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5 Books for the Seattle Music Lover

Want to go beyond an article? These books offer deep dives into local history.

By Stefan Milne November 20, 2018 Published in the December 2018 issue of Seattle Met

In a city with as rich a music scene as ours, it's hard to do justice to a whole century in one article. These texts were invaluable resources in researching this month's "Crash Course: A Century of Seattle Music" story. 

Before Seattle Rocked
Kurt E. Armbruster
If you’re to read only one book on Seattle music, I recommend this. Most of us know about this city’s guitar rock bona fides. Far less known about is all the other music that’s issued from this region. Armbruster’s account is swift, witty, and comprehensive.

Jackson Street After Hours
Paul de Barros
While Armbruster devotes some pages to Seattle’s early jazz days, de Barros offers up the detailed account the scene deserves. It’s evocative and richly researched—including interviews with Ernestine Anderson, Quincy Jones, and Ray Charles. Its compendium of photographs alone is worth a look.  

Sonic Boom
Peter Blecha
Somebody had to write the history of the stuff we already thought we knew—along with plenty that we didn't. Blecha, who’s written a number of books on local music and contributed significantly to History Link on the subject, dives into the stretch between “Louie Louie” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” when local rock came of age.

Girls to the Front
Sara Marcus
Why’d it take until 2010 to get a narrative telling of riot grrrl? Marcus’s high energy retelling of feminist punk scenes that sprouted in the two Washington capitals (DC and Olympia) also is a book that connects local music to the national.

Everybody Loves Our Town
Mark Yarm
Yarm’s oral history recounts Seattle music’s biggest moment. Everybody Loves Our Town is complied from over 250 interviews—Mudhoney’s Mark Arm, Kathleen Hanna, Eddie Vedder, and Sub Pop’s Megan Jasper all pop up. But what could read as a diffuse slog of Seattle grunge instead hurtles along in epic candor.  

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