Rockers-turned-authors

Rock stars who write books, too -- smarter than rock stars who Twitter?
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arts@sfbg.com

The Romantic notion of the specialized, single-pursuit genius is outdated. In this century, nothing is all-or-nothing, and postmodernism allows for and even encourages multitaskers, plate-spinners, and well-rounded individuals.

Anyway, once you become a megastar, what else is there to do? David Byrne, Nick Cave, and Ryan Adams are all prolific musicians, releasing albums practically every year, and somehow they've also found the time to write books — in case you're too young to remember, objects consisting of paper and words that have no relation to Facebook.

Inevitably we pick up these books because we're fans of the author's music. We want to know if these musicians are brilliant in other endeavors. We are searching for clues to explain how the creative mind works. Pondering a YBCA art exhibit, Byrne explains, "I have to admit that sometimes the artist's story, if I am informed of it, adds to and affects what I see."

It is nearly impossible to avoid framing these books within a biographical knowledge and musical understanding of each author. Maybe it doesn't matter if we separate these concepts. Or maybe, as death-of-the-author proponents might claim, it's imperative.

What would make these musicians want to write books? To stay vibrant artistically, maybe it is necessary to branch out into multiple disciplines. Or maybe such ventures are just a joke on the fan, another way to make money from brand-name recognition.

Rocker books beg a lot of questions, and maybe the most interesting one is: are they any good?

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