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Hail Columbia (Records)

Columbia Records recording artist Billy Joel.

On Oct. 30th, Columbia Records will release two books and a disc in celebration of its 125th anniversary. 360 Sound: The Columbia Records Story is written by Sean Wilentz and is being published by Chronicle books. It traces the history of the label from its founding in 1880 until today. At the same time, a separate book –The Columbia Records Story: Legends and Legacy–will be published. Author Dave Marsh will tell the stories of 263 of the greatest tracks released by the label. Marsh’s commentary will be accompanied by a disc with those tracks.

The release puts it in context:

Columbia’s list of major performers, past and present, is unsurpassed and includes much of the most important, and beloved music in all genres, including pop, rock, country, show tunes, classical, jazz, R&B, hip-hop, and blues. Artists recorded by Columbia and its subsidiaries have included Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Miles Davis, Leonard Bernstein, Johnny Cash, Beyonce, Adele, Billy Joel, Al Jolson, Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Robert Johnson, Bing Crosby, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Tony Bennett, Simon and Garfunkel, Leonard Cohen, Neil Diamond, Aerosmith, Elvis Costello, Willie Nelson, Yo-Yo Ma, LL Cool J, James Taylor, Philip Glass, Mariah Carey, Lauryn Hill, Dixie Chicks, John Mayer, Jack White, and more.

Here is a more complete list of current or past Columbia artists.

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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.