David Byrne bonus Q&A: 'I distinctly remember thinking: Wow, being a mailman would be an ideal job!'

By George Varga, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Entertainment News

What was David Byrne's dream job as a kid?

"I don't know how old I was - probably early adolescence - but I distinctly remember thinking: 'Wow, being a mailman would be an ideal job!'" said the Oscar, Golden Globe and multiple Grammy Award-winning musician.

"As a mailman, you walk around by yourself, you're outdoors, your thoughts are your own. Plus, the hours aren't too bad and the benefits are good. So I thought: 'Now, that's a job.'"

Of course, Byrne opted to forge a far different and far broader path all his own. He has explored music, theater and film, as well as writing books and heading his own record label, the now 32-year-old Luaka Bop, devoted to spotlighting a broad array of music from around the world.

More recently, in 2019 he launched Reasons to be Cheerful as a "solutions journalism" website that is "part magazine, part therapy session, part blueprint for a better world." And, just this past week, he debuted We Are Not Divided, a six-week online multimedia collaborative journalism initiative designed to bridge real and perceived gaps between people.

In the bonus Q&A below, he elaborates on a variety of subjects, including a musical similarity between him and former Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant.


Q: In a statement last year announcing Reasons to be Cheerful, you wrote: "It often seems as if the world is going straight to hell. I wake up in the morning, I look at the paper, and I say to myself, 'Oh no!' Often, I'm depressed for half the day. I imagine some of you feel the same." Do you still read the daily paper, or more than one?

A: Yes, I do. And in the last few days, I have thought that maybe I shouldn't. Maybe I should focus on what I'm doing and research the articles I'm doing, and not start the day with all that stuff in the newspapers because I don't know how constructive it actually is. Part of me says: "I want to know what's going on." Another part of me says: "Don't incapacitate yourself with all that stuff." But, of course, the part of me that is kind of a news junkie wins out. Newspapers are very seductive to me.

Q: How would you react if you received an offer to become a newspaper editor?

A: (Laughs uproariously) That's a good question. I don't know. I don't know. Right now, I stumbled on this and am doing We Are Not Divided and Reasons to be Cheerful, but I can still do my other work. I'd be afraid of getting sucked into anything full-time. I've learned from my creative life that I kind of like being my own boss and working with a group of collaborators who all share a common goal.


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