Victoria Segal picks the best music books of the month
Rise Up feels like it’s written to inspire the next generation of artists.
There is real generosity behind 1 Rise Up: The #Merky Story So Far by Stormzy, edited and co-written by Jude Yawson (PENGUIN/#MERKY, ★★★★ ) , an oral history of Stormzy’s stellar career. While it could have been in the artist’s interests to orchestrate a standard self-aggrandising memoir, he instead shares the limelight with his creative and business team, with his manager or publicist both explaining the paths they have taken to their current roles. As a result, Rise Up feels like a manual, a book written not to the greater glory of Stormzy but as a way of inspiring the next generation of artists. 2 Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back): A Memoir Of Recording And Discording With Wilco, Etc by Jeff Tweedy (FABER & FABER, ★★★★ ) is ostensibly a more conventional rock’n’roll autobiography, but unsurprisingly, the Wilco leader doesn’t settle for entirely straight storytelling lines. He includes realtime dialogues with loved ones as he thrashes out what he remembers and what he should reveal. At one point he declares he won’t be discussing his struggle with painkiller addiction. The next line: “Jesus, of course I’m going to write about the drugs.” Fans of Wilco and Uncle Tupelo will enjoy playful and serious insights into the mind of a songwriter, not to mention the reasons why he needs to “kill, and eat the heart of, Dave Grohl.” Lyric books often fall flat, the words cut adrift from their music and left floating on a page. 3 One Hundred Lyrics And A Poem by Neil Tennant (FABER & FABER, ★★★★ ) is a glorious exception to that disappointing rule. Thanks to the emotional and thematic range of the Pet Shop Boy’s writing and his concise yet illuminating footnotes, these lyrics not only survive their uprooting but also allow new perspectives on well-loved songs. Worth a look, even if you wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing.