I love holiday music—ALL holiday music, from the schmaltzy versions of 50s and 60s pop artists singing carols to the revered orchestral renderings of The Messiah. When it comes to music around the holidays, the more “sing we joyous all together, heedless of the wind and weather,” the better.

But at heart, the music that’s imprinted into my DNA, the music that’s formed the soundtrack of my life, is rock ‘n’ roll. Fortunately, there are three new, beautiful coffee table books out this season that will jingle the bells of anyone who loves their music with a heavy backbeat. With any luck, the Big Guy in Red will take a long look at these books when he’s deciding whether I’ve been naughty or nice. (Hint to Santa: I’ve met all of my deadlines, and I’ve always been courteous and professional when arguing with my editor over whether or not I use too many commas.)

The Haight: Love, Rock, and Revolution, by Joel Selvin and Jim Marshall

Haight Book Cover

Exactly where was the “Ground Zero” of rock music in the 1960s? Cleveland, Ohio? Liverpool, England? Woodstock, New York? A good argument could be made for the Haight-Ashbury District in San Francisco, California, the epicenter of the hippie counterculture movement. In this book, that unforgettable moment of cultural history is depicted by legendary photographer Jim Marshall and the images he captured during that incredible time. The book, which includes photos of musical icons including Janice Joplin, The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan and Jefferson Airplane, as well as text from best-selling music journalist Joel Selvin, is the Summer of Love captured between two covers.


Big Shots: Rock Legends and Hollywood Icons: The Photography of Guy Webster, by Harvey Kubernik, Kenneth Kubernik, and Guy Webster

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While San Francisco was home to the hippie movement, its neighbor to the south, Los Angeles, was the site of the head-on collision of the youth-fueled rock culture and the traditional entertainment industry. Bearing witness to it all was photographer and L.A. native Guy Webster, who, armed with his Nikon camera, helped define the visual nuances of the era. Beginning with his controversial cover shot of The Mamas and the Papas first album, Webster would go on to photograph musicians and actors (including Simon and Garfunkel, Jack Nicholson, Jane Fonda, Jim Morrison and Raquel Welch) whose work would go on to indelibly shape the decade. Big Shots is a fascinating overview of one of rock photography’s early innovators, whose career spanned more than 40 years.


John Lennon: The Collected Artwork, by Scott Gutterman and John Lennon

John Lennon the collected Artwork cover

Before he was a Beatle, before he took up the guitar with which he would help change the world, John Lennon was an artist. From childhood and through his study at the Liverpool College of Art, Lennon drew, and later in life, he taught himself the difficult sumi-e style of Japanese ink drawing. Now, in this volume, which features a foreword by Yoko Ono, Lennon’s artwork is on display, from the childhood drawings of the Normans and Saxons to pieces in The Daily Howl (the satirical magazine he created for his school classmates) to the illustrations he made for his books In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works, published in the mid-60s. John Lennon: The Collected Artwork also features the simple, elegant drawings he devoted himself to later in life, as he settled into his role as father to Sean, the son from whom he’d be taken away far too soon. “John started as an artist first,” Ono writes in the book’s foreword. “He always brought fresh air to any media he was working on. He couldn’t help himself.”


Fetured Image: Big Shots: Rock Legends and Hollywood Icons: The Photography of Guy Webster The Rolling Stones On their Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass) photo shoot.