An enlightening, thoughtful and witty exploration into how and why we listen to music, from the award-winning author Michel Faber
‘I’m not here to change your mind about Dusty Springfield or Shostakovich or Tupac Shakur or synthpop. I’m here to change your mind about your mind.’
There are countless books on music with much analysis given to musicians, bands, eras and/or genres. But rarely does a book delve into what’s going on inside us when we listen.
Michel Faber explores two big questions: how we listen to music and why we listen to music. To answer these he considers biology, age, illness, the notion of ‘cool’, commerce, the dichotomy between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ taste and, through extensive interviews with musicians, unlocks some surprising answers.
From the award-winning author of The Crimson Petal and the White and Under the Skin, this curious and celebratory book reflects Michel Faber’s lifelong obsession with music of all kinds. Listen will change your relationship with the heard world.
“By turns discursive, celebratory and reflective … a beautifully written paean to music, examining the role that it plays in our lives and what it has meant to Faber himself. He is no snob, but no indulgent populist, either. Instead, he has written the best book of its type since Alex Ross’s The Rest Is Noise”
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“A series of finely tuned observations formed from personal memories, nuggets of neuroscience and interviews with musical luminaries”
“Fresh … Unlike any music book I have read. Often very funny as well as piercingly acute”
“Michel Faber wrote this book just for you”
“An extraordinary and compelling ‘journey into sound’ which examines close and distant listening in all its myriad ramifications, mainly in the form of music both popular and otherwise – and it’s particularly good at evaluating music’s intrinsic worth from a commercial and aesthetic viewpoint … Faber writes beautifully, non-condescendingly and provocatively about something as basic and fundamental to human existence as oxygen, and which like oxygen would be exceedingly hard to do without… I found this, Michel’s first non-fiction book, brilliant and a joy to read … He’s obviously listened and thought long and hard about the act and art of consuming sound/music – essentially, electrochemical reactions in the brain – in all its multitudinous splendor, and he raises many compelling points along the way … Listen is right up there with Richard Meltzer’s The Aesthetics of Rock and Geoffrey O’Brien’s Sonata for Jukebox at the top of my mental music shelf”
Michel Faber is the award-winning author of seven novels, three short-story collections and a poetry book. In addition to the Whitbread-shortlisted Under the Skin, he is the author of the highly acclaimed The Crimson Petal and the White and The Book of Strange New Things, which was shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award and won the Saltire Book of the Year Award. Born in Holland, brought up in Australia, he now lives in the UK.