For fans of The Smiths, Morrissey is a lyrical and vocal legend. Since the band broke up in 1987, Morrissey has gone on to have a distinguished and acclaimed solo career that has recently ventured into literary terrain with his first work of fiction. Though fans were excited about the prospect of a novel from one of their favorite musicians, reviews of the book, List of The Lost, have been overwhelmingly unfavorable.
This got us thinking about other musicians who have written novels. Are they all bad? We don’t think so! Check out our list of eight musicians turned novelists and judge for yourself.
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Wildwood, the 541 page children’s fantasy novel, first in a trilogy, was written by the lead singer of the Decemberists. Malloy’s wife, Carson Ellis, drew the illustrations. Together the three books in the series—Wildwood, Under Wildwood, and Wildwood Imperium—total over 1500 pages.
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Though best known for his music, like the island escapist hit “Margaritaville,” Buffett is also a very accomplished writer. He has written two New York Times Bestselling novels—Tales from Margaritaville and Where is Joe Merchant?, as well as a NYT Bestselling work of nonfiction—A Pirate Looks at Fifty. An interesting fact: he’s one of only eight authors to reach number one on both of those lists. Among the others to do so are Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Dr. Seuss. How’s that for distinguished company?
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The emotionally intense post-punk Australian rocker is something of a renaissance man. He’s written poems, screenplays, composed music for movies, and has written two novels—And the Ass Saw the Angel and, nearly a decade later, The Death of Bunny Monroe.
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In 2006, Paste Magazine, called Ritter one of the “100 Greatest Living Songwriters.” Aside from his lyrical accomplishments, he released a well-reviewed novel called Bright’s Passage in 2012.
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Rock, country, folk singer/songwriter Steve Earle has released over fifteen albums and won three Grammy awards. On top of all of that, he also found time to write the novel I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive, which was named after a Hank Williams song and tells the story of a doctor haunted by the ghost of Williams.
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Canadian born singer/songwriter Sylvia Tyson is not only in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, but in 2011 she wrote the 420-page novel, Joyner’s Dream, which gives a sweeping account of a family all the way from the 1780’s to present.
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You may know John Wesley Harding as a folk/pop singer/songwriter, who opened for Bruce Springsteen in 1995. But under his legal name, Wesley Stace, Harding has written four novels—Misfortune, By George, Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer, and Wonderkid.
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No one bridges the gap between successful musician and successful novelist better than Leonard Cohen. Though perhaps best known for his songs and poems, Cohen’s novels are very well praised. His experimental novels, like Beautiful Losers and The Favorite Game, have garnered comparisons to James Joyce, which is perhaps the highest praise an experimentalist can achieve. Though one often approaches crossover artists with reserve, Cohen is someone who has done it with great success.
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