Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Rock Gods Read? Who Knew?

Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2016 at 11:00 AM

The recently late, long great David Bowie was, apparently, an avid reader. As part of a 2013 exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, he included a list of his 100 favorite books. I won't print the complete list here. You can go to the LA Times article to see it.

It's a wide-ranging book list indicating eclectic tastes, not surprising for a man like Bowie who spent his life in constant reinvention. Here are a few, in no particular order, where his tastes and mine intersect:
"A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess
"Madame Bovary" by Gustave Flaubert
"The Iliad" by Homer
"As I Lay Dying" by William Faulkner
The Master and Margarita" by Mikhail Bulgakov
"Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov
"Black Boy" by Richard Wright
"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
"The Waste Land" by T.S. Elliot
McTeague" by Frank Norris
"A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole
"1984" by George Orwell
"White Noise" by Don DeLillo
"A People’s History of the United States" by Howard Zinn
"Lady Chatterly’s Lover" by D.H. Lawrence
"On the Road" by Jack Kerouac
The Hidden Persuaders" by Vance Packard
"The Fire Next Time" by James Baldwin
And I would be remiss if I left out some of his favorites not on my reading list, like:

"Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock" by Nik Cohn
"Mystery Train" by Greil Marcus
"Beano" (comic, ’50s)
"Raw" (comic, ’80s)
By the way, I kid Rock Gods when I imply they don't read. Many of them are avid readers, especially the ones who write their own songs and are likely to read the work of fellow writers. For instance, anyone know the name of the book that inspired Mick Jagger's Sympathy for the Devil? (According to Wikipedia, "Jagger stated that his influence for the song came from Baudelaire and from the Russian author Mikhail Bulgakov's novel The Master and Margarita. The book was given to him by Marianne Faithfull"). Leonard Cohen, who probably doesn't qualify as a Rock God but is hugely popular and influential, was a highly regarded published poet before he broke into song, wrote a semi-pornographic novel, Beautiful Losers, which was compared favorably to James Joyce's work (I think that's a bit of an overstatement, though the book is pretty amazing), continued to publish extensively during his long career, and may have something in the works now for all I know, at the age of 81. I imagine he's read a few books during that time, along with Bowie, Jagger and lots of others in the pop music world.

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