David Byrne Releases Audiobook Version of "The Bicycle Diaries" ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Sunday, October 03, 2010

David Byrne Releases Audiobook Version of "The Bicycle Diaries"

Click through to DOWNLOAD David Byrne's 9 Minute Introduction to the Audiobook (Free)

David Byrne Releases Audiobook Version of Last month, David Byrne released an audiobook version of last year's The Bicycle Diaries. This release is a good bit more than the typical author narration of their own work and below is David Byrne's description of the "You Are There" approach that he followed.

"After this book came out in hardback about a year ago, I wondered to myself, what if the audiobook for this project was more like a cross between a podcast and a radio show instead of the usual author or actor reading in silence? I was thinking about the kind of radio show that NPR stations do from time to time, with background music, street sounds and other ambiences that help put the listener in the picture. So, I did one chapter (New York) as a test, with me reading, and though it took a lot longer to assemble than I expected, I felt it did indeed do what I imagined it could; when you heard the tinkle of glasses and silverware during a restaurant “scene,” boom!—you immediately felt you were there. Your mind fills in the details and these little sound cues help paint a fuller picture. If only I could have added smell! When the text went off on one of many tangents, and I began ruminating about a subject off the beaten path, a little bit of music I happened to have available helped tell you, the listener, that, yes, we’ve left the “story” temporarily, but will return soon. It started as an experiment and then turned into a complete DIY project, with the Hendler Brothers keeping the ball rolling.

I also realized that this particular book could be consumed in any order, and it didn’t matter which chapter you started with. So one could download and listen to the chapters as individual podcasts, in any sequence. I could even make the chapters available to download separately—you wouldn’t need to buy the whole audiobook to see if you liked the experience. This all would have been impossible if these were made available only via CD (or cassette!)…or with many other types of books."
- David Byrne

David Byrne's narration of the audiobook adds a new dimension that couldn't be captured in hardcopy print. The press release for the hardcopy edition describes the "Bicycle Diaries [as] chronicl[ing] David’s observations and insights — what he is seeing, whom he is meeting, what he is thinking about — as he pedals through and engages with some of the world’s major cities. In places like Buenos Aires, Istanbul, San Francisco, and London, the focus is more on the musicians and artists he encounters." The problem with this is that some of the narrative was hard to follow in print as David jumped between subjects and it seemed a bit stream of consciousness. These problems go completely away in the audiobook format as David's narrative allows for the listener to get inside of his head and follow his thought patterns. The audio queues (background music, which indicates that David is off on a tangent) also help keep the narrative flowing in a (quasi-)linear fashion.

The audiobook (which runs 8 hours: 39 minutes) is available for $19.95 and each of the nine chapters and the epilogue are available as individual downloads for $2.49 each.

David Byrne