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Music Memoirs on the rise

Music memoirs are on the rise: 3 must-reads to add to your physical and digital library

With all the buzz and drama surrounding the lives of musicians, it’s refreshing and often sobering to hear about their experiences straight from the source. Music memoirs have become a popular way to show a new side to music stars, who have often remained elusive and mysterious figures known primarily for their work. For many, it’s a cathartic experience to unveil deep secrets from their time in the industry or a more human side to them.

For instance, the recent release of Britney Spears’ memoir The Woman in Me shocked readers with its revelations about her childhood, highly publicized relationships, tumultuous conservatorship, and more. She has constantly been in the public eye since her youth, so to hear her story straight from her is something people have been waiting for.

Tech has become instrumental to artists of any experience and fame to navigate the industry and public life. CHARTIN is a prime example of how powerful platforms can connect artists to figures and experts in the music industry, increasing visibility. Tech has also given musicians more options to tell their stories. Today, fans can access the memoirs of their favorite musicians through digital means. Take the platform  Everand, which hosts a wide selection of ebooks and audiobooks, increasing access to these materials. Now, more people can hear about the experiences of these musicians as their personal and industry lives intertwine. Whether you buy the books, download them onto an e-reader, or plug in your headphones to listen, here are some must-read music memoirs to add to your physical and digital libraries.

Just Kids by Patti Smith

Patti Smith is one of the most iconic figures in the New York City punk rock movement. But besides her legendary sound, her personal life became a subject of intrigue, especially since it intertwined greatly with her music. In her memoir Just Kids, Patti Smith writes about her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who was behind the iconic Horses album cover.

Mapplethorpe’s tragic death due to complications from AIDS in 1989 became a catalyst for the writing of Just Kids, which became an ode to their deep relationship, art culture in the ’60s and ’70s, Smith’s musical contemporaries, and youth and friendship. Smith brings the same captivating to her prose as she does with her lyrics, making for a touching read. Smith also narrates the audiobook version, giving an even more personal and immersive experience.

Life by Keith Richards

Keith Richards gives a glimpse of the chaos, controversy, and excitement of rock n’ roll fame in his memoir Life. The Rolling Stones guitarist has seen it all during his time in one of the biggest bands in the world, making his perspective of the rockstar lifestyle a valuable one. The memoir contains precisely the type of anecdotes one would expect from a young musician working his way to stardom, from sleepless nights and crazy songwriting sessions to struggles with drug abuse and band conflicts. Despite the ups and downs, Richard’s driving force through it all was music. It’s that passion for the art that makes his read a unique and entertaining read.

Crying in H Mart, a music memoir by Michelle Zauner

Michelle Zauner—head of the indie pop band Japanese Breakfast—released her memoir Crying in H Mart in 2021, which quickly became a top nonfiction bestseller.

One of the book’s main explorations is Zauner’s relationship with her Korean mother, how it evolved throughout her childhood teen years, and her venture into music as she entered adulthood. After her mother’s passing from stomach cancer in 2014, Zauner reflects on her grief, her biracial identity, love, and music. She reconciles these all through cooking, creating traditional Korean meals to connect with her mother’s culture and family. The titular Korean supermarket H Mart served as a springboard for her exploration, providing her with the ingredients she needed to unpack her loss and personhood.

It matters little whether you are an artist or a visitor, the love for music is the unifying factor.

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