Saturday, August 22, 2015

David Byrne: come borrow a book from my Meltdown library

David Byrne
David Byrne: come borrow a book from my Meltdown library
The Talking Heads frontman and 2015 Meltdown curator has shipped 250 of his own music books from New York - margin notes and all - for festival-goers to read
The Guardian: 7.17.2015 by David Byrne

The Southbank Centre, where I will be curating the Meltdown festival next month, is more than the three main concert venues. There are lounges, event rooms, restaurants, a ballroom area and a library. And not just any library. The Poetry Library, opened by TS Eliot in 1953, is the largest public collection of modern poetry in the world. Now, to be honest, though I’ve read some Eliot, poetry is not a big part of my own reading. I am one of those who feels that poetry and song lyrics are very different beasts, and I find a lot (not all) of poetry hard to understand. Although poetry may have begun as an oral form it now lives mostly on the page, which is very different from song lyrics, which, to my ears, live and die by how they sound as much as by what they say. The melodic shape that accompanies a phrase imparts meaning, as does the tone of the voice. The exact same clump of words can be joyous, ironic or angry depending on the sonic context. I’m all about context imparting and determining meaning.

But I love a library. The idea of reading books for free didn’t kill the publishing business, on the contrary, it created nations of literate and passionate readers. Shared interests and the impulse to create. One might try to find an analogue in the music business, but this isn’t the place for that ...

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.  READ MORE !

No comments: