Hello. I’m Gavin Edwards, the public speaker and the New York Times-bestselling author of The Tao of Bill Murray, the ’Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy series, and Kindness and Wonder: Why Mister Rogers Matters Now More Than Ever. If you’re interested in hiring me, click here for more information.


The theater scene in Charlotte used to be better than it is today. (I wasn’t here, but as I understand it, the turning point was a 1996 production of Angels in America that led to court cases and funding withdrawals and the end of some local companies.) But there’s one company in town whose work constantly impresses me: XOXO, led by Matt Cosper.

I recently wrote about XOXO for Charlotte magazine and Cosper was kind enough to let me sit in on some rehearsals and lift the veil on some of his creative mysteries. Two things you should know: (1) I wrote this article before I started working at Charlotte Latin School as their Editorial Director, which is good, because Cosper works there too and it would have felt hinky and conflicted if I had written the article after I arrived. So I’m glad I got this one in under the wire because I think you need to know about XOXO. (2) The article’s headline has been changed online, presumably for SEO purposes: if you read it on the printed page, it was called HE’LL EAT HIS HAT.

posted 8 May 2024 in Uncategorized. no comments yet

State of the Bob 2024

I went to see Bob Dylan play last week, at the Belk Theater in Charlotte, North Carolina. I have, at various points in my life, been an avid Dylan fan, but the two times I saw him in concert (once in 1986 at Madison Square Garden with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, once in 2009 at the Hollywood Palladium), he gave indifferent shows, and so I had given up on him as a live performer, despite his perpetual touring in recent decades.

However, my friend Jeff, who has seen the great man dozens of times, convinced me that although he was erratic live, he was often excellent, and that given strong recent reports it was worth taking the chance. I’m glad I did: the show was extraordinary and I thought some of you might be interested on what a Dylan show is like in 2024.

1. Dylan’s voice, never a sterling instrument, left him long ago, of course, and many years back, he abandoned the original melodies of most of his greatest songs. When his (solid, sympathetic) band started playing a new song, no matter what the chord progression was, any composition seemed like a possibility until he started singing, from “Danny Boy” to “Crazy in Love” to “Spanish Is the Loving Tongue.” Accepting this situation is the price of admission.

If you can roll with that, Dylan has a remarkable vocal presence: it’s not the voice of doom as the world ends that some older musicians get (Leonard Cohen, John Lee Hooker). It’s more like the trickster trying to tell you the truth through cracked lips. He’s not King Lear on the heath, he’s Lear’s fool.

2. Apparently, Bob is suffering from a serious case of vertigo and can no longer remain upright for the duration of a concert. He now plays piano for the entire show: when the curtain comes up, he’s already seated. (He sometimes stands up to deliver vocals, but he can lean on the piano when he needs to.) Assuming the reports of vertigo are true, I’m sure that is unpleasant for him and he has my full sympathies, but it turns out to be a blessing musically: he is a good and interesting honky-tonk piano player and being on a new instrument forces him to engage with the songs with vigor and focus.

3. The setlist, which doesn’t change much from night to night on this tour, is largely drawn from Dylan’s 2020 album Rough and Rowdy Ways. But approximately every third song was an oldie, and it was a fascinating selection of songs from his back pages, familiar to fans, but not his best-known, well-worn hits: “Most Likely You’ll Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine,” “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight,” “Gotta Serve Somebody.”

4. Late in the show, he did a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Big River,” and then spoke for the first time all night, interacting with the audience as if he had been chatting with them all night long. He was introducing an Irish folk song called “The Roving Blade” that he had done only three times before, according to the Bobologists out there. (Oh, I should have mentioned that it was St. Patrick’s Day and he was wearing a bright green shirt.) It was both pretty great and a reminder that there’s a lot of music history in that man.

5. Last song of the night, no encore: “Every Grain of Sand.” The arrangement was gorgeous and Bob rendered something close to the original melody—it was a beautiful end to the night. If the rumors are true and Dylan is thinking about coming off the road sometime soon, the song, amazed at the countless wonders of the universe and the numinous ambiguity of a higher power, is an entirely fitting capstone to his career.

posted 29 March 2024 in News, Reviews. no comments yet

“We Are the World”

Perhaps you recently watched the Netflix documentary The Greatest Night in Pop, about “We Are the World,” and it only whetted your appetite for information about the U.S.A. for Africa recording session in 1985, or it left you with unanswered questions, like how did Dan Aykroyd get there anyway? You are in luck, because back in 2015, I wrote an exhaustive moment-by-moment analysis of the video which you can read here. (All the quotes from Lionel Richie in Billboard were actually from an interview I did, but it seemed ostentatious to write “As Lionel Richie told me in his living room…”) We are the ones who make a brighter day, so start reading.

posted 20 February 2024 in Articles. no comments yet

R.I.P. Mary Weiss

I discovered the Shangri-Las in the summer of 1988, when my friend Rob and I had our minds blown by their greatest-hits album—late to the party by any objective measure, since their hitmaking days were twenty-plus years earlier, but nevertheless a long time ago now. Enduring favorite across the decades: the intense spoken-word song “Past, Present and Future,” which seems way too weird to have made it to #59, but nevertheless did.

In 2007, I had lunch at a Chinese restaurant with Mary Weiss, previously the Shangri-Las’ lead singer: she was promoting her first and only solo album, Dangerous Game. I wrote about that encounter for Rolling Stone; you can read the article here. She wasn’t going to read the fortune from her fortune cookie out loud until I asked her what it said: “Your beautiful voice gives deep and unforgettable impressions.”

Last week, sadly, Mary died at age 75. I had the honor of writing about her life for The New York Times: you can read that obituary here. A quote from songwriter Ellie Greenwich (who cowrote several Shangri-Las hits, including “Leader of the Pack”) about the group that we had to cut for space: “We would say ‘Not nice, you must be ladies,’ and they would say, ‘We don’t want to be ladies.’”

posted 25 January 2024 in Articles. no comments yet


I have some happy professional news: for the last few months, I’ve been working at Charlotte magazine, the top-notch glossy monthly covering the Queen City. I’m a contributing editor, which in practice means that I write an article roughly every other month, mostly about the arts scene here in Charlotte. I wish there was even more culture going on—I think the city thirsts for it—but I’ve already uncovered cool things happening here in town that I didn’t know about and I feel lucky that I get to share those discoveries with readers.

I’ve written three articles for Charlotte in the last few months, most recently a feature about the surprisingly vibrant standup comedy scene here in town. Also recently in print (and now on the web): a profile of local romance novelist Shamara Ray and an essay about the late Rolfe Neill (former publisher of the Charlotte Observer and one of the architects of modern Charlotte).

If there’s anything happening in Charlotte culturally that you think I should know about, let me know! You can send me an email or reply right here in the comments.

posted 4 January 2024 in Articles. no comments yet

R.I.P. Shane MacGowan

Shane MacGowan died last week. He was the main singer, songwriter, and creative force behind the Pogues, and given his reckless abandon towards his own health, it’s a miracle he made it to the age of 65. I put together a playlist for The New York Times compiling ten of his greatest tracks, with and without the Pogues, telling the story of his musical life strapping a punk-rock engine onto Celtic traditional music. It was a strange day—I never met the man, and although I loved his music I never thought of myself as a super-fan—but at various moments, I found myself wracked by high-speed grief. I hope you spend some time listening to his music and raising a glass in his honor.

posted 4 December 2023 in Articles. no comments yet

Holiday Shopping 2023

Face front, true believers! It’s December, which means it’s time to gear up for gifts for your loved ones! And what better way to let them know that you care about them in a profound way that can’t be expressed by socks or a fruit basket than to get them a book? Maybe a book that has prose in it by me?

I contributed to two books this year. One of them is Overlooked, a collection of the New York Times column of obituaries about people (mostly women or people of color) who didn’t get proper obituaries in the paper when they died because of institutional sexism and racism. I’ve been proud to write installments of the column and I’m delighted that editor Amisha Padnani included my writeup of Rose Mackenberg, Houdini assistant and “ghost-buster,” in this gorgeous volume collecting the stories of dozens of people who are overlooked no more. You can buy it anywhere books are sold, including your local bookstore.

I also, of course, cowrote MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios with the estimable Joanna Robinson and Dave Gonzales. The book was an instant New York Times bestseller and has gotten many positive reviews, a majority of them from people who are not in my immediate family, using phrases like “compulsively readable.” Again, you can buy it from anywhere books are sold (the good people at Norton helpfully compiled lots of links to various sellers).

If you’re looking for a copy of MCU that was signed by all three of us, I believe that The Book Loft in Columbus and the Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn still has copies left over from our whirlwind book tour: I’m sure they’ll be happy to sell you a copy and ship it to you. (You might want to call first to check that they still have what you’re looking for.)

Park Road Books in Charlotte, my hometown indie bookstore, will also be happy to sell you a copy of any of my books, including catalog titles like The Tao of Bill Murray and Kindness and Wonder, and ship it to you or a loved one. And I will happily personalize it and inscribe it for you before they send it out!

Friendly reminder: As always with holiday shopping, it’s better to order sooner rather than later so you’re not at the mercy of our nation’s overstrained delivery service.

posted 2 December 2023 in Buy My Stuff. no comments yet

MCU Reviews

It’s been almost a month since the publication of MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios—by Joanna Robinson, Dave Gonzales, and me—and we’ve been lucky enough to have many people write thoughtful reviews of the book. If you haven’t already picked up a copy from your local bookstore, there are links to many retailers assembled here.

But perhaps first you’d like to read what somebody else has said about it?

Publishers Weekly (starred review): “a superb chronicle of how Marvel Studios conquered Hollywood.”

The New York Times (review): “The book’s admiration for Marvel movies works in its favor, freeing the writers to skip straight to the gossip, like the relative who pulls you aside at Thanksgiving to whisper about your cousin’s divorce.”

The New York Times (a roundup of recent recommended books): “This engaging book captures how movies based on comic-book properties came to dominate pop culture — at least until now.”

The Washington Post: “Robinson, Gonzales and Edwards set out to write ‘the most thorough, authoritative history of Marvel Studios to date,’ and that is exactly what they have done.”

Library Journal (starred review): “With comprehensive research and no small amount of wit, the authors detail the corporate strategies that led to the expansion of Marvel Studios.”

Agents of Fandom: “necessary reading for anyone who fancies themselves an MCU fan.”

PopMatters: “essential reading for any fan of blockbusters or Hollywood history.”

The Cosmic Circus: “The earth-shattering production revelations uncover the most controversial topics Marvel fans have always wanted to know.”

CBR: “MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios isn’t just an entertaining and informative story; it’s an essential chronicle of cinematic history.”

posted 5 November 2023 in Reviews. no comments yet

River Phoenix, 1970-1993

River Phoenix died thirty years ago today, on a Hollywood sidewalk outside the Viper Room, in the early hours of Halloween. Costumed partygoers stepped around his body as he thrashed on the concrete and his younger siblings tried to keep him alive.

If River were alive today, he would be 53 years old. I still see shadows of him everywhere, especially in the careers of Leonardo diCaprio and Joaquin Phoenix. Even now, it’s impossible for me not to wonder about a world in which he’s walking red carpets (reluctantly) and appearing in A24 films and advocating for veganism.

Ten years ago, my book about Phoenix, Last Night at the Viper Room, was published. When I wrote it, I hoped that it would spark a rediscovery of Phoenix and a reassessment of his too-brief career. I don’t think that happened, for a variety of reasons (five years ago, I wrote about some of them for Vanity Fair). There’s an economy of celebrity in death, just as there is in life.

That makes it even more precious to me when people who weren’t alive during River’s lifetime connect with him and his beautiful work. Tonight watch Dogfight or My Own Private Idaho or Stand by Me and take a moment to reflect on what might have been, and who he might have been.

posted 31 October 2023 in Articles. no comments yet

New York Times Bestseller MCU

Yes! MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios, the book by Joanna Robinson, Dave Gonzales, and yours truly, hit the New York Times hardcover nonfiction list (online last week, in print next week). After all our hard work, I couldn’t be happier that so many people are reading and enjoying it—and it was an unalloyed delight to meet so many of you during our book tour the last couple of weeks.

If you’re interested in buying a copy for yourself or a loved one, your local bookstore should have it—or if you prefer online shopping, our publishers have set up a page with many links to various retailers.

Perhaps you would prefer to read an excerpt or three before you buy your copy? We can help you.

Rolling Stone hosted a long excerpt about the origins of Marvel Studios at a Mar-a-Lago lunch.

Vanity Fair reprinted a chapter about how Marvel cast its movies and the measures taken by its stars to make their bodies superheroic.

Time excerpted the story of Marvel Studios’ first feature film, Iron Man, and the freewheeling collaboration of Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr.

And TVLine offered a taste of the book with a reprint of the section on the ill-fated Inhumans series.

(You may have paywall issues with Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair; my apologies if that’s the case.)

posted 30 October 2023 in News. no comments yet