Music makes the world go ‘round- wait, that’s the saying, right? As the holidays come around, think about pairing something a little more visual to your loved ones’ favorite artists and genres. From coffee table photo books to legendary memoirs to full fledged music history books, we’re bound to have something that opens your eyes to a different side of the melodies we know and love. Check out this lyrical list for inspo!
1.The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present by Paul McCartney, ed. by Paul Muldoon
A work of unparalleled candor and splendorous beauty, The Lyrics celebrates the creative life and the musical genius of Paul McCartney through 154 of his most meaningful songs. With images from McCartney’s personal archives—handwritten texts, paintings, and photographs, hundreds previously unseen—The Lyrics, spanning sixty-four years, becomes the definitive literary and visual record of one of the greatest songwriters of all time.
2. Renegades: Born in the USA by Barack Obama, Bruce Springsteen
Two longtime friends share an intimate and urgent conversation about life, music, and their enduring love of America, with all its challenges and contradictions, in this stunningly produced expansion of their groundbreaking Higher Ground podcast, featuring more than 350 photographs, exclusive bonus content, and never-before-seen archival material.
3. The Beatles: Get Back by The Beatles
The most anticipated book in more than a decade by the legendary band, The Beatles: Get Back is the official account of the creation of their final album, Let It Be, told in The Beatles’ own words, illustrated with hundreds of previously unpublished images, including photos by Ethan A. Russell and Linda McCartney. Half a century after the 1970 Let It Be album and film, this milestone book coincides with the global release of Peter Jackson’s documentary feature film, The Beatles: Get Back.
4. Dolly Parton, Songteller : My Life in Lyrics by Dolly Parton
As told by Dolly Parton in her own inimitable words, explore the songs that have defined her journey. Illustrated throughout with previously unpublished images from Dolly Parton’s personal and business archives. Mining over 60 years of songwriting, Dolly Parton highlights 175 of her songs and brings readers behind the lyrics. Packed with never-before-seen photographs and classic memorabilia, this book explores personal stories, candid insights, and myriad memories behind the songs.
5. The Flame: Poems Notebooks Lyrics Drawings by Leonard Cohen
Just weeks before his death in late 2016, Leonard Cohen told The New Yorker that he was ready for the end to come. He just wanted enough time to put his last book in order. Fortunately, that time was granted. The Flame is Cohen’s eloquent farewell, a valedictory collection of lyrics, poems, notebook sketches, and self-portraits that maps his singular creative journey. As noted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s citation, “For six decades, Leonard Cohen revealed his soul to the world through poetry and song—his deep and timeless humanity touching our very core.”
6. David Bowie: The Last Interview and Other Conversations
In this remarkable collection, Bowie reveals the fierce intellectualism, artistry, and humor behind it all. From his very first interview—as a teenager on the BBC, before he was even a musician—to his last, Bowie takes on the most probing questions, candidly discussing his sexuality, his drug use, his sense of fashion, his method of composition, and more.
This decidedly not-for-kids illustrated A–Z, celebrates the many faces and facets of David Bowie. From Aladdin Sane to Ziggy Stardust, Bowie A–Z is densely packed with everything you need to know about the rock legend – from the greatest hits of trivia to the most obscure B-side facts.
8. Prince: A To Z By Steve Wide
This decidedly not-for-kids illustrated A–Z celebrates the many faces and facets of the legend that was Prince. From “Alphabet Street” (the first single off his iconic Lovesexy album) to Jay Z (Tidal being the only place to stream his music on his passing), Prince A to Z is densely packed with everything you need to know about the pop and rock legend – from the greatest hits of trivia to the most obscure B-side facts.
9. Girl in a Band: A Memoir by Kim Gordon
In Girl in a Band, this famously reserved superstar speaks candidly about her past and the future. From her childhood in the sun baked suburbs of Southern California, growing up with a mentally ill sibling, to New York’s downtown art and music scene in the ’80s and ’90s and the birth of a band that would pave the way for acts like Nirvana, as well as help inspire the Riot Grrl generation, here is an edgy and evocative portrait of a life in art.
10. Sweat the Technique: Revelations on Creativity from the Lyrical Genius by Rakim
The musician and Hip Hop legend—hailed as “the greatest MC of all time” and compared to Thelonious Monk—reimagines the writing handbook in this memoir and guide that incorporates the soulful genius, confidence, and creativity of a master artist.
11. Nobody Ever Asked Me about the Girls: Women, Music and Fame by Lisa Robinson
An intimate, critical look at the lives of female musicians by a famed music journalist, based on new interviews with Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Adele, Bette Midler, Sade and more. Grouped by topic, ranging from hair and makeup to sexual and emotional abuse, Robinson’s interviews reveal each individual artist’s sense of humor, private hopes, and personal devastations—along with the grit and fire that brought each woman to the stage in the first place and empowered her to leave her mark on the world.
12. Step It Up and Go: The Story of North Carolina Popular Music, from Blind Boy Fuller and Doc Watson to Nina Simone and Superchunk by David Menconi
This book is a love letter to the artists, scenes, and sounds defining North Carolina’s extraordinary contributions to American popular music. David Menconi spent three decades immersed in the state’s music, where traditions run deep but the energy expands in countless directions. Menconi shows how working-class roots and rebellion tie North Carolina’s Piedmont blues, jazz, and bluegrass to beach music, rock, hip-hop, and more. From mill towns and mountain coves to college-town clubs and the stage of American Idol, Blind Boy Fuller and Doc Watson to Nina Simone and Superchunk, Step It Up and Go celebrates homegrown music just as essential to the state as barbecue and basketball.
13. Chronicling Stankonia: The Rise of the Hip-Hop South by Regina Bradley
Chronicling Stankonia reflects the ways that culture, race, and southernness intersect in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Although part of southern hip-hop culture remains attached to the past, Bradley demonstrates how younger southerners use the music to embrace the possibility of multiple Souths, multiple narratives, and multiple points of entry to contemporary southern black identity.
14. Black Utopias: Speculative Life and the Music of Other Worlds by Jayna Brown
In Black Utopias Jayna Brown takes up the concept of utopia as a way of exploring alternative states of being, doing, and imagining in Black culture. Musical, literary, and mystic practices become utopian enclaves in which Black people engage in modes of creative worldmaking. Brown explores the lives and work of Black women mystics Sojourner Truth and Rebecca Cox Jackson, musicians Alice Coltrane and Sun Ra, and the work of speculative fiction writers Samuel Delany and Octavia Butler as they decenter and destabilize the human, radically refusing liberal humanist ideas of subjectivity and species.
15. Mutations: The Many Strange Faces of Hardcore Punk by Sam McPheeters
How can so many people pledge allegiance to punk, something with no fixed identity? Depending on who and where you are, punk can be an outlet, excuse, lifestyle, escapism, conversation, community, ideology, sales category, social movement, punishable offense, badge of authenticity, reason to drink beer forever, or an aesthetic of belligerent incompetence. And if someone has a strong belief about what punk is, odds are they have even stronger feelings about what punk is not.