Reading List


Week 1: Start Me Up

An introduction to setting out on your possibly ill-advised career in music journalism.

Jim Carroll’s reading list for week one:

Harold Evans “Essential English for Journalists, Editors and Writers” (the bible, basically)

 Various “De Capo Best Music Writing” (always enjoyable collection of best American music writing from any given year)

 Various “The Faber Book Of Pop” (edited by Hanif Kureishi and Jon Savage, the far-ranging width and depth of the history of pop) 

Walter Yetnikoff “Howling at the Moon” (the former Sony Music chief’s memoirs makes Keef Richards’ tales look like out-takes from Balamory)

Nik Cohn “Awopbopaloobop Alopbaboom The Golden Age of Rock” (the Derry-born writer who went onto write the story behind Saturday Night Fever was always one of the better rock writers) 

Nik Cohn “Triksta” (the brilliant, outlandish story of Cohn getting involved in New Orleans’ bounce scene post-Katrina)

Mark Jacobson “Teenage Hipster in the Modern World: From the Birth of Punk to the Land of Bush” (stories from New York City’s cultural underworld from the guy who wrote American Gangster) 

Jeff Chang “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” (fantastic, well-written, highly readable history of hip-hop) 

Lloyd Bradley “Bass Culture: When Reggae Was King” (superb history of Jamacian music and culture) 

Steve Knopper “Appetite for Self-Destruction” (very good telling of the story of how the record business made a hames of the digital business)

Fredric Dannen “Hit Men” (tales of bribery, corruption and madness from inside the record industry)

Patrick Neate “Where You’re At” (good travelogue from award-winning novelist on hip-hop¹s global reach)

Fred Goodman “The Mansion on the Hill” (insightful look at how Bob Dylan, Neil Young, David Geffen, Bruce Springsteen and others turned rock into a business in the 1970s)

Michael Azerrad “This Band Could Be Your Life” (the story of American underground rock during the 80s and early 90s)

Henry Rollins “Get In the Van” (better than anything Rollins has done since his days in Black Flag)

Nelson George “Hip Hop America” (best writer around on hip-hop and r’n’b gives it socks)

David Cavanagh “My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry for the Prize” (the best account of Creation Records’ up and downs ­ label boss Alan McGee loathes it so you know it’s good)

Dom Phillips “Superstar DJs, Here We Go!” (good firsthand account of the rise and fall of superstar DJs and superclubs)

Alex Ross “The Rest Is Noise” (fascinating social history of modern classical music)

Tim Lawrence “Love Saves the Day” (hugely readable account of the early days of dance music, disco and club culture)

Antony Haden-Guest “The Last Party” (Studio 54 and all that jazz)

Mark Weingarten “The Gang That Wouldn’t Write Straight” (excellent re-up on the new journalism dons)

Bill Brewster & Frank Broughton “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life” (how the DJ has influenced the world of music)

John Harris “The Last Party” (the Britpop years)

Brian Cross “It’s Not About A Salary” (the Limerickman best known now as photographer B Plus on Los Angeles hip-hop) 

Griel Marcus “Lipstick Traces” and/or “Mystery Train” (one of the few times when the word ‘seminal’ can really be used)

Max Hastings “Editor” (excellent bio of his years in the Daily Telegraph’s editor’s chair from the author and historian)

Piers Morgan “The Insider” (a reminder that Morgan began his career on the showbiz beat. A good, gossipy read)

Andrew Marr “My Trade” (good concise history of British journalism through the eyes of the man from the Beeb)

Una’s reading list for week one (more to be added):

‘Hip: The History’ (John Leland, 2005) – from Chet Baker to Eminem, what makes stuff hip. Fascinating and essential.

‘The Lives Of John Lennon’ (Albert Goldman, 1988) – the ‘In Cold Blood’ of music biographies. Hugely controversial, occasionally a bit suspect factually, but you can’t deny the fantastic writing.

‘The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band’ (Motley Crue and Neil Strauss, 2001) – the only rock autobiography you ever need to read.

‘White Bicycles: Making Music In The 1960s’ (Joe Boyd, 2006) – the producer who launched Nick Drake, The Incredible String Band and Fairport Convention looks back.

‘England’s Dreaming’ (Jon Savage, 1991) – the best book on the Sex Pistols and punk. Academic and comprehensive to the core.

‘Teenage: The Creation Of Youth 1875 – 1945’ (Jon Savage, 2007) – another almost autistically analytical tome from Savage.

Here’s a good list of music books Paste liked (2000-2009) –

Week 2: Digital Love

ZOMGcopter + music on teh Internetz 😉

Andrew Dubber – The 20 Things You Must Know About Music Online (free ebook, PDF)

Week 3: TV On The Radio

From playlists to payola – music journalism in broadcasting.

Watching list (much more to be added):

‘Pump Up The Volume’ (2001, BBC) A history of house music and one of the best music docs ever made.

‘Paris Is Burning’ (1990, Jennie Livingston) Feature documentary on ball culture in 1980s New York which apart from exploring gay, trans, queer and African-American and Latino subculture in NYC also charts the origins of ‘voguing’, which Madonna would subsequently yoink.

‘Later… With Jools Holland’ (BBC2, 1992-present) Is this the ultimate in-studio live music show? How does it work? Why does it work?

La Blogotheque – The Take-Away Shows (

Other Voices (RTE Two, 2003-present)

Listening list (much more to be added):


Week 4: Weird Turn Pro

Turing a hobby into a ‘real’ gig. And getting paid for it.

Other works of music journalism you should really read:


3 Responses to Reading List

  1. Lisa Cunningham says:


    When are you placing registration details for the course up?



  2. Laura Kelly-Walsh says:

    Hi when can I register for this?

  3. Ronan says:

    Fantastic list. Hodges and Chapters are going to love me after this.

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