Wednesday, December 1, 2010

David Byrne - Bicycle Diaries

I just finished David Byrne's book, Bicycle Diaries, since picking it up from the library a few days ago. As you probably already know, David Byrne was the lead singer for the Talking Heads, the seminal band from the '70s and '80s.

Along with the Ramones, Blondie and few other bands of the famed CBGB era, the Talking Heads helped jump start the alternative music scene. I'm a bit of a Talking Heads fan and have listened to my share of their music. I am guilty of knowing little to nothing of David Byrne's post Talking Heads music career, though he's been involved with various projects ever since.

In case you need a refresher course - David Bryne from the Talking Heads days - one of my favorite Talking Heads songs. The video itself is also brilliant, especially for the simplicity and era. From a visual standpoint, David Bryne pulls the whole thing off. Fantastic.

Oh yeah - back to the book. Don't expect the usual bike book. It's not about bicycles as sport, or a tool to be worshiped. No, it's about just plain riding for transportation and the experiences it allows. The book is a wandering flow of stories through the mind of Byrne and how he views the world. It's a mixture of travel log, peeks into the music and art world, and how using a bicycle as a means of transportation just makes sense.

Byrne is certainly the intellectual artist type, no doubt about that. He rides his bike through various cities and areas around the world, from not so friendly bike areas, to bike transportation utopias in Europe. Locales ranging from Rochester, New York, to London, to Buenos Aires and other places - some exotic, some not so.

He goes into detail on what he sees and the people he meets and deals with, with a very liberal perspective take on things. Being on that side of the fence, it works for me. It's the very big picture, artist take on things. It's a bit of a rambling ride, with the occasional goofy sarcastic view.

The only total bike related aspect of the book is the Epilogue, which focuses on bike advocacy. Byrne has been getting around by bike since the '70s and is very familiar with the NYC scene. The bike is not just a whim or jump on the green bandwagon. He knows what he speaks.

Would I recommend the book? That depends. If you're looking for some kind of bikey tour guide - no. If you're interested in peeking into the mind of David Byrne, with a bicycle slant to the story telling - yes.

I did enjoy it - maybe you will too.

1 comment:

  1. He's an interesting man, sounds like an interesting book. I often listen to his music, while bicycling.