I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen, by Sylvie SimmonsFor the past thirty-five years, author Sylvie Simmons has imbued the pages of music’s most important print outlets with an engaging style and her incisive views of the industry. The London-born journalist (now based in San Francisco) has written for the likes of SoundsCreemQRolling StoneMusic Life, and MOJO; she’s also had articles appear in The GuardianThe TimesThe IndependentThe San Francisco Chronicle, and other newspapers.

Beyond her proficiency in all things pop, Simmons penned a catalog of pivotal features on the emerging L.A. metal scene in the 1980s; perhaps most notably, she was the first journalist to devote serious attention to then-unknowns Guns N’ Roses and Mötley Crüe.

Best selling author Joel McIver is a one-man journalistic supernova. While legions of music writers across the planet whimper about making a living and building cred in a shit-paying industry, McIver continues to churn out a head-spinning amount of content, ranging from epic books to fascinating interviews with music’s greatest legends, to thought-provoking essays for some of the world’s most prestigious publications. With three books coming out in 2011 and a slate of new projects underway, he will most assuredly continue to make the rest of us look bad for quite some time.

Known primarily for his biographies of heavy metal and hard rock acts like Metallica and Slayer, McIver’s allegiance is to the story, not the genre. He has chronicled the lives of hip hop legend (and beer spokesman) Ice Cube, soul queen Erykah Badu, punk legends the Sex Pistols and American upstarts the Kings of Leon. Additionally he is the author of the virulently-debated volume The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists and Extreme Metal I and II, and his twenty books have been translated into nine languages to date.

“Writing about architecture is like dancing to music.”

-Nobody

 

Last summer I gushed over the unbridled majesty of a well-written music biography. The purpose of the essay was to highlight the elements of a compelling rock biography and to point out some of the better examples in the last twenty years. I confess that I also enjoyed writing about the mud shark incident.

Sometime during the summer I turned thirteen, my neighbor, who was about three years older, began wearing corduroy pants with little flying ducks embroidered on them.

When a friend strikes out in a bold new direction like this, it can be a scary ordeal for everyone around him.  It can also present a number of opportunities.  Realizing that the onset of the mallard-inspired cords would likely usher in the obsolescence of all things non-preppy, I petitioned for and became the grateful beneficiary of a number of his now-unwanted possessions.  Specifically, his copy of The Grateful Dead’s American Beauty.  And most importantly, his copy of the Jim Morrison biography No One Here Gets Out Alive by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugarman.

My life hasn’t been the same since.