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Trend Watch: Writers Who Sing; Singers Who Write

It’s not enough to just be awesome at one thing anymore. More and more artists are multitasking, and we’re seeing a particular amount of crossover between the somewhat unlikely genres of music and literature. But wait — aren’t musicians supposed to be outgoing egomaniacs and aren’t writers supposed to be tweedy shut-ins? Well, the writer/musician isn’t exactly a new trend — remember Tarantula, Dylan’s stream-of-consciousness book of prose-poetry? And don’t forget that Leonard Cohen was actually a writer first. So maybe there’s something to this whole writer turned rock star thing. Here are some multitaskers who make us feel bad about ourselves when we lie around the house all Sunday.

1. Tao Lin
Shoplifting From American Apparel author/baby watermelon lover Tao Lin, who some hail as the new voice of Generation Y (and others dismiss as “a gimmicky asshole“), and Carles of Hipster Runoff have joined forces to make a band called “Jesus Christ” (the indie band). The one song they have released to the internets, “Is This Really What You Want?” is actually kind of good in a Her Space Holiday 2009 kind of way, but we are reserving judgment until the the whole EP drops. Their official press release assures us it will soon be “available digitally, physically, and emotionally.” Okay?

2. Rick Moody
Rick Moody, writer of intricate, syntactically enthralling novels, also creates intricate, gorgeous melodies with his band, The Wingdale Community Singers. The Ice Storm author started the band in 2002, the same year his memoir The Black Veil came out, so clearly the man’s a champion multi-tasker. The Singers play bluesy, lush, intensely satisfying old-timey music with modern lyrics that seems acutely related to what Moody tries to do with the written word. Their new album, Spirit Duplicator, came out last month. They’re a grown-up band for grown-ups. We like them. See them in the New York area this fall: 11/6 – Barbes, Brookyn, NY and 11/8 – Philoctetes Center, New York, NY.

3. Craig Finn
Craig Finn, the spastic lead singer of The Hold Steady, is trying his hand at screenwriting. Finn and Letterman writer Tom Ruprecht have acquired the rights to Chuck Klosterman’s memoir, Fargo Rock City, and are currently working on writing the first draft of the screenplay. This is going to be super awesome — if Craig Finn’s lyrics are any indication of his writing skills (and we kind of assume they are) expect the movie to be filled with spitting teenagers winding out lines about original sin and the apocalypse. In Fargo.

4. Ryan Adams
We’ve always known that Ryan Adams was a poet (Gold, anyone?) and this year he released his first book of poetry, Infinity Blues, to much critical acclaim. Much varied acclaim too, as befits a venture like this ‚ his Amazon page boasts glowing reviews from not only the authors Stephen King and Eileen Miles, but also Mary-Louise Parker and Cameron Crowe. Well, it’s good to have friends in high places, even if they are kind of random. We haven’t read the collection, but we imagine that Mr. Adams’s notoriously tortured soul is capable of some pretty good poetry.

Then there’s Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard, who joined forces to record One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur, which was released on October 20th along with the documentary of the same title (trailer below). The album contains 12 songs based on the prose of a legendary writer who can no longer form a band for himself. Okay, so this isn’t exactly crossover — Farrar and Gibbard are still making music. But it’s the thought that counts.

Don’t forget our other favorite genre-benders: Ryan Gosling, whose new band is a huge hit, Chip Kidd, amazing graphic designer and novelist, and Charlotte Gainsbourg, one of the rare songwriter/actresses who is actually really good at both. Who did we miss?

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