33-1/3 books

33-1/3 books

They’re not new, but I wanted to post a comment about this gem of a book series for those who haven’t discovered it. Each book is written by a different author and describes on important music album in detail, often track by track.  The publisher is Bloomsbury Publishing and you can find a list of all those published on the 33-1/3 Wikipedia page, among other places. There are 85 or 90 of these little books now and they’re available from the usual booksellers for ~$10-12 each.

I just finished Jonathan Lethem’s 33-1/3 on the Talking Heads’ Fear of Music and it deepened my appreciation for that album and that band. Lethem talks about first hearing it as a 15-year-old in Brooklyn in 1979. Later he quotes something he wrote in 2003, which gave me shivers. “I played the third album by Talking Heads, called Fear of Music, to the point of destroying the vinyl, then replaced it with another copy. I memorized the lyrics, memorized the lyrics to other Talking Heads albums, saw Talking Heads play every chance I got… At the peak, in 1980 or 1981, my identification was so complete that I might have wished to wear the album Fear of Music in place of my head so as to be more clearly seen by those around me.”

That was so much like my reaction to first hearing Bruce Springsteen in 1984 (I know, I know, I was a little late to the party). And that’s how I reacted to the Born in the USA album, as well as others over the years.

And yes, I’ve also read the 33-1/3 book on Born in the USA by Geoffrey Himes. And I just got the one on Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited (one of my favorite albums) by Mark Polizzotti.

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