We know you’re always looking for new music. Instead of listening to your local public radio station to find out what the cool college kids are listening to (Hint: it’s probably Migos), let your favorite authors give you some recommendations. Here’s a round-up of some of the best authors’ best musicians. And, helpful as ever, I’ve compiled them all into a convenient Spotify playlist for your edification. Happy listening!
1. Stephen King – LCD Soundsystem
King is a huge music buff. He wrote a music column for Entertainment Weekly called “Must List” for years. In an interview about his music taste, King talked about LCD Soundsystem’s song “Yeah,” saying, “all I can say is if this is where disco went when it died, then it was very good and went to heaven.”
2. George Saunders – John Prine
Saunders loves music, and even played in a jazz fusion band in high school. Of John Prine’s “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore,” Saunders said, “My friend I used to listen to this over and over…There’s something growing up outside of Chicago, knowing that all this stuff was just a few miles away—[it] was very politicizing.”
3. Jennifer Egan – Kings of Convenience
Though she grew up obsessing over The Who (“I had a consuming crush on Roger Daltry!”), Egan’s taste has become thoroughly less rock-y. She likes this band called Kings of Convenience, about whom she said, “I’m also pretty crazy about the Kings of Convenience—a Norwegian band that’s been compared to Simon and Garfunkel.” I love them both, but Simon and Garfunkel is a far cry from The Who.
4. David Sedaris – Abbey Lincoln
I had never heard of Abbey Lincoln before, but Sedaris has nice things to say about her. In fact, he’s pretty much in love with her. Sedaris says, “Just from the very first song that I heard I was crazy about her. You know people say that all the time—”I have to be your biggest fan.” But I have to be her biggest fan. I really have to.”
5. David Foster Wallace – R.E.M.
The Infinite Jest author definitely liked music, but his taste is maybe not as expansive as you’d think. According to biographer David Lipsky in his book Travels With David Foster Wallace, “[Wallace’s] music tastes were pretty eclectic. He loved the R.E.M. song ‘Strange Currencies’ (‘I mean, I will find one or two songs — I listened to ‘Strange Currencies’ over and over again all summer’).” That said, Wallace also claimed to “have the musical tastes of a thirteen year old girl.” It’s 2018, though, and I’m not sure how many thirteen-year-olds are listening to R.E.M. Besides “Everybody Hurts.” Which is a great song.
6. Haruki Murakami – The Beach Boys
Murakami is essentially a human jukebox. He loves The Beatles, Radiohead and Duke Ellington, among others. But one group that pops up again and again in his work is The Beach Boys. Which, you know what, fair enough. Pet Sounds is one of the all-time greats.
7. Margaret Atwood – The Arrogant Worms
Atwood, Canadian, loves Canadian music. So much. In an interview with CBC Music, she said, “I’m kind of keen on a group called the Arrogant Worms. When I’m explaining Canada to people who aren’t Canadian, I always start with their song, ‘Canada’s Really Big.’” It’s official: Margaret Atwood has cooler music taste than me.
8. John Green – The Mountain Goats
Green’s fondness for The Mountain Goats is widely known, as he references them every chance he gets. New Year’s Eve 2014, Green tweeted his habit of listening “This Year” annually to begin the new year. It’s a good song, and it makes sense Green loves John Darnielle’s music. They’re both angsty.
9. Vladimir Nabokov – Nothing
Seriously. Nabokov once described music thusly: “Music , I regret to say, affects me merely as an arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds.” Given this, I think Nabokov might have enjoyed John Cage’s “4’33″”.
Feature Images Via Youtube, Flavorwire, and British Council Literature