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” —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” —Irish Times
“Great writing about great records. What more could you possibly want?” —Paul Morley
“[Tom Gatti's] insightful introduction to this subsequent collection of essays takes us on a brisk walk through the history of recorded music formats in the 20th and early 21st centuries, from the gramophone to streaming, then rewinds back to the vinyl LP.” —360degreesound.com
“Music lovers will want to put this on repeat.” —Publishers Weekly