Wesley Stace Becomes John Wesley Harding

The World

Wesley is a talented man. His third novel (under his given name, Wesley Stace) came out this year, a crime story called Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer. Under the stage name John Wesley Harding, he always seems to have an album coming out. His twelfth is The Sound of His Own Voice. And in his spare time, Stace/Harding puts together a variety show called a Cabinet of Wonders, and it’s a hot ticket wherever it plays.
The stage name comes from a Bob Dylan tune about an outlaw cowboy. “I was at Cambridge University, I was doing my PhD, I wasn’t really meant to be running around doing gigs, so I took a fake name,” he tells Kurt Andersen. “Not so they wouldn’t know, but so when it all went badly wrong, I could go back to what was likely to be my career path – which was in the social and political sciences.”
The stage name has worked out well in another way. Stace thinks the literary efforts of musicians are undervalued. “I’ve seen my friend Josh Ritter come out with a book – a great book, I think. And Steve Earle’s book – excellent. And I just don’t think these books get the attention that deserve.”
Harding plays live in the studio – here’s a video for his song “There’s A Starbucks (Where The Starbucks Use To Be).”
Video: “I Should Have Stopped”

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