Tuesday, August 18, 2009

He's on the road to somewhere

Musician David Byrne never goes on tour without his fold-up bicycle. His latest project is a book about his experiences on two wheels

‘I’M CHECKING it out – I got it figured out,” sang David Byrne on the Talking Heads song Cities . “There’re good points and bad points – but it all works out.” A gentle description of a city if ever there was one, but back in 1979 Byrne would deliver it with the bug-eyed zeal of a man who is never more freaked out than when confronted with the normal. Thirty years on, the manic streak has gone, replaced by a gentle laugh and shock of white hair, but those lyrics serve well as a template for his latest endeavour, Bicycle Diaries : a series of accounts of Byrne’s experiences travelling to cities around the world.

The Bicycle Diaries title isn’t there to fool you; while the 57-year-old has spent much of the last few decades touring the globe, first with Talking Heads and then as a solo artist, there have been two constants by his side: a diary, which he has kept, if not religiously then frequently, and a fold-up bicycle. The first chapter begins with Byrne cycling aimlessly around Niagra Falls, Buffalo, relaying his casual thoughts on sub-standard town planning and the life of local hero and Kodak founder George Eastman. Later on he examines Detroit, citing it as an example of what an unhealthy reliance on oil does to the average American city.


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