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10 Best Music Books of 2015

From the stage to the page: The year’s best memoirs, oral histories and more

Music Books 2015

The year's best music reads included open books on a roots-rocker, a dance icon, a punk poet and a rap pioneer; not to mention deep looks at everything from the Vietnam war to the current EDM explosion.

Here are 10 of the best. While you're at it, don't miss these great books by Rolling Stone staffers, either:

So Many Roads: The Life and Times of the Grateful Dead, by David Browne

Can I Say: Living Large, Cheating Death, and Drums, Drums, Drums, by Travis Barker with Gavin Edwards

MJ: The Genius of Michael Jackson, by Steve Knopper 

The Underground Is Massive: How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America
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‘The Underground Is Massive: How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America’ by Michaelangelo Matos

A long-overdue history, as well as a meticulous WTF account, The Underground Is Massive easily fulfills its title's premise. But the skin-tingling buzz in Michaelangelo Matos' 400-page tome comes from his reporting on the Eighties and Nineties parties and raves that helped, along with the Internet, to unite tiny pockets of fanatics in towns and cities across the vastness of North America. (Full disclosure: I am quoted occasionally in the book.) Matos airlifts you into thrillingly chaotic scenes, including brutal police raids, and provides just enough context, via the recurring voices of Moby, Richie Hawtin, promoters Disco Donnie and Pasquale Rotella, DJ true believer Tommie Sunshine, and others. He also generously tracks EDM's more recent capitalist carnival, calling Daft Punk at Coachella in 2006, viewed by millions on YouTube, a "Beatles on Ed Sullivan" moment. C.A.

We Gotta Get Outta This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War
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‘We Gotta Get Outta This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War’ by Doug Bradley and Craig Werner

Doug Bradley and Craig Werner's account of music's connection to the Vietnam War is intimate and deeply informative, with a scope that encompasses both the war itself and the way that music has helped raise awareness of veterans' issues long after its end. We Gotta Get Out of This Place gives the reader a good sense of how the popularity of different songs and styles waxed and waned over the years, as the mood of the war changed. It also gives plenty of space for extended first-person narratives (dubbed "Solos") offering a diverse array of viewpoints, including many from veterans who found themselves in anti-war camps, those who felt more conflicted about the anti-war movement, and musicians like Country Joe McDonald and James Brown. Nuanced and frequently moving. T.C.

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