What books are currently on your night stand?
  • The History Of Rock & Roll volume one 1920 – 1963 by Ed Ward
  • Paris Stories by Elliot Murphy
  • The Plot To Hack America by Malcolm Nance
Who is your favorite novelist of all time?
A toss up between Ernest Hemingway and Mark Twain.
Your favorite novelist writing today?
Paul Beatty, The Sellout. I heard an interview with him on the radio and went out and bought his book. It’s humor but very, very dark and full of profanity.
What kind of reader were you as a child?
As a child I read things like Winnie The Pooh and The Wind In The Willows but I also read children’s books about Thomas Jefferson, Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. Later, I enjoyed war stories like Guadalcanal Diary and The Red Badge Of Courage.
What book, if any, most influenced your decision to become a musician or contributed to your artistic development?
There is a novel by Somerset Maugham called The Moon and Sixpence that had an enormous effect on me. The story is very loosely based on the life of the artist Paul Gauguin. I read the book when I was a sophomore in high school and it inspired me to think that I, too, could lead an artistic life.
Who are your favorite musician-writers? Your favorite memoir by a musician?
Last spring when I was in New Orleans, I met a very interesting guy named Tom Sancton. Tom was born and raised in New Orleans, plays clarinet and at a very young age started taking lessons and sitting in with some of the great players from Preservation Hall. He went on to study at Harvard, was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford and eventually became the Time Magazine Bureau Chief in Paris. His memoir called Song For My Fathers ( a New Orleans Story in Black and White ) is a fascinating read.
Are there any books about the NY music scene in the 70's that you think captured the scene the best?
My favorite by far is by Will Hermes and it’s called Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever. It’s not just about Punk. It’s about all kinds of great music and it takes its title from a Talking Heads song.
What are the best books about music you’ve read?
Well, I’ve just named a few but Peter Guralnick’s Sweet Soul Music and Last Train To Memphis and hard to beat. I’m also very fond of Crosstown Traffic by Charles Shaar Murray.
Who would you want to write your biography?
Seriously? David McCullough
If you could meet any writer dead or alive, who would it be?
I think that would be Mark Twain. He always had something interesting to say and he could be hilarious.
If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?
The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin
If you had to name one book that made you what you are today, what would it be?
Huckleberry Finn
You’re hosting a literary gathering with three writers. Who are invited?
Tom Wolfe, Zadie Smith and James Wolcott
How do you organize your books?
On shelves and in piles. 😉
What’s your next read?
I’m looking forward to reading a book by an old friend that I recently bought. Modern Romances, Stories by Judy Lopatin
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