I’m in the Band: Fiction and Memoir about Music-making

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The power of music is hard to communicate in words – but the powerful social dynamics of being in a band is a rich creative subject: a group of people who have to get along, fight for their visions, see each other during the experience of mind-numbing travel along with the euphoric high of performance. These four books cover that territory with emotional realism in memoir, fiction, or biography. They cover bands that have just formed (at jazz camp), bands that have broken up (with demonic influence), bands whose strong personalities and talent made them iconic, and bands who put their heart and soul into making funny, raunchy, and celebratory music about a facet of their selves that had not previously been sung about. If you’ve been in a band you’ll relate in some way to these stories, and if you haven’t, then now you’ll know.

California Dreamin': Cass Elliot before The Mamas & The Papas

Cass Elliot (aka Mama Cass) had an indelible voice, one that became synonymous with the group The Mamas & The Papas. But she initially wasn’t wanted in the group – she had to push her way in and prove her worth. This memoir in graphic novel format shows how Cass, growing up as Ellen Cohen, had to fight to be recognized for most of her life – from Baltimore to California, in love and in friendship – in order to fulfill her dreams.

We Sold Our Souls

Kris Pulaski came so close to heavy metal fame with her band Dürt Würk, back in the mid-’90s. But on the eve of finishing their 3rd and best album, Troglodyte, tragedy occurs and a black hole swallows up Kris’s life. She survives in her hometown in a dead end job until she sees her former bandmate and friend, who got rich by betryaing Kris, is mounting a comeback tour. She starts to wonder what really went wrong on that fateful night, and if she sold more than her dignity when the band signed their contracts.

Deflowered: My Life in Pansy Division

Growing up gay and into punk rock in the late 70s, Jon Ginoli didn’t see much representation or support of the LGBTQ community. For a long time he tried to keep the two separate, but when he finally put together an out and proud queercore band, Pansy Division, he went from playing in DIY spaces to headlining for Green Day as they became a huge household name. In this memoir he describes what it was really like to be a working musician breaking stereotypes in the punk community.