Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Happy Birthday!

Five years ago this month I published Field Recordings from the Inside with Soft Skull Press, a collection of personal essays about music, listening to music, being in love with music, and about how music soundtracks our lives in both small and profound ways. If you missed the book the first time I spun it, it's still available at the usual joints (here, here, or here, and hopefully your local bookstore).

This is what some folks had to say: 

[Bonomo] looks at the ways music influenced and underscored events throughout his life. The best essays here extend that gaze beyond his own life and into those of other artists and their audiences . . . [a] great collection.―Publishers Weekly

The writings he collects for this mix tape of memories are deep cuts . . . That is the appeal of this genre-spanning collection, along with the mix tapes: no special musical expertise is necessary for appreciating Bonomo’s point of view or the richly described nostalgia. Just drop the needle, hit play, scroll, or turn the page and enjoy. ―Booklist

The collection’s 18 essays do what the best music writing is supposed to do—they make the reader care, regardless of whether they enjoy, or are familiar with, the material being written about; I was mostly willing to follow Bonomo anywhere he wanted to go.—Los Angeles Review of Books


What is music? More importantly, what isn't music? In Field Recordings from the Inside, Joe Bonomo looks at family and faith, country and culture, Mississippi and Memphis, life and death, with sharp eyes (and ears) and a strong heart, shining a light on the past to help arm the present to make sense of the future. If you want beautiful writing in the service of powerful emotions, you want this book.―Ben Greenman, author of Mo Meta Blues and The Slippage

It’s so easy for critics to spend all their time worrying over how pop music gets made – the granular technical details, what a song or record means in its various historical or social contexts. Joe Bonomo understands those things, but still returns to what’s arguably the most crucial component of art: how it makes us feel and what it does to our lives. Field Recordings from the Inside is a beautiful, revelatory book about what it means to be a human with headphones on. ―Amanda Petrusich, author of Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World's Rarest 78rpm Records

Part memoir, part criticism, Field Recordings from the Inside maps the ways music can define and shape our lives―which, in Joe Bonomo's case, encompasses local bands and Top 40 one-hit wonders, Hank Williams and Frank Sinatra, everything that gets inside if your ears are open enough.―Alan Light, author of The Holy or the Broken and former Editor-Chief of Spin Magazine

Field Recordings from the Inside is the first book I’ve encountered that expertly blends my two favorite kinds of writing: music criticism and the literary essay. Joe Bonomo combines sound, the self, and the “roll and prank” of an essayistic mind to create a book that skates between discussions of history, records, coming of age, literature, relationships, and great rock-and-rollers. This book is a thoughtful and sonorous pleasure from start to finish. ―Elena Passarello, author of Let Me Clear My Throat and Animals Strike Curious Poses


laureanne said...

I haven't read it, but I will. Through you, I learned about Rachel Nagy and the Detroit Cobras. Thank you for that. For me, your random music posts are akin to flipping through the bins at the record store and buying an unfamiliar band's album based on the cover art.

Joe Bonomo said...

Thanks so much, laureanne!

Anonymous said...

It’s in my holiday list, Joe… looking very much forward!

Joe Bonomo said...

Right on, anon! Thanks! And it's not too late to spread the word!

Mari L'Esperance said...

Joe, that was "Anon" was me -- Mari from Facebook! Sorry, I didn't realize my comment would be anonymous. Can't wait to read your book!

Joe Bonomo said...

Ha, thanks so much. Cheers again