Home Culture Culture News

Spring Books Preview: Season of the Tell-All

Clear some space on your bookshelf: the next few months features a flood of big-name memoirs, an in-depth Paul Simon bio and much more.

Clear some space on your bookshelf: This spring features a flood of big-name memoirs, an in-depth Paul Simon bio and much more.

by Andy Greene and Annie Licata.

Bruce Springsteen, ‘Born to Run’
Available Now
After playing the 2009 Super Bowl halftime show, Springsteen (pictured above) wrote an online diary about the experience. He had so much fun he started sitting down with a notebook regularly. He wrote Born to Run over the next seven years, often taking as long as a year off to come back fresh. A source close to the project says it spans his entire life, discussing key songs and what was going on in his life when he wrote them. “One of the questions I’m asked over and over again by fans on the street is ‘How do you do it?'” Springsteen writes in the book’s foreword. “In the following pages I will try to shed a little light on how and, more important, why.”

Mike Love and James S. Hirsch, ‘Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy’
Available Now
The first of the two Beach Boys memoirs coming this spring (see Brian Wilson’s book, below) aims to debunk Love’s image as the villain in the band, the guy who hated Pet Sounds and lobbed frivolous lawsuits at his bandmates. “Hundreds of thousands of words have been written about the Beach Boys,” Love tells Rolling Stone, “often by people who weren’t there.” The book goes deep into the tyrannical reign of first manager (and Love’s uncle) Murry Wilson, along with the band’s descent into darkness in the late Sixties (one of Sharon Tate’s killers babysat for Love’s kids). “My life story fits within the larger American dream, the California dream, if you will,” Love says.

books summer16 11

Lil Wayne, ‘Gone ‘Til November: A Journal of Rikers Island’
Available October 11th
After police discovered a loaded gun on his tour bus in 2007, Lil Wayne was sentenced to a year at New York’s notorious Rikers Island. Gone ‘Til November is his diary from behind bars. Entries detail the shame he felt when his family saw him in chains, and the time he says Drake visited to tell him he’d slept with Wayne’s girlfriend before she’d dated Wayne (which she declines to confirm). Wayne heads to solitary when guards find an MP3 player, and he steps over “big-ass puddles of blood” in the shower. “[Writing] became something I looked forward to every night,” Wayne says. “I hope people see I’m a regular motherfucker, just adjusting in an unusual environment.”

Brian Wilson with Ben Greenman, ‘I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir’
Available October 11th
Wilson’s first autobiography came in 1991, but it was largely the work of his overbearing live-in therapist, Eugene Landy. This time, Wilson tells his own story: his battles with his abusive father, the pressure to score hits in the Sixties and his long struggle with mental illness. “The voices were everywhere,” he writes about combating schizoaffective disorder in the Seventies. Wilson says he hopes “people come away with a better understanding of mental illness, perhaps more empathy for those who have it”.

books summer16 21

Peter Ames Carlin, ‘Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon’
Available October 11th
“No authoritative, deeply researched book about Paul Simon has ever been attempted,” says veteran rock biographer Peter Ames Carlin, who took on the task by interviewing more than 100 people from Simon’s past, from ex-girlfriends to collaborators (though Simon and Art Garfunkel didn’t participate). Homeward Bound is full of new stories; Carlin tracked down Heidi Berg, the former SNL band member who claimed she inspired the idea for Graceland when she gave him a tape of some of the South African musicians who would play on the album. He also goes deep into Simon’s rocky relationship with Garfunkel, revealing that Garfunkel never forgave him for signing a solo deal behind his back in 1957. “I was 15!” Simon shouted in a 1983 confrontation. Garfunkel replied, “You’re still the same guy.”

Phil Collins, ‘Not Dead Yet: The Memoir’
Available October 25th
Collins promises a “warts and all” biography covering his time in Genesis, his three divorces, and health struggles that have made it impossible to play drums in recent years. “To confront my mistakes was good for me,” says Collins. “I hope readers will get a new, and a more corrected, view of my life. Not always pretty, but the truth as I remember it.”

books summer16 testimony
Robertson and Dyland and the Band in 1976

Robbie Robertson, ‘TESTIMONY’
Available November 15th

“I needed to bring the incredible story of the Band to the surface,” says Robertson, the group’s guitarist and chief songwriter. He does, beginning with the day he took a train from Canada to Arkansas to join rockabilly hero Ronnie Hawkins’ band in 1961. It wraps 15 years later with the story of The Last Waltz. Robertson sheds new light on working with Bob Dylan and writing classics like “The Weight”. He recalls it all with astounding detail, considering it all took place more than 40 years ago. “I have an unusual memory chip from both my father’s side and my mother’s,” he says. “As a kid, it embarrassed me, but now it’s quite handy.”

Laura Jane Grace, ‘Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout’
Available November 15th
The Against Me! singer came out as a transgender woman in Rolling Stone in 2012. Her memoir reveals the heartbreaking aftermath, including a divorce and estrangement from family members. Old diary entries describe the horror of living in the wrong skin (“I can never be anything more than a pervert dressed in women’s clothes,” Grace wrote in 2004). “I hope the book gives people an insight into a lived experience different than their own and that they can relate to it,” says Grace. “Even if they don’t totally understand why.”

books summer16 bear
Stanley in 1991

Robert Greenfield, ‘Bear: The Life and Times of Augustus Owsley Stanley III’
Available November 15th
In 2007, Greenfield interviewed chemist Owsley Stanley III – whose pure, potent LSD was favoured by Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters and the Grateful Dead – for Rolling Stone. “I had so much material,” says Greenfield. Bear describes an eccentric genius and master manipulator: He persuaded his girlfriend, a U.C. Berkeley chem major, to drop out and make acid with him, and he eluded the law by pretending to run a legitimate lab. Greenfield also describes how Owsley (who died in 2011) created the Dead’s huge 1974 Wall of Sound PA system. “It was Owsley’s brain, in material form,” said drummer Bill Kreutzmann. “Impossible to tame.”

From issue #779, available now.