Muse Sick by Ian Brennan

Grammy-winning music producer, Ian Brennan's seventh book, Muse-Sick: a music manifesto in fifty-nine notes, acts as a primer on how mass production and commercialization have corrupted the arts. Broken down into a series of core points and actions plans, Muse-Sick is a concise and affordable pocket primer follow-up to Brennan's two previous music missives, How Music Dies (or Lives): Field Recording and the Battle for Democracy in the Arts and Silenced by Sound: The Music Meritocracy Myth.

Popular culture has woven itself into the social fabric of our lives, penetrating people's homes and haunting their psyche through images and earworm hooks. Justice, at most levels, is something that the average citizen might have little influence upon leaving us feeling helpless and complacent. But pop music is a neglected arena where some change can concretely occur—by exercising active and thoughtful choices to reject the low-hanging, omnipresent commercialized and pre-packaged fruit, we begin to re-balance the world, one engaged listener at a time.

In fifty-nine concise and clear points, Brennan reveals how corporate media has constricted local culture and individual creativity, leading to a lack of diversity within "diversity." Muse-Sick's narrative portions are driven and made corporeal via the author's ongoing field-recording chronicles with widely disparate groups, such as the Sheltered Workshop Singers. Marilena Umuhoza Delli's striking photographs accompany and bring to life each tale.

As John Waters says: "I didn't think it was possible to write a shocking book about music anymore. But Brennan has."



  • "Ian Brennan's Muse-Sick is a passionate, thought-provoking chronicle of traveling beyond the mainstream to listen to unheard music created by the unsung."

    – Professor Maureen Mahon(NYU), author of Right to Rock: The Black Rock Coalition and the Cultural Politics of Race and Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll
  • "We can never hear enough of the fresh, conscientious perspective of Ian Brennan. His words gives voice to people who have been silenced."

    – Booker T. Jones, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Lifetime Achievement award Grammy-winner
  • "By all means keep this book by your bedside...."

    – Songlines




With enough time, even faith becomes a dog name.

Somebody got to her, long ago I could see it floating, untethered deep in her eyes, taunting strangers like a "kick me" sign.

I still bear Sammy Hagar scars, misled musically from the start.

Like so many things, what we hoped would heal us only made us sicker. Singing along like whispering a prayer, we tried to make our soul match the songs.

My early life was lit by my mother's faltering searchlight heart. On a Christmas Day going home from the psychiatric ward, she stood, hesitating on our front porch. Unable to cross even that shallow threshold, she was obscured by more than the closed screen door.

This was all back when the city was still small. Before the skyline hid the skyline.

Though the bruise on her bicep was purple, it did not appear regal but dethroned. And for years it never seemed to fade. That history has only now begun to settle in me.

Decades later, turning cancer gray, our father's was an execution staid. We counted time in hours instead of days and, at sunrise, watched our phones.

Heading home at the train station, a baby boomer bore an oversized peace sign on her chest like a shield. It came as no surprise when she screamed "Fuck you!" in my face over a taxi turn.

My daughter's first word was not a word at all but a phrase.