Tuesday, October 5th, 2010
By Vijay Khurana, Triple J
Nick Hornby loves pop music. This we know. From his record store-owning High Fidelity protagonist Rob, to 31 Songs, his collection of essays about his emotional relationships with his favourite tunes, he’s a writer who often writes about pop. But can he make it himself?
Lonely Avenue is a collaboration between Hornby and US musician Ben Folds. Now, before you get giddy and imagine that Nick Hornby has “Done a Joaquin Phoenix” and given up his word processor for a synthesiser and a drum machine, I should tell you his contribution is strictly a literary one: It’s lyrics by Hornby, music by Folds, and performance by Folds and his band.
This idea of a novelist and a musician collaborating is a fascinating one (just imagine some of JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth songs set to music by Kanye West. “Old Tom Bombadil / is a merry fellow…” YES!) In this case, the two artists in question seem to be very well suited to one another, and have spoken in the past about being fans of one another’s work. Hornby brings his greatest strengths to the new format, especially his humour and effortless ability to create memorable characters. And the album is full of characters, both real and imagined.