Fifty great writers reflect on the albums that shaped them in this captivating collection curated by the New Statesman's Tom Gatti.
Our favorite albums are our most faithful companions: we listen to them hundreds of times over decades, we know them far better than any novel or film. These records don't just soundtrack our lives but work their way deep inside us, shaping our outlook and identity, forging our friendships and charting our love affairs. They become part of our story.
In Long Players, fifty of our finest authors write about the albums that changed their lives, from Deborah Levy on Bowie to Daisy Johnson on Lizzo, Ben Okri on Miles Davis to David Mitchell on Joni Mitchell, Sarah Perry on Rachmaninov to Bernardine Evaristo on Sweet Honey in the Rock.
Part meditation on the album form and part candid self-portrait, each of these miniature essays reveals music's power to transport the listener to a particular time and place. REM's Automatic for the People sends Olivia Laing back to first love and heartbreak, Bjork's Post resolves a crisis of faith and sexuality for a young Marlon James, while Fragile by Yes instils in George Saunders the confidence to take his own creative path.
This collection is an intoxicating mix of memoir and music writing, spanning the golden age of vinyl and the streaming era, and showing how a single LP can shape a writer's mind.
Featuring writing from Marlon James, Ali Smith, George Saunders, Bernardine Evaristo, Ian Rankin, Rachel Kushner, Ben Okri, Patricia Lockwood, Sarah Perry, Neil Gaiman, Tracey Thorn, Clive James, Eimear McBride, Neil Tennant, Daisy Johnson, David Mitchell, Esi Edugyan, Deborah Levy, among many others.
“[A] collection of writers' love letters to their most treasured albums ... Headphones are donned, needles are dropped, minds are blown, lives are changed” - Dorian Lynskey, Observer
“A richly textured snapshot survey of artists on art ... At their best the pieces reveal something useful about the writer, the music, the world at large and the world at that moment” - Guardian
“Tom Gatti's brilliantly edited collection offers a captivating mix of memoir and music writing ... Long Players is informative and entertaining ... Like a book equivalent of Desert Island Discs, the joy is in discovering what celebrated authors choose as their favourite music. The answers are considered, colourful and frequently surprising” - Sarah Gilmartin, Irish Times
“Great writing about great records. What more could you possibly want?” - Paul Morley
“[Long Players] benefits from an excellent introduction by Gatti that is filled with interesting tidbits of information on various topics, including the history of the album form . . . think of Long Players as a transistor radio, one with access to unusually good stations.” - Los Angeles Review of Books
“The revelations discussed brilliantly convey the power music has to shape individual lives. Music lovers will want to put this on repeat” - Publishers Weekly
“Inspired … Marvellous ... While this book is more than just an exercise in nostalgia, I often felt a desire, when reading it, to be able to listen to music with the intensity I did when I was 12 … Enormous care has gone into the book’s packaging. It comes with a cover illustration that evokes, in clever ways, the mesmerizing and boldly original cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” - LA Review of Books
“Tom Gatti has assembled an all-star cast of 50 writers and music lovers, each detailing their relationship with a single album … We’re in expert hands … What results is a kaleidoscopic array of influences, histories, recollections of innocence, debauchery, and even trauma” - Happy Mag
“In this impassioned collection, the New Statesman editor gathers writers’ love letters to the music that changed them . . . The revelations discussed brilliantly convey the power music has to shape individual lives” - Publishers Weekly, Holiday Gift Guide
“While being a collection of reminiscences by writers about the records that had a pivotal effect on them, this is also a homage to the LP itself ...The contributions are meditative, often atmospheric” - Spectrum, Sydney Morning Herald
“Each composition blurs the line between memoir and music writing while demonstrating a song’s ability to carry a listener to another place and time” - The Slowdown