“One of those books that once you’ve read it, you wonder how we survived without it…. Informative, entertaining, frequently moving, and often surprising.” (Public Address)
My new book BREAKING DOWN THE WALLS OF HEARTACHE: HOW MUSIC CAME OUT was published in the UK by Constable (an imprint of Little,Brown) in OCTOBER 2016, and in the US by Backbeat (an imprint of Hal Leonard) in June 2017.
It’s a comprehensive history of the queer pioneers of Popular Music. The story starts in the British music halls of the early 1900s and then the Weimar Cabaret and Harlem blues scenes of the 1920s, and unfurls across the decades, and musical genres, to the present day, with over 90 new interviews, to tell the story of how music came out.
There have been essay-based books on this subject, but never a chronological narrative, as a slice of social and music history – so, as with my book on 4AD, there’s only likely to be one such book, so it’s to be definitive: hence 540 pages. Don’t drop it on your foot.
Popular music’s gay DNA is inarguable: from Elvis in eye shadow to k.d. lang’s female Elvis; from Little Richard’s ‘Tutti Frutti’ to David Bowie’s bisexual alien; from Frankie Say ‘Relax’ to House music godfather Frankie Knuckles; from Kurt Cobain in a dress to punk icon/couture model Beth Ditto, but most of the pioneers are forgotten, their bravery and risk-taking going widely unreported at the time – such as Baltimore’s lesbian rockabilly trio The Roc-a-Jets, from the 1950s. Or Britain’s gay glam – and new wave – band Handbag.
A Spotify playlist representing the book is here
An extensive interview about the book, on the Public Address blog, is here
4 star lead review in MOJO is here
And on the subject of books:.
“4AD gets the lavish label history they deserve” MOJO
“The book is an exquisite reflection of 4AD itself – extravagant, atmospheric, and rich in texture and timbre’” PITCHFORK”
“One of the greatest stories to emerge from rock and roll’s modern history” DROWNED IN SOUND
Available in hardback and paperback. The limited edition of a thousand copies, that splits the boo into two separate volumes, adds two CDs (4AD 1980s and 1990s, chosen and sequenced by the author) is sold out, though I have one remaining copy in my archives to sell if anyone is interested.
© 2014 Martin Aston