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Books for music lovers 2023

From Lucinda Williams to Sly Stone, there are so many compelling memoirs new in 2023.

There are so many music memoirs new in 2023 that we want to read! Here's a list.

Don't Tell Anybody The Secrets I Told You by Lucinda Williams

This New York Times bestseller is from the unique perspective of Grammy award winner and songwriter Lucinda Williams. In the book, she writes about being raised in a working-class family in the Deep South, moving from town to town each time her father — a poet, a textbook salesman, a professor, a lover of parties — got a new job, totaling 12 different places by the time she was 18 years old. Her mother suffered from severe mental illness and was in and out of hospitals. And when Williams was about a year old, she had to have an emergency tracheotomy — an inauspicious start for a singing career. But she was also born a fighter, and she would develop a voice that has captivated millions.

In Don’t Tell Anybody the Secrets I Told You, Williams takes readers through the events that shaped her music — from performing for family friends in her living room to singing at local high schools and colleges in Mexico City, to recording her first album with Folkway Records and headlining a sold-out show at Radio City Music Hall. She reveals the inspirations for her unforgettable lyrics, including the doomed love affairs with “poets on motorcycles” and the gothic southern landscapes of the many different towns of her youth, including Macon, Lake Charles, Baton Rouge and New Orleans

Mud Ride: A Messy Trip Through the Grunge Explosion by Steve Turner with Adem Tepedelen

Mud Ride is a title that caught our attention for grunge fans. From his days as a guitarist in the seminal Seattle alt rock band Green River, to his tenure in long-running Sub Pop Records act Mudhoney (who just released their 11th album, Plastic Eternity), Steve Turner managed to ride the grunge wave all the way from obscurity to international acclaim and come out the other end still standing.

And what’s most interesting about Turner’s memoir is that it comes from the perspective of someone who was close to the center of the storm, but didn’t have to navigate the pitfalls of fame that befell higher profile acts like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Turner also carefully unwinds the many intertwining threads of Seattle’s late ’80s-early ’90s music scene, when musical chairs among bands was the norm, to make this a thorough first-hand account of the period.

Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) by Sly Stone

The book in the same name as the song, written by a recently sober Sly Stone of Sly and the Family Stone with the New Yorker’s Ben Greenman (and the first release from Questlove’s AUWA Books), might be the unlikeliest memoir we got in 2023. Stone is 80 these days. The book moves from Sly’s early career as a radio DJ and record producer through the dizzying heights of the San Francisco music scene in the late 1960s and into the darker, denser life (and music) of 1970s and 1980s Los Angeles.

Lunacy: The Curious Phenomenon of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, 50 Years On by John Kruth

Released in March of 1973, The Dark Side of the Moon quickly topped the U.S. Billboard charts and took up residence there for over 700 weeks, selling over4 5 million copies to date. In Lunacy, award-winning music biographer John Kruth ("A fantastic writer" — Jim Jarmusch) delves into the making of this iconic record and considers why it continues to speak to generation after generation of music lovers around the world.

Tupac Shakur: The Authorized Biography by Staci Robinson

Tupac Shakur is one of the greatest and most controversial artists of all time. More than a quarter of a century after his tragic death in 1996 at the age of just 25, he continues to be one of the most misunderstood, complicated and influential figures in modern history. Drawing on exclusive access to Tupac's private notebooks, letters and uncensored conversations with those who loved and knew him best, this estate-authorized biography paints the fullest and most intimate picture to date of the young man who became a legend for generations to come.

In Tupac Shakur, author and screenwriter Staci Robinson — who knew Tupac from their shared circle of high school friends in Marin City, California, and who was entrusted by his mother, Afeni Shakur, to share his story — unravels the myths and unpacks the complexities that have shadowed Tupac's existence.

Madonna: A Rebel Life by Mary Gabriel

With her arrival on the music scene in the early 1980s, Madonna generated nothing short of an explosion — as great as that of Elvis or the Beatles — taking the nation by storm with her liberated politics and breathtaking talent. Within two years of her 1983 debut album, a flagship Macy's store in Manhattan held a Madonna lookalike contest featuring Andy Warhol as a judge, and opened a department called "Madonna-land."

But Madonna was more than just a pop star. Everywhere, fans gravitated to her as an emblem of a new age, one in which feminism could shed the buttoned-down demeanor of the 1970s and feel relevant to a new generation. Amid the scourge of AIDS, she brought queer identities into the mainstream, fiercely defending a person's right to love whomever — and be whoever — they wanted.

Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones by Dolly Parton

In Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones, global superstar Dolly Parton shares, for the first time, the full story behind her lifelong passion for fashion, including how she developed her own, distinctly Dolly style, which has defied convention and endeared her to fans around the world.

Featuring behind-the-scenes stories from Dolly Parton's life and career, and the largest reveal of her private costume archive, this gorgeously photographed book spotlights her most unforgettable looks from the 1960s to now.

For young readers

The Story of the Saxophone

The Story of the Saxophone is a children's book inspired by a mutual love of jazz and the 2001 PBS documentary Jazz. Learn how saxophonists like Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young were instrumental in helping the saxophone gain popularity in the jazz world.

 Two young children sitting outside reading a book titled "Fest Friends"
Courtesy of Ramona Muse Lambert
Lambert's new book, "Fest Friends: A Hinterland Music Festival Adventure"

Fest Friends

Ramona Muse Lambert, a Des Moines-based musician and artist, is well-known in Iowa for her musical illustrations and her devotion to the joy of the chaos. She's best known as the illustrator behind the popular Hinterland Hinterkids activity books. This summer, she has something new for musical kiddos and their families: an illustrated children's book. The new project is called Fest Friends, and the storyline happens at Hinterland. Her husband Derek wrote the story, and she illustrated the book.

The Rhythm of Time

From the Academy Award–winning, Grammy-winning, and New York Times bestselling author Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and the New York Times bestselling author S. A. Cosby comes this thrill-a-minute novel—the first in a rollicking time-travel adventure series that’s perfect for fans of Amari and the Night Brothers and Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky.

Seventh grader Rahim Reynolds loves testing out the gadgets invented by his brilliant friend Kasia Collins. First there were the X-ray glasses and all the trouble they caused. Now there’s the new cell phone she built for his birthday, even though his parents won’t let him have one. But Rahim is excited to use the phone to search for videos of his favorite old-school rap group. What he doesn’t know is the phone has a special battery that interfaces with a secret government satellite, which spells trouble when the phone transports him back to 1997. Almost immediately, he learns what every time traveler before him has: Actions in the past jeopardize the future. With Kasia as his only lifeline to the present, Rahim works with her to get home unscathed, all the while dodging bullies (on his end) and suspicious government agents (on hers).Philadelphia in the late nineties is a new world for Rahim and Kasia, but it is a familiar place for Questlove, who, alongside S. A. Cosby, delivers a high-velocity tale where two best friends discover that sometimes the best beat is the one that brings you back home.SEE LESS

Lindsey Moon is IPR's Senior Digital Producer