About David Hajdu


David Hajdu is the music critic for The Nation and a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Before joining The Nation in January 2015, he served for more than ten years as the music critic for The New Republic. He is currently at work on a "fictional work of nonfiction," a biography of a nonexistent songwriter. He is also completing the libretto for a music-performance piece about Orson Welles.

Hajdu is the author of four books of nonfiction and one collection of essays: Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn (1996), Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña and Richard Fariña (2001), The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic Book Scare and How It Changed America (2008), Heroes and Villains: Essays on Music, Movies, Comics, and Culture (2009), and Love for Sale: Pop Music in America (fall 2016).

His books have received many honors. Lush Life and Positively 4th Street were both finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and both books won the ASCAP Deems-Taylor Award. The Ten-Cent Plague was a finalist for the Eisner award, and the editors of Amazon named it the #1 Best Book of the Year on the arts. Heroes and Villains was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and it won the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award. Lush Life was also named a Book to Remember by the New York Public and was ranked by The New York Times as one of the Hundred Best Nonfiction Books of All Time.

As a critic and journalist, Hajdu has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award, and his articles and essays have been selected for a number of anthologies, including Best Music Writing, Best American Magazine Writing, The New York Times Arts & Culture Reader, Best American Comics Writing, and OK You Mugs: Writers on Movie Actors.

Since 2010, Hajdu has been increasingly active as a songwriter and librettist for concert music. Songs with his lyrics have appeared on five albums since 2013, and have been performed by artists including Mary Foster Conklin, Hilary Kole, Jo Lawry, Kate McGarry, Marissa Mulder, Stacy Sullivan, Michael Winther, and his personal favorite among singers, Karen Oberlin. He co-conceived the 2015 concept album Dottie's Charms, with music by Jill Sobule and words by Hajdu, Jonathan Lethem, Luc Sante, and others. The first album dedicated to songs with his lyrics, Waiting for the Angel, was released by Miranda Music in 2015. It was named the Best Debut Album of the Year by the Bob Blumenfeld in the Jazz Critics Poll, described in the New York Observer as "vivid, with grim, mordant undertones."

Hajdu was born and raised in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. First publication: Dave's News, made in the kitchen at age ten, 1965. First professional work: illustrations for The Easton Express, 1972. College: NYU. In 1979, he started writing for The Village Voice and Rolling Stone. He was the founding editor of Video Review magazine (1980-1984), and later a top editor at Entertainment Weekly (1990-1999). In the late 1980s, he started teaching, originally at The New School. He has written for The American Scholar, The Atlantic Monthly, BookForum, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, The New Times Book Review, Vanity Fair, and other publications. He taught at the University of Chicago (as nonfiction writer in residence) and Syracuse University before Columbia.

Hajdu is married to the singer Karen Oberlin. He and his family live in Manhattan.


Related Links:

David Hajdu at Columbia University

David Hajdu on Macmillan's site

The Nation

Karen Oberlin


Contact Information:

David Hajdu
Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
2950 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
dh2145@columbia.edu

Literary agent:
Chris Calhoun, Chris Calhoun Agency

Film and television rights:
Brian Siberell, Creative Artists Agency



... Photo: Chester Higgins, Jr.