David Byrne reveals 224 books about music found in his own personal library
David Byrne, the musician, record producer, artist and actor best known for being the enigmatic frontman of American new wave band Talking Heads, has allowed people a glimpse inside his own personal library.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was invited to curate Meltdown festival at London’s Southbank Centre a couple of years ago and, being David Byrne, he did things a little differently. “I am beyond excited at how much of this has fallen into place,” he said at the time of the event. “It’s quite eclectic and I hope there are some new discoveries for everyone—including me—in this edition of the festival.”
While he did include the likes of Anna Calvi, Young Marble Giants, Benjamin Clementine, Estrella Morente, Sunn O))), Atomic Bomb! The Music of William Onyeabor and more as part of his line-up, Byrne did something that has been done in the 22 years of the festival’s history…created a library by using his own books.
Now residing in New York, Byrne’s mission became somewhat of a logistical nightmare when he was tasked with shipping over a wide-ranging 250 books from his own personal library and offered attendees the opportunity to borrow selected reading material from his collection. Of those 250 books, 224 were specifically about music. In his essay written for The Guardian,Byrne said: “I love a library,” somewhat emphatically. “The idea of reading books for free,” he added.
Detailing further, Byrne explained his love for books and how they became a major factor in his life: “I grew up in suburban Baltimore and the suburbs were not a particularly cosmopolitan place. We were desperate to know what was going on in the cool places, and, given some suggestions and direction, the library was one place where that wider exciting world became available.
“In my little town, the library also had vinyl that one could check out and I discovered avant-garde composers such as Xenakis and Messiaen, folk music from various parts of the world and even some pop records that weren’t getting much radio play in Baltimore. It was truly a formative place.”
224 books about music in David Byrne’s Library:
1. 40 Watts from Nowhere: A Journey into Pirate Radio by Sue Carpenter 2. A divina comedia dos Mutantes by Carlos Calado 3. A Photographic Record: 1969–1980 by Mick Rock 4. A Thelonious Monk: Study Album by Lionel Grigson 5. A Whole Room for Music: A Short Guide to the Balfour Building Music Makers’ Gallery by Helene La Rue 6. Acoustic Territories: Sound Culture and Everyday Life by Brandon Labelle 7. Acoustics for Radio and Television Studios by Christopher Gilford 8. Africa Dances by Geoffrey Gorer 9. African Music: A People’s Art by Francis Bebey 10. African Rhythm and African Sensibility by John Miller Chernoff 11. Afro-American Folk Songs by H.E. Krehbiel 12. AfroPop! An Illustrated Guide to Contemporary African Music by Sean Barlow & Banning Eyre 13. All You Need to Know About the Music Business by Donald S. Passman 14. Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafè by Miguel Algarin & Bob Holman 15. An Illustrated Treasury of Songs by National Gallery of Art 16. And They All Sang: Adventures of an Eclectic Disc Jockey by Studs Terkel 17. Arranged Marriage by Wallace Berman & Robert Watts 18. Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music by Cristoph Cox & Daniel Warner 19. Austin City Limits: 35 Years in Photographs by Scott Newton & Terry Lickona 20. Bachata: A Social History of a Dominican Popular Music by Deborah Pacini Hernandez 21. Bandalism: The Rock Group Survival Guide by Julian Ridgway 22. Beats of the Heart: Popular Music of the World by Jeremy Marre & Hannah Charlton 23. Best Music Writing 2001 by Nick Hornby & Ben Schafer 24. Best Music Writing 2002 by Jonathan Lethem & Paul Bresnick 25. Best Music Writing 2003 by Matt Groening & Paul Bresnick 26. Best Music Writing 2006 by Mary Gaitskill & Daphne Carr 27. Best Music Writing 2007 by Robert Christgau & Daphne Carr 28. Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne 29. Black Music of Two Worlds by John Storm Roberts 30. Black Rhythms of Peru: Reviving African Musical Heritage in the Black Pacific by Heidi Carolyn Feidman 31. Blues Guitar: The Men Who Made the Music by Jas Obrecht 32. Bossa Nova: The Story of the Brazilian Music that Seduced the World by Ruy Castro 33. Botsford Collection of Folk Songs Volume 1 by Florence Hudson Botsford 34. Botsford Collection of Folk Songs Volume 2 by Florence Hudson Botsford 35. Bound for Glory by Woody Guthrie 36. Bourbon Street Black: The New Orleans Black Jazzman by Jack V Buerkle & Danny Barker 37. Brazilian Popular Music and Citizenship by Idelber Avelar & Christopher Dunn 38. Brutality Garden: Tropicalla and the Emergence of a Brazilian Counterculture by Christopher Dunn 39. Bug Music: How Insects Gave Us Rhythm and Noise by David Rothenberg 40. But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz by Geoff Dyer 41. Cancioneiro Vinicius De Moraes by Orfeu 42. Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music by Mark Katz 43. Catch a Fire: The Life of Bob Marley by Timothy White 44. Chambers by Alvin Lucier & Douglas Simon 45. Chinaberry Sidewalks: A Memoir by Rodney Crowell 46. Chris Stein/Negative: Me, Blondie and the Advent of Punk by Deborah Harry, Glenn O’Brien & Shepard Fairey 47. Clandestino: In Search of Manu Chao by Peter Culshaw 48. Clothes Music Boys by Viv Albertine 49. Cocinando! Fifty Years of Latin Cover Art by Pablo Yglesias 50. Conjunto by John Dyer 51. Conversations with Glenn Gould by Jonathan Cott 52. Conversing with Cage by Richard Kostelanetz 53. Copyrights & Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How it Threatens Creativity by Siva Vaidhyanathan 54. Dancing in Your Head: Jazz, Blues, Rock and Beyond by Gene Santoro 55. Desert Plants: Conversations with Twenty-Three American Musicians by Walter Zimmerman 56. Diccionario de Jazz Latino by Nat Chediak 57. Diccionario del Rock Latino by Nat Chediak 58. Driving Through Cuba: Rare Encounters in the Land of Sugar Cane and Revolution by Carlo Gebler 59. Drumming at the Edge of Magic: A Journey into the Spirit of Percussion by Mickey Hart & Jay Stevens 60. Essays on Music by Theodor W. Adorno 61. Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond by Michael Nyman 62. Fair Use: The Story of the Letter U and the Numeral 2 by Negativland 63. Fela Fela: This Bitch of a Life by Carlos Moore 64. Fetish & Fame: The 1997 MTV Video Music Awards by David Felton 65. Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954–1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes by Stephen Sondheim 66. Folk and Traditional Music of the Western Continents by Bruno Nettl 67. Folk Song Style and Culture by Alan Lomax 68. Folk: The Essential Album Guide by Neal Walers & Brian Mansfield 69. Formalized Music: Thought and Mathematics in Composition by Iannis Xenakis 70. Fotografie in Musica by Guido Harari 71. Genesis of a Music by Harry Partch 72. Give my Regards to Eighth Street: Collected Writings of Morton Feldman by B.H. Friedman 73. Gravikords, Whirlies, & Pyrophones: Experimental Musical Instruments by Bart Hopkin 74. Guia Esencial De La Salsa by Jose Manuel Gomez 75. Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning by Gary Marcus 77. Hearing Cultures: Essays on Sound, Listening, and Modernity by Veit Erlmann 78. Here Come the Regulars: How to Run a Record Label on a Shoestring Budget by Ian Anderson 79. He Stopped Loving Her Today: George Jones, Billy Sherrill and the Pretty-Much Totally True Story of the Making of the Greatest Country Record of All Time by Jack Isenhour 80. Hip Hop: The Illustrated History of Break Dancing, Rap Music and Graffiti by Steven Hager 81. Hit Men by Frederic Dannen 82. Hitsville: The 100 Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazines 1954–1968 by Alan Betrock 83. Homo Aestheticus: Where Art Comes From and Why by Ellen Dissanayake 84. Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture by Alice Echols 85. How Music Works: The Science and Psychology of Beautiful Sounds, from Beethoven to the Beatles and Beyond by John Powell 86. Hungry for Heaven: Rock and Roll and the Search for Redemption by Steve Turner 87. I Have Seen the End of the World and it Looks Like This by Bob Schneider 88. I’ll Take You There Mavis Staples: The Staple Songers, and the March Up Freedom’s Highway by Greg Kot 89. In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise by George Prochnik 90. Indian Music by B. Chaitanya Deva 91. It Ain’t Easy: Long John Baldry and the Birth of the British Blues by Paul Myers 92. Japanese Music and Musical Instruments by William P. Malm 93. Javanese Gamelan by Jennifer Lindsay 94. Jazz by William Claxton 95. Knitting Music by Michael Dorf 96. La Traviata: In Full Score by Giuseppe Verdi 97. Laurie Anderson by John Howell 98. Leon Geico: Cronica de un Sueno by Oscar Finkelstein 99. Lexicon of Musical Invective by Nicolas Slonimsky 101. Light Strings: Impressions of the Guitar by Ralph Gibson & Andy Summers 102. Listen Again: A Momentary History of Pop Music by Eric Weisbard 103. Listening Through the Noise: the Aesthetics of Experimental Electronic Music by Joanna Demers 104. Listen to This by Alex Ross 105. Look, I Made a Hat: Collected Lyrics (1981–2011) with Attendant Comments, Amplifications, Dogmas, Harangues, Digressions, Anecdotes and Miscellany by Stephen Sondheim 106. Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Music Made New in New York City in the ’70s by Will Hermes 107. Love in Vain: The Life and Legend of Robert Johnson by Allen Greenberg 108. Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture by Tim Lawrence 109. Low by Hugo Wilcken 110. Lucking Out: My Life Getting Down and Semi-dirty in Seventies New York by James Wolcott 111. Macumba: The Teachings of Maria-Jose, Mother of the Gods by Serge Bramly 112. Mango Mambo by Adal 113. Masters of Contemporary Brazilian Song: MPB 1965–1985 by Charles Perrone 114. Max’s Kansas City: Art, Glamour, Rock and Roll by Steven Kasher 115. Me, the Mob, and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James and the Shondells by Tommy James 116. Miles: The Autobiography by Miles Davis with Quincy Troupe 117. Mingering Mike: The Amazing Career of an imaginary Soul Superstar by Dori Hadar 118. Mister Jelly Roll: The Fortunes of Jelly Roll Morton, New Orleans Creole and “Inventor of Jazz” by Alan Lomax 119. Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture by Thurston Moore 120. Music by Paul Bowles 121. Music and Communication by Terence McLaughlin 122. Music and Globalization: Critical Encounters by Bob W. White 123. Music and the Brain: Studies in the Neurology of Music by MacDonald Critchley & R. A. Henson 124. Music and the Mind by Anthony Storr 125. Music and Trance: A Theory of the Relations between Music and Possession by Gilbert Rouget 126. Music Cultures of the Pacific, The Near East, and Asia by William P. Malm 128. Music in Cuba by Alejo Carpentier 129. Music, Language and the Brain by Aniruddh D. Patel 130. Musica Cubana Del Areyto a la Nueva Trova by Dr. Cristobal Diaz Ayala 131. Musical Instruments of the World: An Illustrated Encyclopedia with More than 4,000 Original Drawings by Ruth Midgely 132. Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks 133. My Music by Susan D Crafts, Daniel Cavicchi & Charles Keil 134. New York Noise: Art and Music from the New York Underground 1978-88 by Stuart Baker 135. Noise: A Human History of Sound & Listening by David Hendy 136. Noise: The Political Economy of Music by Jacques Attali 137. Notations by John Cage 138. Ocean of Sound: Aether Talk, Ambient Sound and Imaginary Worlds by David Toop 139. On Sonic Art by Trevor Wishart 140. Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving the Opera by Fred Plotkin 141. Patronizing The Arts by Marjorie Garber 142. Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music by Greg Milner 143. Pet Shop Boys: Literally by Chris Heath 144. Popular Musics of the Non-Western World: An Introductory Survey by Peter Manuel 145. The Power of Music: Pioneering Discoveries in the Science of Song by Elena Mannes 146. Presenting Celia Cruz by Alexis Rodriguez-Duarte 147. Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung by Lester Bangs 148. Queens of Havana: The Amazing Adventures of the Legendary Anacaona, Cuba’s First All-Girl Dance Band by Alicia Castro 149. Recordando a Tito Puente: El Rey del Timbal by Steven Loza 150. Reflections on Macedonian Music: Past and Future by Dimitrije Buzarovski 151. Remembering the Future by Luciano Berio 152. Repeated Takes: A Short History of Recording Music and Its Effect on Music by Michael Chanan 153. Revolution in the Head: The Beatles Records and the Sixties by Ian Macdonald 154. Rhythm & Blues in New Orleans by John Broven 155. Rock ‘n’ Roll is Here to Pay: The History of Politics in the Music Industry by Steve Shapple & Reebee Garofalo 156. Rock Archives by Michael Ochs 157. Rock Images: 1970–1990 by Claude Gassian 158. Rock Lives: Profiles and Interviews by Timothy White 159. Salsa Guidebook for Piano & Ensemble by Rebeca Mauleon 160. Salsa: The Rhythm of Latin Music by Gerard Sheller 161. Salsiology: Afro-Cuban Music and the Evolution of Salsa in New York City by Vernon W. Boggs 162. Samba by Alma Guillermoprieto 163. Sonic Transports: New Frontiers in Our Music by Cole Gagne 164. Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear by Steve Goodman 165. Souled American: How Black Music Transformed White Culture by Kevin Phinney 166. Sounding New Media: Immersion and Embodiment in the Arts and Culture by Frances Dyson 167. Soundings by Neuberger Museum 168. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous by John Broven 169. Spaces Speak, Are You Listening: Experiencing Aural Architecture by Barry Blesser & Linda-Ruth Salter 170. Spirit Rising: My Life, My Music by Angelique Kidjo 171. Starmaking Machinery: The Odyssey of an Album by Geoffrey Stokes 172. Stockhausen: Conversations with the Composer by Jonathan Cott 173. Stolen Moments: Conversations with Contemporary Musicians by Tom Schnabel 174. Stomping the Blues by Albert Murray 175. Tango: The Art History of Love by Robert Farris Thompson 176. Text-Sound Texts by Richard Kostelanetz 177. The ABCs of Rock by Melissa Duke Mooney 178. The Agony of Modern Music by Henry Pleasants 179. The Anthropology of Music by Alan P. Merriam 180. The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer 181. The Beatles: Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn 182. The Book of Drugs: A Memoir by Mike Dougherty 183. The Brazilian Sounds: Samba, Bossa Nova, and the Popular Music of Brazil by Chris McGowan & Ricardo Pessanha 184. The Faber Book of Pop by Hanif Kureishi & Jon Savage 185. The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World’s Wild Places by Bernie Krause 186. The Human Voice by Jean Cocteau 187. The Kachamba Brothers’ Band: A Study of Neo-Traditional Music in Malawi by Gerhard Kubik 188. The Last Holiday: A Memoir by Gil Scott-Heron 189. The Latin Tinge: The Impact of Latin American Music on the United States by John Storm Roberts 190. The Life and Times of Little Richard: The Quasar of Rock by Charles White 191. The Merge Records Companion: A Visual Discography of the First Twenty Years by Merge Records 192. The Music Instinct by Philip Ball 193. The Music of Brazil by David P. Appleby 194. The Mystery of Samba: Popular Music and the National Identity in Brazil by Hermano Vianna 195. The New Woman Poems: A Tribute to Mercedes Sosa by Nestor Rodriguez Lacoren 196. The Performer Prepares by Robert Caldwell 197. The Rational and Social Foundations of Music by Max Weber 198. The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl by Trevor Schoonmake 199. The Recording Angel: Music, Records and Culture from Aristotle to Zappa by Evan Eisenberg 200. The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century by Alex Ross 201. The Rolling Stone Interviews: The 1980s by Various 202. The Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy and the American Voice by Greil Marcus 203. The Sound Book: The Science of the Sonic Wonders of the World by Trevor Cox 204. The Sun and the Drum: African Roots in Jamaican Folk Tradition by Leonard Barrett 205. The Thinking Ear by R. Murray Schafer 206. The Traditional Music of Japan by Kishibe Shigeo 207. The Triumph of Music: The Rise of Composers, Musicians and Their Art by Tim Blanning 208. The Veil of Silence by Djura 209. The Wilco Book by Dan Nadel 210. This Business of Music: The Definitive Guide to the Music Industry by M. William Krasilovsky & Sidney Shemel 211. This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of Human Obsession by Daniel J. Levitin 212. Through Music to Self by Peter Michael Hamel 213. West African Rhythms for Drumset by Royal Hartigan 214. What Good are the Arts? by John Carey 215. White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960’s by Joe Boyd 216. Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History 1955–Present by Gail Buckland 218. Whose Music? A Sociology of Musical Languages by John Shepard, Phil Virden, Graham Vulliamy, Trevor Wishart 219. Why is This Country Dancing: A One-Man Samba to the Beat of Brazil by John Krich 220. Woody Guthrie: A Life by Joe Klein 221. The Rough Guide to World Music: Latin and North America, Caribbean, India, Asia, and Pacific: An A-Z of the Music, Musicians and Discs by Simon Broughton & Mark Ellingham 222. The Rough Guide to World Music: Salsa to Soukous, Cajun to Calypso by Simon Broughton, Mark Ellingham, David Muddyman & Richard Trillo 223. World: The Essential Album Guide by Adam McGovern 224. Yakety Yak: The Midnight Confessions and Revelations of Thirty-Seven Rock Stars and Legends by Scott Cohen