David Hajdu is the music critic for The New Republic and a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He is currently at work on a history of popular music, to be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
He is the author of three books of narrative nonfiction and 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), and Heroes and Villains: Essays on Music, Movies, Comics, and Culture (2009). 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 Villians was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and it won the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award. As an editor and magazine writer, Hajdu has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award several times, 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.
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, 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.
Since 2010, Hajdu has done some songwriting, principally as a lyricist for jazz and pop composers. The songs include "Do You Think This Happens Every Day" and "Good Things Happen Slowly," written with Fred Hersch; "Lullaby for Nathan Charles," written with Mickey Leonard; "Weren't We in Love," written with Renee Rosnes; and a number of songs written with Jill Sobule: "I Swear I Saw Christopher Reeve," "Bad Idea," "The Angel in the Attic," and "Nothing," among them. These songs have been performed (and/or recorded) by singers including Jill Sobule, Mary Foster Conklin, Colleen McHugh, Tanya Moberly, Marissa Mulder, and Hajdu's own favorite vocalist, Karen Oberlin.
Hajdu is the father of three Jacob, Victoria, and Nathan Hajdu and he is married to the singer and actor Karen Oberlin. He and his family live in Manhattan.
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