A songsmith traces his storytelling roots.
As one half of Eurythmics, Dave Stewart topped the charts throughout the ’80s with songs that combined haunting melodies with crystalline, layered instrumentation, including “Sweet Dreams” and “Would I Lie to You?” He later wrote and produced a string of hits for rock royalty, including Mick Jagger, Tom Petty, Ringo Starr, and Bon Jovi. Along the way, he cultivated a devoted fan base as a solo act. His new album, The Blackbird Diaries, is rooted in country and blues with guest appearances by Stevie Nicks and Martina McBride. This week he points us to three books from his childhood that still resonate.
By Lewis Carroll
“This book was one of the first books that completely blew my mind. It really made a lasting impression on me, and when I saw it as a BBC-TV adaptation, it was one of the first times I got really frightened, and in kind of a surreal way. You see all of these incredibly dark characters, and that imagery had a lasting impact on me. As I got older, I drew on the surrealism of this book when making music or videos; in fact I played the Caterpillar in a video of a song I wrote with Tom Petty called ‘Don’t Come Around Here No More.’ “
By Charles Dickens
“I come from the northeast of England, from a town that when I was growing up, was in a depression. The coal mines had closed down, the ship yards closed down, and the town went through a very hard time. Later on when I went down to London at 15 years old I was wandering around, feeling like an orphan. Everything is so huge. Your eyes are wide open, but your mind is not, and you’re just beginning to understand the perils you can get into. I met lots of Fagins in London and for a while had to become an ‘Artful Dodger’ myself. I still carry this book everywhere.”
By Mark Twain
“My dad would come upstairs and tell me to go to sleep, and I’d get under the covers and read Huckleberry Finn. I couldn’t put it down. To someone like me in the northeast of England, these adventures were so exotic. But most importantly, it was told through the eyes of a young boy, and I was a young boy reading it. I got to understand more about segregation and slavery, all these things going on a world away in this phantasmagorical place. Even when I was down in Mississippi years later, making the film Deep Blues I remembered that feeling — under the covers with my hardcover and my torch.”