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American Music

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Annie Leibovitz's extraordinary career took off in San Francisco in 1970 when she first submitted a portfolio to Rolling Stone magazine. By 1973 she was the magazine's chief photographer. Since 1983 Annie Leibovitz has worked closely with Vanity Fair, who will be producing a special music issue to coincide with the book. Her subjects include Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Aretha F Annie Leibovitz's extraordinary career took off in San Francisco in 1970 when she first submitted a portfolio to Rolling Stone magazine. By 1973 she was the magazine's chief photographer. Since 1983 Annie Leibovitz has worked closely with Vanity Fair, who will be producing a special music issue to coincide with the book. Her subjects include Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Dolly Parton, Marvin Gaye, Chuck Berry and even Philip Glass. She has created a body of new work for the book, covering the landscape of American music - the juke joints of the Delta, Graceland, B. B. King at his hometown of Indianola in Mississippi and the Carter family in Virginia. The book is a tribute to a great culture in its widest form by the photographer who has understood more than anybody the power of the iconic image.


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Annie Leibovitz's extraordinary career took off in San Francisco in 1970 when she first submitted a portfolio to Rolling Stone magazine. By 1973 she was the magazine's chief photographer. Since 1983 Annie Leibovitz has worked closely with Vanity Fair, who will be producing a special music issue to coincide with the book. Her subjects include Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Aretha F Annie Leibovitz's extraordinary career took off in San Francisco in 1970 when she first submitted a portfolio to Rolling Stone magazine. By 1973 she was the magazine's chief photographer. Since 1983 Annie Leibovitz has worked closely with Vanity Fair, who will be producing a special music issue to coincide with the book. Her subjects include Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Dolly Parton, Marvin Gaye, Chuck Berry and even Philip Glass. She has created a body of new work for the book, covering the landscape of American music - the juke joints of the Delta, Graceland, B. B. King at his hometown of Indianola in Mississippi and the Carter family in Virginia. The book is a tribute to a great culture in its widest form by the photographer who has understood more than anybody the power of the iconic image.

30 review for American Music

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jaimie

    Even though I had little recognition of many of the performers in this collection Leibovitz’s portraits are, as always, stunning. I fully expected this book to house examples of the photographer’s range of music-themed portraits and concert photography, but I was surprised upon reading the introduction to discover that this collection is actually a re-exploration of the theme after she stepped away from the music scene many years ago. Instead of containing images from her days at the helm of Rol Even though I had little recognition of many of the performers in this collection Leibovitz’s portraits are, as always, stunning. I fully expected this book to house examples of the photographer’s range of music-themed portraits and concert photography, but I was surprised upon reading the introduction to discover that this collection is actually a re-exploration of the theme after she stepped away from the music scene many years ago. Instead of containing images from her days at the helm of Rolling Stone magazine’s photography department, she explores folk music, the Deep South, and the roots of American music. This unfortunately didn’t give me much context for the images, since I don’t really connect with that genre of music (or it’s players, besides maybe some basic name recognition), but I still enjoyed perusing this highly personal project.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ray Dunsmore

    A fascinating journey through the paths of American music and those carrying on its traditions and creating their own. From country through blues to modern rock, rap, R&B, gospel and folk, Leibovitz gathers a wide scope of musicians into this oeuvre and, as always, some of these images are quite arresting. Willie Nelson in black-and-white profile, looking as monumental as a face on a mountain. The Roots giving an impromptu gig on the streets of Philadelphia in 2000. Brian Wilson alone, poolside, A fascinating journey through the paths of American music and those carrying on its traditions and creating their own. From country through blues to modern rock, rap, R&B, gospel and folk, Leibovitz gathers a wide scope of musicians into this oeuvre and, as always, some of these images are quite arresting. Willie Nelson in black-and-white profile, looking as monumental as a face on a mountain. The Roots giving an impromptu gig on the streets of Philadelphia in 2000. Brian Wilson alone, poolside, clad in bathrobe and beach shorts, a storm brewing in the distance. DJ Shadow in the process of splicing together unearthly beats from his massive hoard of records. Meg White strapped to a rotating target as Jack White prepares to throw the knife. The empty Preservation Hall in New Orleans, its namesake Jazz Band's instruments lying unclaimed in the dim morning light. Eartha Kitt from the waist down, her elegant legs draped dramatically over the cushions of a couch in lurid hotel light. The added essays from musicians inside range from the fascinating (Beck & Steve Earle) to the lyrical (Mos Def & Patti Smith) to the really ill-advised and creepy in hindsight (Ryan Adams).

  3. 4 out of 5

    Karla

    I loved that the entire novel was really a letter, in a way. There’s a mystery at the center so I can’t say too much more. But this YA book was short and sweet. I really liked it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    B___y__g

    Musical souls.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    Emotional imagery beautifully captured, I really enjoying this collection. Most of the images were taken around the same time, early 2000's shortly before this book was published, and just a few were more more representative of the span of her career (which I thought odd there weren't more of.) Some were completely recognizable bands or singers (Patti Smith, B.B. King, the White Stripes) but a surprising amount were back-roots or little-known singers I hadn't heard of. This book was laid out with Emotional imagery beautifully captured, I really enjoying this collection. Most of the images were taken around the same time, early 2000's shortly before this book was published, and just a few were more more representative of the span of her career (which I thought odd there weren't more of.) Some were completely recognizable bands or singers (Patti Smith, B.B. King, the White Stripes) but a surprising amount were back-roots or little-known singers I hadn't heard of. This book was laid out with full page and full spread images one after another with zero titles or descriptions. Then the last 30 or so pages had a small thumbnail of each image along with names of each person in the image, the year it was captured and the location, and a paragraph or two about the singer/band. Some descriptions had more heart than others, some sounded like they were copy-and-pasted from Wikipedia. This book would have been a full five stars if only it was laid out in such a way where all of the info about the photo was actually with the photo, either on the same page overlaid or with a slightly smaller photo and the info underneath etc. It just proved a little difficult to always care about the image - especially when I had no idea who the subject was - without any references. Otherwise, a truly gorgeous collection of images.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Maciek

    This is Leibovitz's photography of a broad slice of American music: from R.L. Burnside to Puff Daddy, from Johnny Cash to Aretha Franklin, from System of a Down to Lucinda Williams. It slices across genres and time. It's certainly not authoritative, but then this sort of work never can be. It is, however, compelling. Most musicians here have dedicated their lives to music. Some are incredibly famous and wealthy, others are largely unknown. Even within the same level of fame, there is great divers This is Leibovitz's photography of a broad slice of American music: from R.L. Burnside to Puff Daddy, from Johnny Cash to Aretha Franklin, from System of a Down to Lucinda Williams. It slices across genres and time. It's certainly not authoritative, but then this sort of work never can be. It is, however, compelling. Most musicians here have dedicated their lives to music. Some are incredibly famous and wealthy, others are largely unknown. Even within the same level of fame, there is great diversity. Many musicians are shown with their families, in their homes or tour buses. The disparity is fascinating--it shows us that there are myriad meaning to 'music' in America. There are short essays from a few musicians (including a seemingly ADD-addled Ryan Adams--or maybe he just writes like that) interspersed in the photos, and these are interesting, but not sensational. There are also one-paragraph bios for all the photos from Leibovitz which add some background, but they could have used an editor. Ultimately, the book sets out to produce a sketch of music in America, and though this sounds like an incredibly vague goal, it accomplishes this.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jereme

    Leibovitz's work is great. Beautiful tones and mood, and she chooses some great settings for the photos in this book. Her photography, brilliant as it is, usually doesn't do much for me. Just not my style. Too perfect, maybe. This book was different, though. Maybe because it featured many artists I really enjoy, or at least admire, and doesn't just focus on the superstars of the industry. Beside that subject matter, though, many of these photos just seem truer(?) than the stuff in other books of Leibovitz's work is great. Beautiful tones and mood, and she chooses some great settings for the photos in this book. Her photography, brilliant as it is, usually doesn't do much for me. Just not my style. Too perfect, maybe. This book was different, though. Maybe because it featured many artists I really enjoy, or at least admire, and doesn't just focus on the superstars of the industry. Beside that subject matter, though, many of these photos just seem truer(?) than the stuff in other books of hers I've read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Matt Amott

    this book combines my two favorite loves, music and photography. stunning pictures of "american music". so besides the superstars of top 40, it also contains some great jazz and bluesman. some of whom the world may not know, but they have been major influences in my life simce i was a boy. also, i'm reminded that my favorite photographer, lee friedlander, started as a photographer for blue note records and shot many jazz greats for the label and album covers. this book combines my two favorite loves, music and photography. stunning pictures of "american music". so besides the superstars of top 40, it also contains some great jazz and bluesman. some of whom the world may not know, but they have been major influences in my life simce i was a boy. also, i'm reminded that my favorite photographer, lee friedlander, started as a photographer for blue note records and shot many jazz greats for the label and album covers.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sara Stalder

    This book was so cool and interesting. This is a collection of famous musicians and even some famous places in America's music history. I was drawn into the book when I heard that Ryan Adams was featured in the book, I didn't know all of the people that were pictured in the book, but she gave a little information on the pictures in the back which was cool. I especially loved the excerpt from Ryan Adams that he wrote. It was so awesome and so raw. Very cool book. This book was so cool and interesting. This is a collection of famous musicians and even some famous places in America's music history. I was drawn into the book when I heard that Ryan Adams was featured in the book, I didn't know all of the people that were pictured in the book, but she gave a little information on the pictures in the back which was cool. I especially loved the excerpt from Ryan Adams that he wrote. It was so awesome and so raw. Very cool book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    Something about these photos bugged me. Trying to be "real" but in a one-note (ha) way. Maybe this is just Leibovitz's perspective, HER reality? That's ok, but I got the feeling that I was supposed to be like "WOW, this is HONEST." But nearly everyone had the same facial expressions - wistfully lonesome or slightly hostile! I don't get ittttt. What am I missing? Something about these photos bugged me. Trying to be "real" but in a one-note (ha) way. Maybe this is just Leibovitz's perspective, HER reality? That's ok, but I got the feeling that I was supposed to be like "WOW, this is HONEST." But nearly everyone had the same facial expressions - wistfully lonesome or slightly hostile! I don't get ittttt. What am I missing?

  11. 5 out of 5

    Scott W.

    Lots of great photographs of some very talented people. The inclusion of information on each photo's subject at the end really adds to it as there are many musicians I wouldn't have known anything about if not for this book! Lots of great photographs of some very talented people. The inclusion of information on each photo's subject at the end really adds to it as there are many musicians I wouldn't have known anything about if not for this book!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Terry

    This particular book focuses on Annie's passion of musicians. I saw this show at the Rock N Roll Hall of fame a few years ago. The book is amazing but the show was WOW! I can't even describe how excited I was or inspired I was! This particular book focuses on Annie's passion of musicians. I saw this show at the Rock N Roll Hall of fame a few years ago. The book is amazing but the show was WOW! I can't even describe how excited I was or inspired I was!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Traci

    An awesome collection of Annie Leibovitz's music based work which includes a lot of her work for Rolling Stone. I've loved her work since I was in high school so adding this to my book collection was a must. An awesome collection of Annie Leibovitz's music based work which includes a lot of her work for Rolling Stone. I've loved her work since I was in high school so adding this to my book collection was a must.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Beautiful, gut-level photographs of roots musicians, past and present, from Elvis Presley to Lucinda Williams and John Lee Hooker to Mary J. Blige. Some lyrical captioning. I bought it to thoroughly immerse myself in it and as a wonderful slice of Americana.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dottie

    Saw the exhibit at Austin MOMA -- the installation included iPod listening stations -- so not only were there the images of the musicians but one could hear the music -- wonderful. Naturally I had to pick up the a=catalogue/book before I left.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael Tapp

    The prints are stunning and a lot of them cover two pages. There are rarely any stage shots in this book, just musicians hanging out in their element. Annie is a photographer who doesn't get in the way of the photos. The prints are stunning and a lot of them cover two pages. There are rarely any stage shots in this book, just musicians hanging out in their element. Annie is a photographer who doesn't get in the way of the photos.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Geralyn

    excellent, the show at EMP was incredible.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Raaphorst

    great pictures of great musician, you can almost smell and hear them

  19. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    I found this book on the bargain table at the university bookstore. Great portraiture of some of the most iconic musicians in American history.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Piece two to owning all of her published work. I intend to own all some day

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brentabousko

    Pretty pictures

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I thought this book was very different and I enjoyed it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Simpelthen en fantastisk fotobog.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Belinda Hickling

  25. 5 out of 5

    Justin Barlow

  26. 4 out of 5

    Adam Taylor

  27. 5 out of 5

    James F Quilty

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sylvester Nnamuka

  29. 5 out of 5

    Edgar

  30. 4 out of 5

    Carol Beer

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