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 Last Night at the Viper Room. I live in Charlotte, North Carolina. I like caffeine, boardgames, and lists with three items.

I Know Times Are Changing

A few weeks ago, I was driving across North Carolina to interview a photographer–but halfway to my destination, I needed to pull over someplace where I could do two crucial interviews for an article I was writing for The New York Times about Originals, the next album drawn from Prince’s vaults. That’s how I ended up spending an hour at a random Hardee’s just off Interstate 87, talking on the phone with Susanna Hoffs and Questlove. (I bought an apple pie I didn’t eat, to justify my time in the Hardee’s booth.)

The album collects Prince’s demo versions of songs he gave away to other artists, and so I also spoke with his longtime collaborators Susannah Melvoin and Jill Jones, plus Troy Carter (advisor to the Prince estate)–and I swapped emails with Jay-Z. The story was a joy to write, and contains the insider scoop on how Prince ate Doritos: “He’d crunch really fast and chew really fast, but his hands were so delicate when he’d reach into the bag.”

You can read the article here.

posted 6 June 2019 in Articles, Outside. no comments yet

Kindness and Wonder

Hello, neighbor. I am very pleased to tell you that I have a new book coming later this year. It’s called Kindness and Wonder: Why Mister Rogers Matters Now More Than Ever.

The book is a biography of Fred Rogers, an exploration of his philosophy, and an appreciation of his role in our world and our popular culture.

It’ll be out on October 15, published by the good people at Dey Street Books. You can preorder it now, of course, either from the Internet retailer of your choice or your local bookstore. I am of the belief that the book will make it a beautiful day in your own neighborhood.

posted 8 April 2019 in Buy My Stuff. no comments yet

Kurt Cobain, 25 Years Later

Kurt Cobain died twenty-five years ago today. When I heard the news, I was sitting at my desk at Details magazine, where I was working as a music editor. (The office was on the corner of Broadway and Canal Street; I had a great panoramic view of Brooklyn, lower Manhattan, and New Jersey, when I remembered to turn my chair away from my desk and look out the window.) I had spent time with Nirvana in both Germany and Seattle over the previous two years for a pair of feature articles, a span of time that felt endless then and seems like an eyeblink now.

Another editor came into my office and said she had heard that Kurt Cobain was dead. At first I assumed this was just a jumbled rumor—only a few weeks earlier, he had been hospitalized in Rome for what was billed as an overdose (only later explained as a suicide attempt). I had been told what he said as he came out of his coma–“Get these fucking tubes out of my nose”—which had been spun as a manifesto of his indomitable will to live, or something like that.

Assuming that I would get an official explanation of how it was all a big misunderstanding, I called one publicist at Geffen Records who worked with Nirvana and got his voicemail, and then another one, with the same result. Then I called a third one, who hurriedly rushed me off the phone and forwarded me to the first one, who said wearily that Geffen didn’t have a statement to make yet. By the time I was done making my phone calls, cable news had photos of Cobain’s dead body.

Only moments for shock and grief to settle in: we had to figure out how we were going to cover the story. After a quick editorial huddle with my boss, David Keeps, I rushed out of the office to get my Nirvana notebooks, which had various useful addresses and phone numbers. I took the subway home to Brooklyn and spent an hour going through all my files, with MTV on in the background, where Kurt Loder covered the breaking story, interspersed with Nirvana music videos. For the life of me, I could not find the notebooks.

Defeated, I came back to Manhattan, and found that I had stashed the notebooks in a desk drawer in my office (reasoning that they were unusually important and I would want easy access to them at some point). Of course. The magazine put contributing editor Mim Udovitch, who had recently interviewed Courtney Love for the release of Live Through This, on the last plane to Seattle that day—where she found herself boarding with a small cohort of other New York writers on the same grim mission. Mim went under protest, saying that if she stayed home, Courtney would call her. We all scoffed at this, thinking that it was hubris, but Mim turned out to be right: she got nowhere in Seattle, but there was a message on her answering machine when she came home. (1994: not a time when most people had cell phones.)

We also paid for Dean Kuipers to report what he could from the Seattle rock scene that weekend; we never printed the results, but I read his dispatch. I remember it as a ten-page fax, eloquently written, laying out everything he did in Seattle, and how everyone he spoke to was gobsmacked with grief and politely made it clear they had zero interest in cooperating with the media.

That night, I kept listening to Nirvana’s music, and it tore me inside-out. I ended up writing a remembrance of Cobain for the magazine, trying to make sense of his life and death. You can read it here. If you’d like to read the 1993 cover story I wrote on Nirvana (at the time of In Utero), I archived it here. If you’d like to read the roundup I did this week for the New York Times on Cobain-oriented things to watch or read (books, articles, videos, poems, comics), it’s on their website here.

Can I say that I feel like Cobain’s death marks the end of my youth without it sounding melodramatic and “the day the music died”? Because it wasn’t that I woke up the next day a changed person, having shed my innocence. But I was just a year and a half younger than Cobain and, aside from that one kid in my high school I wasn’t close to, I don’t think I had known anyone my age who had died before him. Certainly not anyone I had spent hours talking to about life and art, as I had with him.

Nirvana was one of the first bands I ever wrote about: the first time I hung out for hours backstage, the first time I rode on somebody’s tour bus. I made mistakes in how I covered Kurt—there’s things he said that I had accepted too credulously, there’s a secret somebody else told me that I shouldn’t have shared. We had been friendly, if not close, but by the time he died, I’m pretty sure he had crossed me off the list of journalists he liked. (I didn’t know it at the time, but I figured it out later.) Kurt’s death was a lot more than my life lesson, but it nevertheless made me step back and think hard about a lot of things, and to change some of them.

I look back now and I can see how I hurtled through my early 20s, full of enthusiasm and good intentions, and how that often worked out for me, both in my writing and in my personal life, and how I learned that wasn’t always enough. Vulnerable and confused and loud, Nirvana is still the soundtrack for that time in my life.

posted 5 April 2019 in Archives, Articles. no comments yet

Holiday Shopping: How to Get Signed Copies of My Books

The holiday shopping season is nigh, and nothing says “I love you” like a copy of The World According to Tom Hanks. Unless maybe it’s a copy of The Beautiful Book of Exquisite Corpses.

I encourage you to buy either of those books from your favorite book purveyor–but if you would like to give your nearest and dearest a copy that’s been autographed by me, your best bet is to get in touch with the cool people at my local bookstore, Park Road Books in Charlotte, North Carolina. They will be happy to sell you a copy of the book and ship it to you, and I will be equally happy to come by the store and sign it before they pack it up (or even to personalize it with your name, or the name of someone you love, or the name “Jeremy” just because you like how that sounds).

Call them up at 704-525-9239, or if you’d rather email them, drop them a line at orders@parkroadbooks.com. Operators are standing by.

They currently have copies of The World According to Tom Hanks, The Beautiful Book of Exquisite Corpses, and The Tao of Bill Murray in paperback. If you want a copy of Last Night at the Viper Room, Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton’s Little John?, or The Tao of Bill Murray in hardcover, they should be able to accommodate you, but call them as soon as possible so they get it out to you in a timely fashion. (In any case, my suggestion is that if you don’t want to pay for express shipping, you should order the books two weeks in advance of when you need them–e.g., by December 10th if you want to make sure they arrive before Christmas.)

posted 21 November 2018 in Buy My Stuff. no comments yet

The World According to Tom Hanks Roundup

I’ve been busy with the hurlyburly of having a new book out–did I mention that I have a new book out? It’s called The World According to Tom Hanks: The Life, the Obsessions, the Good Deeds of America’s Most Decent Guy–but in case you missed some of the press notices for the aforementioned new book, I wanted to catch you up.

James Floyd Kelly reviewed the book at the GeekDad website, saying “The World According to Tom Hanks is THE book that fans of the actor deserve.”

Jocelyn McClurg of USA Today named it one of the paper’s five “not to miss” books of the week, observing, “If we didn’t already feel warm and fuzzy enough about Mr. Hanks, now we have that adorable photo of him in a red cardigan sweater from the set of the film (so-far untitled) in which he stars as children’s TV host Fred Rogers.”

And Michael Heaton wrote a column in the Cleveland Plain Dealer about the book (and Hanks’ long-running connections with the city of Cleveland): “It’s an intensely readable book, in large part because Hanks is a genuinely likable guy.”

posted 19 November 2018 in Buy My Stuff. no comments yet

The World According to Tom Hanks Is Out Now!

I am delighted to let you know that The World According to Tom Hanks is on sale now. I’m intensely proud of this book, which examines the life and philosophy of America’s favorite actor, and explores his psyche, going deeper than the usual mantra of “he’s just the nicest guy.” It features “The Ten Commandments of Ten Hanks,” 25 brilliant illustrations by the gifted R. Sikoryak, interviews with dozens of his friends and collaborators, and an in-depth look at his remarkable filmography. You can buy it from your local bookstore–or from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Powell’s, Target, or Walmart. In these dark days that we live in, I hope it gives you some solace and some inspiration.

posted 27 October 2018 in Buy My Stuff. no comments yet

Tour Schedule: The World According to Tom Hanks

Hello world! I have a new book coming out on October 23 from Grand Central Publishing, The World According to Tom Hanks, and I am coming to your town on my book tour (if your town is one of the five listed below). I will be reading from the book–thrill to the secret life and previously unknown pleasures of America’s favorite actor!–and answering questions about Tom Hanks (or really, anything else you want to ask me about). Also, I’ll be signing copies of The World According to Tom Hanks (or if you want to catch up on The Beautiful Book of Exquisite Corpses, I’m sure we can accommodate you). Laughs! Wisdom! Giveaway promo items! It’ll be ridiculous amounts of fun–you should come, and you should bring everyone you know. (If your town isn’t listed below, I hope to make it your way in the future–or you can carpool with a gang of friends to where I’m going to be.) See you soon!

Charlotte, NC: Tuesday, October 23rd (7 pm)

Park Road Books: 4139 Park Road, Charlotte NC 28209

Chapel Hill, NC: Wednesday, October 24th (7 pm)

Flyleaf Books: 752 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Chapel Hill, NC 27514

Davidson, NC: Thursday, October 25th (7 pm)

Main Street Books: 26 S. Main Street, Davidson, NC 28036

Asheville, NC: Monday, October 29th (6 pm)

Malaprop’s Bookstore: 55 Haywood Street, Asheville, NC

Portland, OR: Thursday, November 1st (7:30 pm)

Powell’s Books: 3723 SE Hawthorne Boulevard, Portland, OR

posted 8 October 2018 in Buy My Stuff. no comments yet

I Want to See Some History

I recently interviewed Tim Mohr for Billboard on the topic of his excellent new book, Burning Down the Haus, which tells the story of punk rock in East Germany before the Berlin Wall fell–in other words, a punk scene that had real political stakes (unlike many in the United States). He told me, “The German edition of the book uses one of the slogans as the title: ‘Strib nicht im Warteraum der Zukunft,’ which means “Don’t Die in the Waiting Room of the Future.” It’s a great rallying cry against complacency.” Read the interview and buy the book from Algonquin.

posted 29 September 2018 in Articles, Outside. no comments yet

Aretha Franklin at the Kennedy Center

Three days before Aretha Franklin died, I got a call from an editor at the New York Times, asking if I could put together an oral history of the Queen of Soul’s amazing 2015 performance of “Natural Woman” at the Kennedy Center (honoring Carole King). The catch was that since she didn’t have very long to live, I had only 24 hours to get the story done. It turned out to be the best kind of therapy: although I was grieving the loss of one of the greatest singers of the 20th century, I got to talk about her genius with people who loved her and had spent time with her. As always with pieces like this, nothing happened at first and I despaired of getting anyone at all to talk to me, and then in the final hour before the deadline I ended up juggling Cicely Tyson and James Taylor. You can read the article here.

posted 10 September 2018 in Articles, Outside. no comments yet

The Beautiful Book of Exquisite Corpses on Sale Now!

The Beautiful Book of Exquisite Corpses: A Creative Game of Limitless Possibilities is out now. I’m so proud of this book, I can’t even begin to tell you, but I guess I should try.

Let’s start with a quick explanation: it’s an creativity book, designed to send blue sparks through your brain and to enable long-distance collaborations with incredibly cool people (more on them in a minute). It’s based on the century-old game of Exquisite Corpse, invented by surrealist artist Andre Breton: you might know it by a different name, and the game has variations, but basically, you fold a piece of paper into three sections, and then three people draw a picture on it, without looking at what any of their fellow artists did. Then you unfold it to reveal a glorious or disturbing collaboration!

In the case of The Beautiful Book of Exquisite Corpses, edited by yours truly, the book has 110 contributors who started an Exquisite Corpse for you and friends to finish. (And they’re on perforated pages, so you can easily pull them out!) Because I am ridiculously fortunate, those 110 contributors include some amazingly gifted comics artists, writers, musicians, and actors, who have collectively won the Pulitzer Prize, the Tony Award, and the World Series. To name nine: Stephen Fry. Emily Nussbaum. Peter Kuper. Alexandra Petri. James Hannaham. Jane Espenson. Grace Slick. Moby. Mark Alan Stamaty.

Most of the pages have drawings, while a minority are seeded with sentences. (There’s also a verbal version of the Exquisite Corpse game.) But what’s consistent is that the contributors brought their A games: if you flip through this book, you will be constantly delighted. And once you actually tear it apart and start playing with it, you’ll be having as much fun as is humanly possible with your pants on. (Unless you take your pants off first.)

You can buy The Beautiful Book of Exquisite Corpses from your local bookstore or from many online retailers, including Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, Amazon, and Target–or just go to the Penguin web page for links to those venues and many others.

posted 30 August 2018 in Buy My Stuff. no comments yet