Heather R. Johnson | Books

If These Halls Could Talk:

A Historical Tour Through San Francisco Recording Studios

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If These Halls Could Talk: A Historical Tour Through San Francisco Recording Studios takes an in-depth look at San Francisco’s colorful and diverse music and music recording history, covering both the recordings and recording studios that housed the jazz and blues of the ’50s and psychedelic rock of the ’60s, to the rock and funk of the ’70s, punk and new wave of the ’80s, and the alternative rock, R&B and hip-hop of the ’90s through today.

Leading Bay Area artists, producers, engineers, and studio owners take readers on a guided tour through some of San Francisco’s top recording studios, venturing behind the scenes of popular music’s hottest albums. Readers will learn about the recording techniques, the magic, and the often unusual experiences that contributed to a wide range of recordings, including works by Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Santana, the Pointer Sisters, Herbie Hancock, Journey, Huey Lewis and the News, Chris Isaak, Faith No More, Green Day, and many more.

In addition, If These Halls Could Talk chronicles the history of the studios themselves. The book discusses the arrival, growth, and departure of studios in and around San Francisco, the myriad advancements in technology through the years and how it affected the industry, and how the San Francisco Bay Area’s recording facilities have endured through economic ups and downs, increased competition, decreased demand, and the ever-changing, unpredictable nature of the music industry.

What People are Saying…

“Ms. Johnson has done an admirable job of illuminating the struggles and triumphs of the many studio facilities, their founders, and the engineers who have contributed so much to this rich musical fabric. Illustrated with dozens of photographs, Johnson presents an entertaining, educational, and historic tribute to the studios and the people who shaped them. Although the San Francisco recording scene was never as big as New York or Los Angeles, this book provides an insight and historical perspective that validates and preserves their history. Hopefully, she will continue to write similar histories for other recording scenes. Chicago, Nashville, Detroit, and of course New York and L.A. all seem like fertile ground for such an endeavor. A well written, highly recommended, and thoroughly enjoyable book for anyone interested in recording and the creative process of music-making in general.” – Dan Alexander, Dan Alexander Audio

“More than just another review of music trends and evolving styles, [If These Halls Could Talk] focuses on the studios themselves and their roles in fostering such styles, creating a multifaceted survey of the San Francisco music scene as a whole.” – Midwest Book Review

Born in a Small Town: The John Mellencamp Story

Born In a Small Town: The John Mellencamp Story tells of the extreme highs, devastating lows and crucial blows that helped cement Mellencamp as an integral figure in the rock music landscape forever. Author Heather Johnson traces Johnny Cougar’s roots as a brash, no-nonsense rocker to his activist involvement in Farm Aid with Neil Young and Willie Nelson. Farm Aid would eventually echo John’s true sentiments of the country he so loved, for his voice helped to yield a social consciousness in pop music that would resonate throughout the world. His voice would become a mouthpiece for a people that had none; he would use his gift to enable people to maintain a lifestyle that is so vital to the United States­­; our sacred farm culture.

John Mellencamp’s voice is a simple truth, a truth that is eloquently embedded in the soul of the American poet. Born In a Small Town chronicles the life and times of a key figure in the rock pantheon, and indeed a legend of the American rock movement as a whole. The book also contains a set of rarely seen photographs and a complete discography that will inform and entertain the most ardent of Mellencamp fans. Most importantly, Johnson digs deep into the music; gathering interviews from band mates, producers and relevant quotes from Mellencamp himself.

The appeal of Mellencamp’s music lies in the powerhouse musicianship, well-crafted songs and a passion for the heartland of America that yields much of his most popular work. Quite simply, Mellencamp’s music is a reflection and representation of the best of American music.

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