis.

Produced by Maddie Gobbo & Michael Kowaleski

Theme: "I Love All My Friends," an unreleased demo by Fragile Gang.

Visit for future offerings from the Skylight Books Events team.


Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, nonfiction, music, latinx, skylit by skylightbooks on January 23rd, 2021

Music Stories from the Cosmic Barrios is a collection of 150 stories about music from all over Latin America, including music from Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, as well as music from Africa, the Middle East and Europe. The stories were originally broadcast on public radio programs including NPR, The World, BCC, KPCC and Latino USA. The book contains 12 chapters, each chapter follows a specific narrative: music and identity; education, community building, immigration, women's empowerment, adversity, social unrest and violence, instruments, producers, place and nation; the music of Brazil, Cuba music and the diaspora. The book's main focus is Latin American music from across the continent, with an emphasis on the music of Latinos and other ethnic groups in Los Angeles. The book also tells a personal story: the author's constant, tireless search for stories that help explain how complex and diverse humans are and how we share something so special that brings us together: music. This is a 380 page book, each story is accompanied by a black and white photo of the artist - many of the photos by author Betto Arcos.

Arcos is joined in conversation by NPR's Mandalit Del Barco.


Produced by Maddie Gobbo & Michael Kowaleski

Theme: "I Love All My Friends," a new, unreleased demo by Fragile Gang.

Visit for future offerings from the Skylight Books Events team.

SKYLIT: Kevin Mattson, “WE’RE NOT HERE TO ENTERTAIN” w/ Mike Foley

Posted in skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, Hardcore/Punk, Punk Music, music, history, skylit by skylightbooks on November 4th, 2020

Many remember the 1980s as the era of Ronald Reagan, a conservative decade populated by preppies and yuppies dancing to a soundtrack of electronic synth pop music. In some ways, it was the "MTV generation." However, the decade also produced some of the most creative works of punk culture, from the music of bands like the Minutemen and the Dead Kennedys to avant-garde visual arts, literature, poetry, and film. In We're Not Here to Entertain, Kevin Mattson documents what Kurt Cobain once called a "punk rock world" --the all-encompassing hardcore-indie culture that incubated his own talent. Mattson shows just how widespread the movement became--ranging across the nation, from D.C. through Ohio and Minnesota to LA--and how democratic it was due to its commitment to Do-It-Yourself (DIY) tactics.

Mattson is in conversation with fellow punk rock historian Mike Foley.


Produced by Maddie Gobbo & Michael Kowaleski

Theme: "I Love All My Friends," a new, unreleased demo by Fragile Gang.

Visit for future offerings from the Skylight Books Events team.

SKYLIT: Hayley Gene Penner, “PEOPLE YOU FOLLOW” w/ Kathryn Borel

Posted in skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, Memoir, music, skylit by skylightbooks on October 23rd, 2020

Singer-songwriter Hayley Gene Penner's memoir takes a brutally honest yet humorous look at the dark, intimate truths we spend our lives running from. Like a map of beautiful mistakes, Hayley's stories of questionable sexual encounters, artistic aspirations, and emotional abuse trace her coming of age in the music industry.

Hayley explores all her relationships -- from her childhood as the daughter of a celebrity, to the destructive and coercive relationship with her boss, to her encounter with the actor we all know but who mustn't be named -- and brings them together in a series of sharp, touching vignettes. People You Follow straddles the delicate boundary between ethical and unethical behaviour, self-protection and self-destruction, power and weakness, giddiness and despair.

Penner is in conversation with writer, editor and radio producer Kathryn Borel.

Stream "People You Follow," Penner's title track from her upcoming album, here.


Produced by Maddie Gobbo & Michael Kowaleski

Theme: "I Love All My Friends," a new, unreleased demo by Fragile Gang.

Visit for future offerings from the Skylight Books Events team.

Felicia Angeja Viator, “TO LIVE AND DEFY IN LA”

Posted in skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, music, journalism, hip-hop/rap by skylightbooks on April 20th, 2020

We all take for granted how synonymous hip-hop music, which dominates the music charts around the world, is with American culture today. This is a product of Los Angeles rap in the 1980s, argues Felicia Angeja Viator in her compelling new history TO LIVE AND DEFY IN LA: How Gangsta Rap Changed America (Harvard University Press). Her book tells a unique story about black LA to explain how and why the region's rap artists, labels, and audiences forever transformed American popular culture.

Viator, who worked for years as a DJ, tells the history of a sub-genre of hip-hop considered so dystopian that it initially struck aspiring Brooklyn rapper and future superstar Jay-Z as "over the top." In the Reagan era, hip-hop was understood to be the music of the inner city and, with rare exception, of New York. Rap was considered the poetry of the street, and it was thought to breed in close quarters, the product of dilapidated tenements, drug-infested housing projects, and graffiti-covered subway cars. To many in the industry, LA simply wasn't hard enough to generate "authentic" hip-hop. The assumption was that defiant black youth music couldn't come from La-La Land. Yet, by the end of the '80s, these self-styled “ghetto reporters” from Compton, South Central, Inglewood, Crenshaw, and Long Beach had fought their way onto the nation’s radio and TV stations, and thus into America’s consciousness. In doing so, they exposed the nation to police brutality, mocked law-and-order crusaders, outraged moral guardians, minted rebel anthems, and demanded that America confront its flaws.

Viator created a Spotify playlist with songs featured in her book. To listen, click here

Part of Skylight Books' "SKYLIT" series.


Produced by Maddie Gobbo & Michael Kowaleski

Theme: "I Love All My Friends," a new, unreleased demo by Fragile Gang.


Ian Brennan, “SILENCED BY SOUND” w/ Tunde Adebimpe

Posted in skylight books, book stores, nonfiction, music by skylightbooks on January 30th, 2020

Popular culture has woven itself into the social fabric of our lives, penetrating people's homes and haunting their psyches through images and earworms. Justice, at most levels, is something the average citizen may have little influence upon, leaving us feeling helpless and complacent. But pop music is a neglected arena where concrete change can occur — by exercising active and thoughtful choices to reject the low-hanging, omnipresent corporate fruit, we begin to rebalance the world, one engaged listener at a time.

Silenced by Sound is a powerful exploration of the challenges facing art, music, and media. Ian Brennan delves into his personal story to address the inequity of distribution in the arts and demonstrates that there are millions of talented people around the world more gifted than the superstars for whom billions of dollars are spent to promote the delusion that they have been blessed with unique genius.

Brennan is in conversation with Tunde Adebimpe, a Grammy-nominated musician, actor, director, and visual-artist best known as the lead singer of the band TV on the Radio.

Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding, “SWITCHED ON POP”

Posted in skylight books, book stores, books, nonfiction, music by skylightbooks on January 23rd, 2020

Switched on Pop gives readers the tools they need to interpret our modern soundtrack. Each chapter investigates a different song and artist, revealing musical insights such as how a single melodic motif follows Taylor Swift through every genre that she samples, André 3000 uses metric manipulation to get listeners to "shake it like a Polaroid picture," or Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee create harmonic ambiguity in "Despacito" that mirrors the patterns of global migration.

Replete with engaging discussions and eye-catching illustrations, Switched on Pop brings to life the musical qualities that catapult songs into the pop pantheon. Readers will find themselves listening to familiar tracks in new ways—and not just those from the Top 40. The timeless concepts that Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding define can be applied to any musical style. From fanatics to skeptics, teenagers to octogenarians, non-musicians to professional composers, every music lover will discover something ear-opening in Switched on Pop.

Roshanak Kheshti,”WENDY CARLOS’S SWITCHED-ON BACH” w/ Karen Tongson

Posted in skylight books, book stores, books, music by skylightbooks on November 8th, 2019

So much, popular and scholarly, has been written about the synthesizer, Bob Moog and his brand-name instrument, and even Wendy Carlos, the musician who made this instrument famous. No one, however, has examined the importance of spy technology, the Cold War and Carlos's gender to this critically important innovation.

Through a postcolonial lens of feminist science and technology studies, Roshanak Kheshti engages in a reading of Carlos's music within this gendered context. By focusing on Switched-On Bach (the highest selling classical music recording of all time), this book explores the significance of gender to the album's--and, as a result, the Moog synthesizer's--phenomenal success.

Kheshti is in conversation with Karen Tongson, author of Why Karen Carpenter Matters (2019), and Relocations: Queer Suburban Imaginaries (2011).

Nadya Tolokonnikova, “READ & RIOT” w/ Shepard Fairey

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, Memoir, Feminism, Punk Music, nonfiction, music, activism, politics, LGBTQ by skylightbooks on October 30th, 2018

Feminist artist, political activist, and Pussy Riot founder Nadya Tolokonnikova has written a timely guide to radical protest and provides the words, actions, and inspiration to ignite the power of individuals to passionately resist and proactively plan our way to the change we want to see. In Read & Riot: A Pussy Riot Guide to Activism, the revered international activist draws upon her own hard-won wisdom to share her core principles for opposing leaders and governments that threaten to suppress individual rights and freedoms. Cutting through the pessimism, fear, uncertainty, and hopelessness, Read & Riot is an empowering tool for civil disobedience that encourages us to question the status quo, reject the litany of injustices and refuse to let apathy take hold, and above all, to make political action exciting, to be approached with a sense of humor, and an ultimately make it an integral part of our daily lives.  Fusing punk and positivity to create a culture of protest that inspires and connects us, Read & Riot includes actions, suggestions, and resources for creating an empowered movement of resistance.

Tolokonnikova is in conversation with fellow artist-activist Shepard Fairey.


Posted in skylight books, book stores, books, nonfiction, music by skylightbooks on July 21st, 2018

Memphis: the birthplace of rock ’n’ roll, soul music capital, and home of the blues, this fabled city has played a major role in American music history. In his new book Memphis Rent Party: The Blues, Rock & Soul in Music’s Hometown, celebrated writer and documentary filmmaker Robert Gordon taps into the lesser-known characters of Memphis who have inspired and influenced popular music, from the 1970s into the present.

With interwoven stories and profiles, Memphis Rent Party begins where the greatest hits end. Gordon charts his own musical coming-of-age as he befriends blues legend Furry Lewis, Rolling Stones’ accompanist Jim Dickinson, and the high priest of indie rock, Alex Chilton. He mulls the tragedy of Jeff Buckley’s fatal swim, chronicles the power struggle to profit off singer-songwriter Robert Johnson’s legacy after his mysterious early death, and sips homemade whiskey at revolutionary blues guitarist Junior Kimbrough’s churning house parties. Gordon’s march through the city’s famed recording studios and juke joints captures the spirit of Memphis and illuminates its musical legacy that lives on today.

As with the rent parties from which the book takes its name—people gathering to hear live music, dance, and chip in to help a friend in hard times—Memphis Rent Party offers moments of celebration in the face of tragedy, optimism when the wolf is at the door. Gordon finds inspiration in life’s bleakness, art in the shadows of society, and revels in the individualism of these music legends.

Alec Byrne, “LONDON ROCK”

Posted in skylight books, book stores, books, Memoir, music, photography by skylightbooks on July 8th, 2018

What happened on the music scene in 1960s and 1970s London was nothing short of a cultural revolution. At the center of this heyday was photographer and teenager Alec Byrne, who, because of his talent and tenacity, landed a job capturing rock and roll’s greatest legends for various British media outlets. After ten years, Byrne packed up his archive and moved to Los Angeles where these photos remained in Byrne’s garage, sequestered from the public for close to forty years.

Now, Insight Editions will publish London Rock: The Unseen Archive, a striking compilation of Byrne’s never-before-seen images documenting an unprecedented time in music history. From The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie to Jimi Hendrix, The Who and The Doors, Byrne’s unique portraits, rare concert performance shots, and intimate candids, offer a distinct perspective of rock stars celebrated and known around the world. With a signature style that fuses artistry and a documentarian’s eye, Byrne’s collection is a coveted back-stage pass to many rock stars’ rise to stardom. Containing more than 250 pages of untouched and uncompromised high-quality photos, this recently unearthed collection of rock and roll history brings the era into stunning focus, painting an evocative picture of an inimitable time and place.


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