Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Stevie Van Zandt: books for rock lovers

My initial training goal is rather modest. I just want every kindergarten kid to be able to name the four Beatles, dance Satisfaction, sing Long Tall Sally, and recite every word of Subterranean Homesick Blues by heart. The rest will come by itself.

This sentence contains the spirit of the amazing Memoir. My odyssey, between rock and unrequited passions, by Stevie Van Zandt (translation by Sara Boero; Il Castello), extraordinary biography of one of the most eclectic contemporary artists. I have always had a passion for the man Little Steven (so much so that I dedicated a story to him, published years ago, after crossing him by chance while walking through Greenwich Village), and in this text the purist spirit of rock of the musician-activist-actor American emerges overbearing. In a personal journey that starts from New Jersey, passes in front of a television where he attends the Beatles show by Ed Sullivan, he goes through band battles, love sounds, intuitions and great second thoughts. Memoir, in addition to telling about Stevie Van Zandt, tells of great contemporary musicians: Elvis, Van Morrison, Paul McCartney, Dave Van Ronk, Bob Dylan, Southside Johnny and, of course, Bruce Springsteen, observed from the point of view of his brotherly friend, of the a boy in love with music who finds in the Boss another disadvantaged young man with whom to build a successful career that will belong to both of them. Memoir is the book that all rock lovers should read. The bedtime storybook for our children.

I had to hold onto a lot of things before. That’s why I tried other forms of writing as well, because they didn’t pass me the songs. People would not understand, they would have killed me. I would be finished, they would have chased me off the stage, it would have been a total failure.

Like a Rolling Stone. Interviste, by Bob Dylan (edited by Jeff Burger; translation by Camilla Pieretti; The Saggiatore), collects dozens of interviews, in addition to the highlights of more than 80 other meetings and speeches, which unravel a 360-degree picture of the immortal American artist. In the more than 500 pages of the text, readers can read a sometimes elusive Dylan about his true feelings and the meaning of his songs, at other times he will be controversial, full of himself, confused, mystical, but ultimately, vero. They range from the first radio interviews of 1962 for the launch of his first LP, up to the speech for the delivery of the Nobel Prize in 2016. During this long period Dylan talks about folk, rock, conversions, civil rights, wandering, drugs, power, corruption, fame, advertising, journalism … a beautiful book to read listening to It’s Alright, Ma The Desolation Row.

All the people who are in there have invariably had a great influence on us and it was only for that reason that we felt like getting our hands on a guitar, joining a band, because at the time a proper job is not we had it. In any case … I would say that things went well.

What Is Life. Meetings and interviews, by George Harrison (edited by Ashley Kahan; translated by Seba Pezzani; Il Saggiatore), is an amazing journey together with the “Quiet Beatle” to discover not only his point of view with respect to the Fab Four, but also about what happened next. Between ironic, sometimes cynical, impressions of success and music, impressions of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the study of the sitar, the organization of the great benefit concert for Bangladesh and what became of his solo career, Harrison gives voice to his sarcasm and his soul, investigates human existence and its relationships with bandmates, women, friends and with the universe. An indispensable book to understand the thought of the unforgettable English musician and immerse yourself in a sound memory that belongs to everyone.

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