Pamela Stern, January 31, 2013 (view all comments by Pamela Stern)
David Byrne makes connections between genres and movement through his life. He pays homage to the diverse world of music he lives within and connects the music to its historical context. Truly interesting.
Kevin Wildermuth, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by Kevin Wildermuth)
David Byrne has once again proven that he is one of the best thinkers operating in the arts today. In The Bicycle Diaries he provides great insights into urban planning and other cultures. Here he explains nearly everything there is to know about music in a clear and non-romanticized way. You get financial figures for recent music projects that he's done, you get some history and analysis of the old CBGB scene in New York from whence Talking Heads sprang, you get discussion of recording techniques and how they affect the art of music, and much more. This book avoids the hype and the provocative storytelling of many recent memoirs while offering rarely revealed facts about how the music business works and why we like music itself so much. But he doesn't fail to give us some personal anecdotes along the way. As a music fan I was nodding my head throughout the book, and if I were a musician I'd have appreciated it even more. If you're looking for entertainment, read some ego maniac's memoir, but if you want food for thought about a topic that never seems to get that treatment check out How Music Works.
Bethany Dotson, October 30, 2012 (view all comments by Bethany Dotson)
Disclaimer: I am a classically trained musician that likes country music, acoustic, jazz, and pop. I was born in the late '80s and only have a vague idea of who the Talking Heads were/are; in fact, I didn't know by looking at the name "David Byrne" that the author was a famous experimental musician.
On one hand, I am completely not the intended audience for this book. I have exactly zero familiarity with the Talking Heads, I'm not into the kind of music that he performs, and I don't really like the recording industry culture or have any interest in it.
That being said, David Byrne has an undeniably unique voice. He tells the story of the growth of technology in the music industry and how it has affected his music personally in a captivating, intimate way that shows you (or tells you, however honest it may be) that Bryne really knows firsthand what he's talking about. He talks about Madonna ("Madge") as if she's a close friend (for all I know, she is), and refers to how different famous artists have their contracts negotiated. He discusses the industry from an insider's perspective; in my mind, the title should have been "How the Music Industry Works," rather than simply music. But it's an interesting story, an interesting industry, and I have to say that I had several "Oh, so that's why that's the way it is" moments throughout.
He's got a great voice--more chatting with his reader than writing authoritatively--and speaks with authority on the changes in the industry, musical experimentation, and life as a big star. What this is not? A book on how music --music itself-- works, either physically or emotionally on its audience.
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by Kirkus (Starred Review),
"From the former Talking Heads frontman, a supremely intelligent, superbly written dissection of music as an art form and way of life...Byrne touches on all kinds of music from all ages and every part of the world....Highly recommended — anyone at all interested in music will learn a lot from this book."
by Publishers Weekly (Starred Review),
"In this fascinating meditation, Talking Heads frontman Byrne (Bicycle Diaries) explores how social and practical context, more than individual authorship, shaped music making in history and his own career...his chapters on Heads' recording sessions are some of the most insightful accounts of musical creativity yet penned. The result is a surprising challenge to the romantic cliché of musical genius....Byrne's erudite and entertaining prose reveals him to be a true musical intellectual, with serious and revealing things to say about his art."
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