“I Have Something I’d Like to Say, But How Do I Best Say It?”–A Chat with Yuval Taylor

I’m delighted today to be in conversation with my very good friend and former colleague Yuval Taylor.

(You can stream our chat via the embed here, on Anchor, or pretty much anywhere else you source your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, and Google Podcasts.)

Yuval is the coauthor of the books Darkest America: Black Minstrelsy from Slavery to Hip-Hop and Faking It: The Quest for Authenticity in Popular Music. His writing has appeared in the Guardian, the Antioch Review, and the Oxford American, among other publications. His most recent book, as a solo author, is Zora and Langston: A Story of Friendship and Betrayal, which was a finalist for the 2019 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Biography. It’s a deeply researched look at the six-year-long friendship, and eventual bitter falling out, between Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes. The book, which will be released in paperback in July 2020, has been praised by NPR as having “a vivid anecdotal style,” by the Wall Street Journal as “compelling, concise and scrupulously researched,” and by the New York Times Book Review as “a highly readable account of one of the most compelling and consequential relationships in black literary history.”

In our wide-ranging chat, Yuval and I discuss the secret to being incredibly prolific as a writer, the joy as a writer and researcher in finding out everything you can about a subject and then distilling it, how the process of doing in-depth historical research can sometimes feel like being surprised by the twists and turns in a really great novel, the pleasures of following a set of characters through a distinct period of time and exploring their relationship dynamics, the challenge of writing about love when sex isn’t involved, the dangers of driving to Bushwick in the 1980s, and discovering a fuller picture of someone after they die if you’ve only ever known them while they’re sick.


Yuval’s online home, Backland

Zora and Langston: A Story of Friendship and Betrayal. The paperback edition will be released on July 21, 2020.

Darkest America: Black Minstrelsy from Slavery to Hip-Hop

Faking It: The Quest for Authenticity in Popular Music

Yuval’s secondary blog about investment strategies, invest(igations)

Yuval’s writing at Seeking Alpha

Yuval’s writing on the Portfolio123 blog

Yuval edited I Was Born a Slave Volume 1 and Volume 2

Storms: My Life with Lindsey Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac by Carol Ann Harris

Making Rumours: The Inside Story of the Classic Fleetwood Mac Album and Get Tusked: The Inside Story of Fleetwood Mac’s Most Anticipated Album are both by Ken Caillat.

Bumping Into Geniuses: My Life Inside the Rock and Roll Business by Danny Goldberg

Mick Fleetwood’s books are Fleetwood: My Life and Adventures in Fleetwood Mac and Play On: Now, Then, and Fleetwood Mac.

Jimmy McDonough is the author of Shakey: Neil Young’s Biography.

The Buckingham Nicks demo of “Sorceror”

The Buckingham Nicks demo of “Garbo”

The so-called angry version of Stevie Nicks’s “Smile at You”

Stevie Nicks’s solo demo of “Gypsy”

The Gizmos

GMHC (Gay Men’s Health Crisis)

Yuval’s Soundcloud

You can read a bit more about the Yoruba Orisha Baptist Church in Flatbush, Brooklyn, here and here.

@yuvaltaylor on Twitter