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Confessions of a Serial Songwriter

Confessions of a Serial Songwriter

by Shelly Peiken

From the songwriter behind such hits as “What a Girl Wants” and “Bitch” comes a memoir that offers an insider’s perspective on the music business and the craft of songwriting.



Shelly Peiken, well known for writing culturally resonant, female-empowerment anthems such as Christina Aguilera’s No. 1 hit “What a Girl Wants” and Meredith Brooks’s smash hit, “Bitch,” looks back on her career and inside the business of songwriting in her memoir, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter.

A humorous and poignant pop culture memoir about Peiken’s journey, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter takes readers into the rarefied world of the music business. From a young girl falling under the spell of magical songs to a working professional writing hits of her own, Peiken describes how she built a career, from fledgling songwriter, pounding the streets of New York City to Grammy nominations, international hits, and the first Number One song of the millennium.

David Wild, contributing editor for Rolling Stone, calls Confessions of a Serial Songwriter “a great book [that offers] an insightful, honest, often funny, emotional look inside the good, the bad, the ugly, and ultimately the transcendent aspects of trying to lead a creative life inside a competitive career.”

In addition to the fascinating biographical trajectory, Peiken presents invaluable information for the aspiring songwriter, including tips about the creative process and how to adapt to the constantly changing currents. “Now more than ever, people who want to enter this topsy-turvy world of professional songwriting need to know how to handle the inevitable ups and downs that accompany what, for me, has a been an incredibly gratifying journey,” said Peiken.

In Confessions of a Serial Songwriter, Peiken writes about personal growth, how to recognize your muse and navigate the creative process as well as the struggles that arise between motherhood and career success. While she’s not afraid to delve into the divas, celebrity egos and schemers, it is the talented and remarkable people she’s found along the way that predominate the text. And, finally, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter raises the obvious though universal challenge of getting older and staying relevant in a rapidly changing and youth-driven world.


6.0″ x 9.0″
280 pages
Softcover Original

B/W photographs throughout
Hal Leonard Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation



SHELLY PEINKEN is a Grammy-nominated songwriter. She has been a prolific, behind-the-scenes force in the music business for more than two decades. Her songs have sold in excess of 50 million records. She is beast known for penning culturally resonant anthems, including Christina Aguilera’s “What a Girl Wants, Meredith Brooks’s “Bitch,” and songs recorded by Britney Spears, Celine Dion, Natalie Cole, the Pretenders, Keith Urban, Cher, the Backstreet Boys, and many others. She lives in Los Angeles.


The Rocky Horror Picture Show

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Everything Left to Know About the Campy Cult Classic

by Dave Thompson


When assessing the cultural impact of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, author Dave Thompson does not pull his punches: “Forty-plus years on from its debut in a tiny London theater; four decades, too, from its transition to the silver screen, Rocky Horror stands among the 1970s’ most lasting, and successful, contributions to modern culture.”

Thompson’s latest contribution to the Applause Books FAQ series, The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ (April 2016, Applause Books, $19.99) is the in-depth story of not only the legendary stage show and movie, but of a unique period in theatrical history, in both the movie’s UK homeland and overseas.

Inside these pages, we see Rocky Horror as sexual cabaret and political subversion, as modern mega-hit and Broadway disaster. At the movie house, we learn when to shout, what to throw, and why people even do those things. Here is the full story of the play’s original creation; its forebears and its influences are laid out in loving detail, together with both the triumphs and tragedies that attended it across the next 40 years.

Packed with anecdotes, The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ is the story of dozens of worldwide performances and the myriad stars who have been featured in them. From Tim Curry to Anthony Head, from Reg Livermore to Gary Glitter, from Daniel Abineri to Tom Hewitt, the lives and careers of the greatest ever Frank N. Furters stalk the pages, joined by the Riff-Raffs, Magentas, Columbias, and all the rest.

 The book also includes the largest and most in-depth Rocky Horror discography ever published, plus a unique timeline – The Ultimate Rocky Horror Chronology – detailing the who, what, where, and when of absolute pleasure.

 The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ will have you doing the Time Warp again!


6.0″ x 9.0″
 400 pages
B&W illustrations and photographs throughout
Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation



Dave Thompson is the author of more that 100 books on television, music, and pop culture, with previous titles in the Backbeat Books and Applause Books FAQ Series on Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Who, South Park, The Twilight Zone and soccer. His writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, Spin, Goldmine, MOJO, Melody Maker and other outlets. He lives in Newark, Del.


Pearl Jam FAQ

Pearl Jam FAQ

All That’s Left to Know About Seattle’s Most Enduring Band

by Thomas Edward Harkins and Bernard M. Corbett


With record sales of nearly 32 million in the United States and an estimated 60 million worldwide and with no end in sight, Pearl Jam can stake its claim to being the most successful, enduring, and influential band to emerge from the Seattle (or pretty much anywhere else) in the 1990s.

 In Pearl Jam FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About Seattle’s Most Enduring Band (May 2016, Backbeat Books, $19.99), authors Thomas Edward Harkins and Bernard M. Corbett explore the entire arc of the band’s career, from their pre-Pearl Jam days to the present. Each of 30 chapters explores a different aspect of Pearl Jam’s fascinating history.

Pearl Jam FAQ looks the band members’ successes, failures, and tragedies prior to joining forces, as well as their early days as Mookie Blaylock and the unusual manner in which they came up with the name finally stuck. Then, Harkins and Corbett go inside the studio and analyze each of their albums in turn and hit the road with them as they set out to conquer Seattle, the West Coast of the United States, and then the entire world.

Beyond the music, Pearl Jam FAQ takes a long look at the way Pearl Jam adapted to an ever-changing media landscape where MTV, not radio, is the major power broker. The book also addresses their battles with Ticketmaster and explores about the roots of their socio-political activism.

With a view of the band from every angle and in every context – on CD, on vinyl, on the radio, on television, on film, in videos, onstage, backstage, on the road, in the air, and at home – through the eyes of Pearl Jam enthusiasts, Pearl Jam FAQ presents a must-have text for band devotees to devour.

6.0″ x 9.0″
400 pages
BackBeat Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation



THOMAS EDWARD HARKINS is a media ecologist and former adjunct professor who spent ten years teaching undergraduates at NYU’s Steinhardt Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, and a year at Adelphi University. The two-(nearly three!)-time New York University alumnus now works as a freelance writer and editor in his native Brooklyn. Rock ’n’ roll is his abiding passion.

BERNARD M. CORBETT is the radio voice of Harvard University football and Boston University hockey. The Massachusetts native and Boston University alumnus is the author of nearly 20 books, most of them dealing with sports and rock ’n’ roll. The music historian has worked with the late, legendary NYC DJ Pete Fornatale on books about Woodstock and the Rolling Stones. He lives in Boston.


This Bird Has Flown

This Bird Has Flown

The Enduring Beauty of Rubber Soul, Fifty Years On

by John Kruth

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ pivotal album, released on Dec. 3 1965.


The Beatles’ sixth studio album, Rubber Soul, was a game changer, and in This Bird Has Flown: The Enduring Beauty of Rubber Soul, Fifty Years On, (November 2015, Backbeat Books, $19.99) John Kruth not only analyzes the songs and making of Rubber Soul, putting the album in context of the turbulent times in which it was created, but captures the spirit of musical innovation and poetry that makes the record a standout in the Beatle’s canon.

By December 1965, when the album was released, the Beatles had played the first arena rock show at Shea Stadium for 55,000 delirious fans, been awarded MBE (Member of British Empire) medals, and were indisputably the greatest musical phenomenon since Elvis Presley. With their first film, A Hard Day’s Night, John, Paul, George, and Ringo laid down the blueprint for everyone who ever wanted to form a group. The movie, entertaining as it was, became an instruction manual for aspiring pop stars of the day on how to play, dress, and act. Richard Lester’s 1964 comedy turned out to be the touchstone for every music video that followed.

Then, with the release of Rubber Soul, the Beatles created an artistic benchmark to which their peers measured their craft and creativity. Touring the world over two years, the band had grown up fast. Both musically and lyrically their new album represented a major leap. Upon hearing Rubber Soul, Bob Dylan allegedly remarked, “I get it, you’re not cute anymore.” Newsweek hailed the Beatles as “the Bards of Pop,” while critic Greil Marcus claimed Rubber Soul was “the best album they would ever make.” For Traffic’s Steve Winwood, the album “broke everything open. It crossed music into a whole new dimension and was responsible for kicking off the sixties rock era.”

A must-have for Fab Four devotees, This Bird Has Flown reaffirms Rubber Soul’s place as one of the most important rock ’n’ roll albums ever made.

6.0″ x 9.0″
232 pages
BackBeat Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation


JOHN KRUTH has written for the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Wire, and Wax Poetics. His books include Rhapsody in Black: The Life and Music of Roy Orbison, published by Backbeat Books, To Live’s to Fly: The Ballad of the Late, Great Townes Van Zandt, winner of the 2008 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award, and Bright Moments: The Life and Legacy of Rahsaan Roland Kirk. A musician and music professor, Kruth teaches at the College of Mount Saint Vincent and lives in New York City.


Jean Ritchie’s Kentuck Mother Goose

Jean Ritchie’s Kentucky Mother Goose

Songs and Stories from My Childhood

by Jean Ritchie with Susan Brumfield

“The Mother of Folk Music,” Jean Ritchie, who died earlier this year, shares family stories, memories, and her favorite songs growing up.


Jean Ritchie’s Kentucky Mother Goose is a collection of songs, rhymes and stories recalled from childhood by the legendary folk singer, who died in June 2015 at the age of 92.

The youngest of 14 children in a singing family from Viper, Ky., she grew up surrounded by the ballads, hymns, play-party songs, singing games and dulcimer tunes that formed the Ritchie Family repertoire. Toward the end of her life, returning to the earliest memories of the songs and the stories surrounding them, Ritchie joined forces with coauthor Susan Brumfield to create this charming anthology.

Jean Ritchie’s Kentucky Mother Goose includes a CD, featuring 50 of Ritchie’s recordings, including those of her singing with famed collector Alan Lomax in the 1940s and ’50s and for Brumfield in the 2000s. The book itself has reader-friendly transcriptions of the songs and rhymes, enlightening notes on history and performance, and related stories that colorfully evoke Ritchie’s Appalachian childhood.

This richly illustrated volume also features photos from Richies’s family collection, and by her husband, photographer and filmmaker George Pickow, as well as never-before-published drawings by beloved artist and children’s author, Maurice Sendak.

Full of Ritchie’s spirit and a delight for the eye and ear alike, Jean Ritchie’s Kentucky Mother Goose is both a fascinating window into a musical icon’s beginnings and a fitting tribute to the memory of a true American treasure.


6.0″ x 9.0″
360 pages
BackBeat Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation


JEAN RITCHIE collected, composed, and recorded a wealth of folk music over her long career. She released dozens of albums, performed with artists such as Pete Seeger, written songs recorded by legends from Judy Collins to Johnny Cash, and inspired and influenced generations of musicians. She died in June 2015 at the age of 91.

SUSAN BRUMFIELD is the author of Hot Peas and Barley-O: Children’s Songs and Games from Scotland and Over the Garden Wall: Children’s Songs and Games from England, as well as First, We Sing! Kodály-Inspired Teaching for the Music Classroom. She teaches music education at Texas Tech University and lives in Lubbock, Texas.



Buck ‘Em! The Autobiography of Buck Owens

Buck ‘Em!

The Autobiography of Buck Owens

by Buck Owens and Randy Poe


Born in Texas and raised in Arizona, Buck Owens eventually found his way to Bakersfield, California, where he created his own brand of country music, some 2,000 miles away from Music City. Inspiring everyone from ordinary music fans to the Beatles, he changed the way country records were mixed, produced, written, and perceived. Owens’ records sold millions of copies, and his live concerts constantly sold out. In 1969, he began hosting the country comedy TV show Hee Haw, becoming a household name. Buck Owens became country music’s biggest star while breaking all the rules of Nashville.

In the latter half of the 1990s, Owens began working on his autobiography, Buck ’Em! (Backbeat Books, Nov. 2013, $29.99). Over several years, he spoke into a cassette tape recorder for nearly 100 hours, recording the story of his life. With his near-photographic memory, he recalled everything from his early days wearing hand-me-down clothes in Texas to his glory years as the biggest country star of the 1960s and beyond. Grammy-nominated producer and author Randy Poe assembled all of Owens’ stories and transcribed them so that they are in Owens’ own words. In the preface of the book, Dwight Yoakam says, “The stream of stories throughout this book captures, with an uncanny accuracy, the way I heard Buck speak whenever he told a story to someone.”

Buck Owens made his successes look easy, but he was a hard-working and complex individual. While surviving the Dust Bowl years of the Great Depression, he was filled with the drive “to be somebody.” He struggled to change his life and went on to change the lives of almost every other person he came into contact with. He worked harder than anyone else in the field of country music, and he did so on his own terms—tackling the stigma that only Nashville country was “real” country—with his revolutionary Bakersfield sound.

Buck ’Em!: The Autobiography of Buck Owens and Buck ’Em!: The Music of Buck Owens (1955–1967), a two-CD set being released as a companion to the book from Omnivore Recordings November 5, carry on the legacy of the country music superstar.

6.0″ x 9.0″
360 pages
BackBeat Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation


Buck Owens (1929–2006) is a country music legend who passed away seven years ago at age 76. His band the Buckaroos had 21 #1 hits on the Billboard country music charts, and he is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Randy Poe is the president of Leiber & Stoller Music Publishing in Los Angeles. He is a Grammy-nominated record producer and an award-winning author whose books include the bestseller Skydog: The Duane Allman Story and Stalking the Red Headed Stranger. Poe has produced, compiled, and/or written the liner notes for over 100 albums. He is the former president of the California Copyright Conference and is on the advisory board of renowned folk music publication Sing Out! The former executive director of the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York, Randy Poe lives in Los Angeles and is available for interviews.


Baseball FAQ

Baseball FAQ

All That’s Left to Know About America’s Pastime

by Tom DeMichael


For 10 years, the Backbeat Books FAQ Series has been a one-stop source for information, history, and minutiae on the world of music and pop culture. The Beatles and Bruce Springsteen, The Doors and Johnny Cash, Dracula and the Beats any many more all have gone under the FAQ microscope. Now the FAQ Series has turned its focus to America’s Pastime.              

Was Abner Doubleday the architect of baseball? What exactly did it mean to be a “professional” baseball player in the 1870s? What goes on in the front office? How do you throw a slider? Readers will find the answers to these questions – and many others – in the pages Baseball FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About America’s Pastime (March 2016, Backbeat Books, $19.99) by Tom DeMichael.

Part history book, part instructional guide, and part reference manual, Baseball FAQ covers all the bases – from the rules of the game to the ballparks of yesterday and today, from the minor leagues to the majors, from the stats to the food. This engaging, compulsively readable tome offers baseball fans of all ages a wealth of fun facts and anecdotes on America’s favorite pastime, including sections on the All-American Girls Professional Ball League, the Negro Leagues, the basic skills of baseball, baseball in the movies, the scandals, and the Hall of Famers.

DeMichael, a member of SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research, also digs to into the sport’s seemingly inexhaustible fascination with numbers. While the 19th-century journalist Henry Chadwick was the father of baseball statistics, it was Bill James who coined the term “Sabermetrics” in 1980 and ushered in the era of modern statistical analysis. DeMichael defines Sabermetrics as “an accurate and balanced method by which we can compare players from different eras,” and Baseball FAQ looks at the latest wave of statistical acronyms, including OPS, WHIP, FIP, and WAR.

Looking beyond the wins and losses and the runs, hits, and errors, Baseball FAQ is a remarkable baseball reference and fun-filled reading for fans of the game.


6.0″ x 9.0″
392 pages
BackBeat Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation


TOM DEMICHAEL holds a degree in U.S. History and has published numerous books and magazine articles on subjects as diverse as American film, American firefighting, collectible toys, and television’s greatest game shows. This is his third book in the FAQ Series following James Bond FAQ and Modern Sci-Fi Films FAQ. A lifelong baseball fan, he is a member of SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research, and once legged a triple into a double at a Cubs fantasy camp game at Wrigley Field. He lives in Chicago.


The Band Photographs, 1968-1969

The Band Photographs,1968-1969

By Elliott Landy


Over 200 photographs, more than half never before published, document the creation of the Band’s first two albums, as seen through the lens of Elliott Landy.

On rare exalted occasions, a photographer gains the trust of a performer or band, and his work fuses with theirs in such a way that the two entities become “married” in the public consciousness. One can think of David Duncan’s pictures of Picasso at work or Alfred Wertheimer’s pictures of Elvis backstage in 1956.

The Band Photographs, 1968-1969 (December 2015, Backbeat Books, $44.99), Elliott Landy’s chronicle of the Band from 1968 to 1969, is of such importance. The mutual trust and collaborative partnership was so deep that this collection of photographs forms an intimate portrait of a group of musicians not only engaged in their craft, but captured as they created a new genre of music.  

 Originally crowdfunded by what would become Kickstarter’s highest funded campaign for a photography book, The Band Photographs, 1968-1969 features more than 200 photographs documenting the making of the Band’s first two albums, Music from Big Pink and The Band. More than half of the photos, drawn from Landy’s archive of more than 12,000 images, have never been published before.

“I designed and created this book entirely in my own studio, with complete creative control,” Landy explained. “Because of this, I was able to lay out the photos as I wanted, in order to create the most harmonious visual book experience and communicate what was going on in front of the camera.

The book also features commentary from John Simon, who produced the Band’s first two albums and was considered the Band’s sixth member, and an introduction by Jonathan Taplin, tour manager for the Band from 1969 to 1972. As Taplin writes in his foreword, “In a sense, these pictures are the photographic analogue of The Band’s song, ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’—harkening back to the formal portraiture of Matthew Brady and other late 19th Century photographers. But these pictures are honest and true. They live in the photographic tradition of Robert Frank’s The Americans. Elliott’s images are a record of a wonderfully creative period in America that won’t come again.”

12.0″ x 12.0″
160 pages
Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation


ELLIOTT LANDY is one of the first music photographers to be recognized as an “artist.” His images of Bob Dylan and the Band, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Joan Baez, Van Morrison, Richie Havens, and many others documented the music scene during that classic rock-and-roll period that culminated with the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival, for which he was the official photographer. His photographs have appeared on the covers of major magazines such as Life, Saturday Evening Post, and Rolling Stone, and in all media internationally for the past 40 years. He is author of six books, including Woodstock Vision: The Spirit of a Generation, also published by Backbeat Books. He lives in Woodstock, N.Y.



You’ve Heard These Hands

You’ve Heard These Hands

From the Wall of Sound to the Wrecking Crew and Other Incredible Stories

by Don Randi with Karen “Nish” Nishimura

A veteran musician and master story teller presents the stories behind the songs!


“I’m Don Randi and you’ve heard my hands.”

With that, Don Randi begins his introduction to You’ve Heard These Hands: From the Wall of Sound to the Wrecking Crew and Other Incredible Stories (Sept. 2015, Hal Leonard Books, $24.99), a fascinating look at the life and musical times a keyboard musician, composer, arranger, music director, and record producer who has thrilled music lovers for years, even if they weren’t aware of it.

Randi played keyboards on over a thousand popular recordings and was a member of the remarkable “Wrecking Crew” of studio musicians during the explosive pop music era of the 1960s and early 1970s. Nancy Sinatra, the Beach Boys, the Jackson 5, Elvis Presley, Sammy Davis Jr., Neil Diamond, and Linda Ronstadt are among the many music greats Randi has worked with and writes about in You’ve Heard These Hands.

For many years, only music industry insiders, close friends, and jazz fans who visit Randi’s nightclub, The Baked Potato, have heard him tell some of the amazing, heartfelt, and hilarious personal stories in this collection. Now everyone can discover the in-studio, behind-the-scenes, and on-tour tales from the man whose hands we’ve heard playing on our favorite hit tunes. You’ve Heard These Hands will capture the attention and emotion of its readers, who won’t be able to resist sharing Randi’s stories with their friends.

6.0″ x 9.0″
280 pages
Hal Leonard Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation


DON RANDI is a composer, arranger, music director, and keyboard musician. As part of the legendary “Wrecking Crew” group of studio musicians, he made hundreds of hit records in the 1960s and 1970s. He founded The Baked Potato jazz club in Los Angeles in 1970 and has owned it ever since, and he has released 20 jazz albums of his own, including the 1980 Grammy-nominated New Baby and the 2013 Acoustimania. He lives in Agoura Hills, Calif.


KAREN “NISH” NISHIMURA is an independent writer and an entertainment producer behind many digital advertising campaigns and promotions, including projects for Disney Online, Sony Pictures, Mattel, and CBS. A passionate jazz lover, she met Don Randi at The Baked Potato and eagerly agreed to become his biographer. She lives in Los Angeles.


Ravel: A Listener’s Guide

Unlocking the Masters

Ravel: A Listener’s Guide

 by Victor Lederer


An enigma to those who knew him, Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) composed some of the most popular and beloved music in the repertory. In Ravel: A Listener’s Guide (November 2015, Amadeus Press, $19.99), Victor Lederer surveys and explores this master’s refined and utterly distinctive oeuvre.

Ravel is often mentioned in the same breath as his older contemporary Claude Debussy, but the works of the two composers display as many differences as similarities. Where Debussy rejected existing forms, the structuralist Ravel embraced the baroque suite and classical sonata form as vehicles for his ideas, in addition to his own concise inventions. At his best, which is where we usually find this focused stylist, passion flows just beneath some of the most exquisitely crafted surfaces in music, under which lurk ironies that raise as many questions as answers. A perfect example is Boléro, Ravel’s most famous work, a strange but fascinating experiment that one can hear as maddening or irresistible. Lederer analyzes Bolero and looks at the outsized role it has assumed in our culture.

Lederer walks the reader and listener through Ravel’s relatively small but crucial contributions to orchestral, vocal, chamber, and piano music. Ravel’s two operas, idiosyncratic and underappreciated, are examined in detail as well. The book includes a Naxos CD that samples masterpieces from across the master’s career.

8.5″ x 11″
168 pages
Amadeus Press, an imprint of Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group


Victor Lederer is a writer on music and urban history. His books include Beethoven’s Chamber Music: A Listener’s Guide, Beethoven’s Piano Music: A Listener’s Guide, Bach’s Keyboard Music: A Listener’s Guide, and Chopin: A Listener’s Guide to the Master of the Piano, all for the Amadeus Press Unlocking the Masters series. He lives in New York.