Our Favorite Writers Turned Musicians


Michel Houellebecq, France’s enfant terrible, has just released a pop song titled, “Le Film Du Dimanche” (The Sunday Film), available here. However, this isn’t his first effort at songwriting. In 2000, he released Présence Humaine, a nine-song album with funky keyboards and even some handclaps. And on a related side note, his 2005 novel The Possibility of an Island was the inspiration for Iggy Pop’s Préliminaires album. We first wrote about the crossover between writers and musicians back in 2009, but with the release of Houellebecq’s new single, it seems high time for another look at the phenomenon.

Nick Hornby

Ben Folds teamed up with Nick Hornby late last year to create the album Lonely Avenue, which features lyrics by Hornby and vocals/music by Folds. This song is called “From Above.” However, the highlight of the album is chorus of the catchy “Levi Johnston’s Blues,” which features posts from the Wasila native’s MySpace page, which include bon mots like “I’m a fuckin’ redneck” and “I live to hang out with the boys.” Sorry, Bristol.

Emily Moore

Emily Moore is both a saucy poet and a bona fide songwriter in the hyper-literate country trio, Ménage à Twang. Their website states,” Ménage’s songs will touch you. “Even if that touch is not always appropriate.” The album release party for their second effort, titled We Don’t Judge, is happening March 11th at Littlefield, and the video above is called “Listen Sister, Don’t Date a Hipster.”

Amy Tan (with the Rock Bottom Remainders):

How could we forget those rascally Rock Bottom Remainders? As it says on the website: “Between them, they’ve published more than 150 titles, sold more than 150 million books, and been translated into more than 25 languages. But for one week a year, they’re rock stars.” There are fifteen founding members of the Remainders, which includes Dave Barry, Stephen King, Amy Tan, Barbara Kingsolver, and Roy Blount, Jr. Scott Turow was added to keep things legal. Or just to wear a funny and very unflattering rainbow wig while singing. Who knows? You can see Amy Tan getting her dominatrix/Village People look on above, and you can hear Dave Barry destroy everything that is holy by singing “Wild Thing” here.

Doug Johnstone

Doug Johnstone is a Scottish writer and member of the band Northern Alliance, and also holds a PhD in experimental nuclear physics. Johnstone’s second book, The Ossians, is about a band touring Scotland’s seedy bar circuit, and his new book, Smokeheads, is out today. It’s a thriller about a group of thirtysomethings who travel to the Scottish Highlands in search of delicious whiskey, but (you guessed it) things go terribly awry along the way. Speaking of things going awry, here’s Johnstone performing his song, “Bjork is Calling Out From the Wreckage.”

Patti Smith

The legendary poet and songwriter performs “Horses” and “Hey Joe” in 1976 on the Old Grey Whistle Test.

Jim Carroll

Carroll was best known for penning The Basketball Diaries, but he was also famous for the song, “People Who Died,” which ended up making an appearance in the movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. His cameo in the 1985 disaster, Tuff Turf, was really the only good thing about the film (besides the outfits, of course).

Neal Pollack

The Daily Show – Neal Pollack Tags: Daily Show Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,The Daily Show on Facebook

In 2003, Pollack was on The Daily Show advertising his band and his book, Never Mind the Pollacks. Jon Stewart plays a song excerpt from the Neil Pollack Invasion around 4:02, which contains the lovely refrain, “New York City is a pile of shit.”

So tell us: Which writers turned rockers did we miss?