David ByrneThe musical polymath talks fame and failure.

David ByrneThe musical polymath talks fame and failure.

It would be a mistake to pigeonhole David Byrne. Best known as lead singer and principal songwriter of Talking Heads, the 66-year-old resists categorization—with pleasure. He is an Oscar-winning film composer, a collaborator with Robert Wilson and Fatboy Slim, a bike-rack designer, and, more recently, creator of a virtual reality piece inspired by neuroscience research.

In his spare time, he curates the website Reasons to Be Cheerful, a repository for positive things happening around the world that can be reproduced elsewhere. In March, he released American Utopia, his first solo album in 14 years. It has since taken him on a massive international tour, during which he is surely discovering more ideas to fuel his optimism. Before he embarked, Byrne sat down in New York City to discus...

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