Sure, it’s fun to look at what your fellow Evanstonians are checking out of the library these days. But there’s a certain fascination that comes with seeing what they won’t touch with a ten-foot-pole. Case in point, books about music. It’s not that Evanston doesn’t like music. It’s just that folks here in town would rather hear it performed than read about it. But maybe the problem is more complex than that. After all, we purchase so many books, it can be hard to even know what’s out there.
Here then are some marvelous musical offerings, available in your local library. Won’t you give them some love?
Experiencing Jewish Music in America : A Listener’s Companion by Tina Frühauf
No fuddy duddy encapsulation here. Frühauf begins with the first Jewish congregation established in North America in 1654 (!!) and then proceeds to trace Jewish music as it came to be heard through the stage, screen, and on concert and rock stages. The name of the game here is to identify the diversity and complexity of this music. Heck, there’s even a section on Broadway. How can you resist?
Sassy: The Life of Sarah Vaughan by Leslie Gourse
If you want to start a fight with your jazz enthusiast friends, ask them who had the most spectacular voice in jazz history? And if none of them mention Sarah Vaughan, get out of that room. Clearly they don’t know what they’re talking about. On stage she was a goddess. Off-stage she had some . . . let’s say issues. A fascinating history of one of the greats.
Spirituals and the Birth of a Black Entertainment Industry by Sandra Jean Graham
We already have lots of books on spirituals. What makes this one any different? Well, while most of those other books will just talk about the songs, this is the rare book that dives into the actual exponents of this important African American tradition. Reviews of this book call it “refreshing” and “disarming”. Basically, if you’ve ever wanted an encapsulation of its history and the big players, there is where you should go.
Bruce Springsteen :
From Asbury Park, to Born to Run, to Born in the USA by David Gahr
I can’t believe I’m writing this, but did you know that there’s a Bruce Springsteen book out there that no one in Evanston has ever read? Filled with previously unpublished photos of young Bruce, this is precisely the kind of time machine you need this summer to remember The Boss in his prime. It starts when Bruce is twenty-three and goes from there. Go on. You know you’re curious.
A Passionate Journey : A Memoir by Robert Mann
Meet Robert Mann. Not only was he a founding member of the Juilliard Quartet, but apparently he’s known everyone from Elliott Carter and Aaron Copland, to Willem de Kooning and Albert Einstein! He’s a great storyteller, but he can also dissect a Beethoven or Bartok string quartet so well that you won’t even have to play an instrument to enjoy what he has to say.
And, naturally, all of these are available at your helpful local library.