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The Irish Times books of the year: Best music books of 2022

Including Martha Wainwright, Miki Berenyi, Jarvis Cocker, Patti Smith, Paul Brady and Bono

Stories I Might Regret Telling You

By Martha Wainwright. Simon & Schuster

Too many musicians’ memoirs steer clear of under-the-fingernails nitty-gritty, but not this one, and not Martha Wainwright. To say that the Canadian singer (sister to Rufus, daughter of Loudon and Kate McGarrigle) presents private diary entries like a flurry of Post-it notes is an understatement.

Fingers Crossed: How Music Saved Me from Success

By Miki Berenyi. Nine Eight Books

Insightfully writing about her time in the Britpop band Lush, Miki Berenyi is refreshingly, disarmingly candid. From a distance of almost 30 years, she lays into the music industry’s misogynistic patterns and reflects, all too honestly, on her previous self-destructive behaviour.

Good Pop Bad Pop – An Inventory

By Jarvis Cocker. Jonathan Cape

Using long-forgotten items that he stored in boxes (from gig ticket stubs to carrier bags), Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker marks out his early life in narrative steps that are as idiosyncratic and inventive as they are intriguing.

Crazy Dreams

By Paul Brady. Merrion Press

Irish songwriter/singer Paul Brady finally tells his side of the story in a perceptive autobiography that homes in on his absorbing journey from small-town Tyrone, the fledgling Irish folk scene and big-name collaborations to a life of accepted independence.


Bodies: Life and Death in Music

By Ian Winwood. Faber

Ian Winwood explores – through interviews with rock stars, academics, psychotherapists and clinical psychologists – the failure of the music industry to care for the very people that keep it alive: songwriters, musicians, managers and road/touring crews.

Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story

By Bono. Sandycove

In perhaps the most surprising rock star autobiography of the year, U2′s lead singer comes across not as he is often perceived to be (insert your favourite insult here) but rather mostly a reflective, self-doubting, witty, modest and knowledgeable individual. At over 500 pages, this is wordy, but what else would you expect?

A Book of Days

By Patti Smith. Bloomsbury

Patti Smith’s approach to her latest book is more in line with “saying hello” and, via daily smartphone images, giving the reader/viewer a glimpse into one year of her pandemic-restricted world. A simple idea executed with natural grace.

This Woman’s Work: Essays on Music

Edited by Sinéad Gleeson and Kim Gordon. White Rabbit

Irish writer Sinéad Gleeson and US alt.rock musician Kim Gordon gather 16 essays by women writers, including themselves, in what is assuredly the most perceptively curated music-related (and emotion-imbued) collection of the year.

This article is part of our guide to the Irish Times books of the year. Follow one of these links to read Malachy Clerkin on sports books / Rory Kiberd on nonfiction books / Adrian Duncan on art books / Seán Hewitt and Martina Evans on poetry /Niamh Donnelly on fiction / Jane Casey on crime fiction / Claire Hennessy on young-adult fiction / Sara Keating on children’s books / Anne Enright, Colm Tóibín, Fintan O’Toole and more on their books of the year

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in popular culture