Nick Hornby may have us all beat.
The guy who wrote HIGH FIDELITY & the recent JULIET, NAKED (which I raved about) also has a thin collection of short essays about the songs that mean the most 2 him, called SONGBOOK (2003). It's good.
I haven't read the whole thing yet, have just dipped in2 sections w/ artist's names & song titles I recognize. But it's funny & punchy & the pieces don't wear out their welcome. (A few of them were published seprately in places like THE NEW YORKER.)
As Hornby points out, this is not music criticism. Like some current on-line music bloggers (Hello, Rastro!), many times Hornby just writes about the memories & feelings & emotions that R conjured up by a particular song -- not so much about how great he thinks a certain song is, tho there's some of that 2 -- like why he wants Van Morrison's "Caravan" played at his funeral, or why he thinks Ian Dury's "Reasons to be Cheerful" would make a great NEW national anthem 4 Great Britain.
Hornby's 31 essays cover artists from Led Zep 2 Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen 2 the J. Geils Band, Aimee Mann 2 Nelly Furtado, & a lotta spaces in Btween. He also bravely listens his way thru a fairly recent BILLBOARD Top 10 CD's list & survives 2 write about it.
Some of the people whose work he sorta looks at R names I don't know, so I'm gonna need more time w/ this. But judging by what I've read so far, I hava feeling I'll B Dvouring the whole thing. Hornby's essays R often very short, sometimes less than 3 large-type pgs, & his writing Cms 2 flow & involve U almost effortlessly, even if U don't care about the artist he's allegedly writing about.
I'd think NEbody who writes or reads rock-music blogs would eat this stuff up. Definitely worth checking out.
33-1/3rd's GREATEST HITS VOLUMES I & II also have some great writing in them. All the pieces R Xcerpts from the series of books about classic albums that the Continuum imprint has bn releasing since 2003. Some of the writing is brilliant, riveting: I read Gillian Gaar's writeup on the weirdness surrounding the recording of Nirvana's IN UTERO in 1 sitting.
Most of the Xcerpts work really well. They're revealing or funny or provide more insight in2 how a classic album came 2gether. I don't think U havta B a fan of NE of the artists 2 Njoy the writing -- I'm not that big a fan of Nirvana, the Velvet Underground, Jimi Hendrix, Joy Division, the Ramones, Phil Ochs, Elvis Costello, David Bowie or the Pixies, & still found the articles on their work intresting, Nlightening, involving, funny.... Some of the more personal memoirs based on the music R gonna take some time, but so far I'd say it'll B worth the trouble.
There's almost 600 pgs worth of essays in these 2 books, U're bound 2 find something U'll like. My only complaint so far is that a lot of the albums that have bn chosen R ... kinda obvious. Even when VOLUME II moves Dcidedly toward Indie Rock, the choices Rn't 2 shocking -- DAYDREAM NATION, MURMUR, IN UTERO, DOOLITTLE, etc. & the rest of the choices R at the very LEAST cult classics: PET SOUNDS, FOREVER CHANGES, WHO SELL OUT, HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED, COURT AND SPARK, EXILE ON MAIN STREET, LET IT BE, RAMONES 1st, LED ZEP IV -- ABBA GOLD, 4 Chrissakes.
I guess what I'm saying is that while a few of 33-1/3rd's choices might B considered adventurous, they R all albums I'd at least HEARD OF. There isn't a RED QUEEN TO GRYPHON THREE or EVER SENSE THE DAWN or CRAFTY HANDS or PAWN HEARTS or TAGO MAGO among them (so far).
I'm sure the good folks at Continuum want 2 sell at least a FEW of these books (there is 1 Captain Beefheart title in the series, TROUT MASK REPLICA, + Brian Eno's ANOTHER GREEN WORLD & Nick Drake's PINK MOON), & mayB it wouldn't B wise 2 issue a book about an album that millions of rock fans have never heard of. 4 marketing purposes, there's got 2 B some kinda core audience that would reach 4 these books based on title-recognition, or pretty soon U'll no longer have a book series. But still....