Collaborations between musicians and authors seem obvious, like they should happen all the time, but the truth is, good ones don’t come along that often. Earlier this month, however, author, poet, and memoirist Mary Karr released her first album, Kin, in collaboration with country singer/songwriter Rodney Crowell, and boy is it good. Though we might be a little biased since we’ve always been die-hard Mary Karr fans, we love the album, which combines Karr’s sublime poetry with Crowell’s formidable musical talent. Inspired by their collaboration, we got to thinking about other fantastic author/musician pairs, from the time Kurt Cobain and William S. Burroughs recorded a Christmas album together to the time Bono hacked a Rushdie novel for lyrics. Click through to see a few of our favorites, and let us know if we’ve missed one of yours in the comments.
Mary Karr and Rodney Crowell
Before their collaboration, Crowell had long been a fan of Karr’s — even name-checking her in his 2003 song “Earthbound.” Eventually, the two artists met up and began writing songs together, many — in true memoirist and country music star form — about their families. The resultant album, Kin, is wonderful — not only is it star-speckled (Norah Jones, Lucinda Williams, Emmylou Harris and Rosanne Cash all feature, among others), but it is as painfully honest and simply beautiful as any of Karr’s memoirs. Well worth a listen, even if you don’t like country. Or memoirs.