If you dig deep enough into rock 'n' roll, you're on a freight train headed straight for the blues. -- Jack White
There's something incredibly powerful about the effect of music on our psyche. Put on your favorite album and you're bound to feel better. Regardless of genre - as everyone has their own distinct taste when it comes to music - when the perfect song is heard, it gets deep into your bones and sticks with you. Like a good book, a song can take you back to a moment in your life, remind you of a place or your favorite person.
The list of books presented here highlights the history behind some of the most popular genres but certainly doesn't capture all music categories. Although there are many different genres and subgenres of music, the relationship between the genres are usually subtle and they blend together. The blues, jazz, rock 'n' roll, punk, country and hip hop are all looked at in detail with the selected books on this page and will give the reader a better understanding of how these types of music came about.
The blues genre originated in African-American communities in the American south around the end of the 19th century and influenced many other genres of music including rock 'n' roll, jazz and hip hop. Robert Johnson, Blind Willie McTell, Charley Patton and Son House were all prominent and influential bluesmen who helped shaped this style of music.
To get to the roots of rock 'n' roll, Robert Palmer's book Rock & Roll: an Unruly History addresses various moments in rock and roll lore and highlights the milestones and intimate stories beneath the music. The Rolling Stones Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll is the quintessential tome for any rock 'n' roll enthusiast.
Whether your heart lies in the American south, honky tonk joints or the inner city, these books about the history of musical genres will be music to your ears and eyes.
See our Review of R. Crumb's Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country › Play Video