Since his breakthrough 2014 hit “Take Me To Church,” Wicklow native Andrew “Hozier” Byrne has woven storytelling and social critique into his soaring vocals and soulful, bluesy songwriting. Heavily influenced by gospel sounds and artist-activists like Nina Simone and Woodie Guthrie, he’s tackled issues of hate, domestic violence, and religious hypocrisy throughout his oeuvre.

Hozier also takes inspiration from the literary greats – often drawing from the fairytale worlds and Irish folklore of Wilde and Yeats. Over the pandemic he channeled his passion for poetry into weekly readings on Instagram Live, sharing passages by the likes of Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Pablo Neruda, Seamus Heaney, Stephen Dunn, and T. S. Eliot.

From Orwell to Beckett, find a sampling of books Hozier has referenced and recommended over the years below. Complement with the reading lists of Tom Waits and Oscar Wilde.

1984 by George Orwell (also rec’d by David BowieJohn LennonRichard Branson, Richey Edwards & Steve Jobs)

“One of my favorite books is Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, and Catcher in the Rye obviously, is a big influence and is one of my favorites.” –H

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (also rec’d by Kareem Abdul-JabbarKurt CobainLenny KravitzLiz Phair, Philip Roth & Richey Edwards)

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (also rec’d by Jim MorrisonLeonard Cohen, RATM & Susan Sontag)

“A big one, certainly for this album and the first EP. I think there’s a lot of scenes in that book which found their way into the album.” –H

Dubliners by James Joyce (also rec’d by Jim MorrisonLeonard Cohen & Ernest Hemingway)

Hozier reading ‘Araby’ from Dubliners.

Poetry by Seamus Heaney

“I’ve a few Seamus Heaney books…On the road I had downloaded a collection of recordings of him reading his own poems, which I think is really special when you can hear a poet’s own voice giving voice to the work.” –H

The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde (also rec’d by Morrissey)

“[I’m a] big Oscar Wilde fan, even his short stories – his short stories are gorgeous…so lyrical.” –H

Collected Poems by W.B. Yeats (also rec’d by Leonard Cohen)

“I have a bit of a love affair with fairytales and some of the ideas of Irish mythology, like Oscar Wilde and W.B. Yeats who captured a lot of that very beautifully.” –H

Work by T.S. Eliot

“On this tour I have a T.S. Eliot book with me, which is nice…grinding me into my mortality.” –H

I Put A Spell On You: The Autobiography Of Nina Simone by Nina Simone

“Biggest musical influences would be people like Nina Simone and Tom Waits…Certainly I think Nina Simone is close to my heart.” –H

Lowside of the Road: A Life of Tom Waits by Barney Hoskyns

“Tom Waits is a perfect example of an influence. He writes so immaculately and paints so perfectly a world and the characters within it. There are writers like that who are my influences, vivid and gifted storytellers.” –H

The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

Metamorphoses by Ovid

(via Buzzfeed, The Daily Meal, Interview, Instagram, The Irish Times & Reddit)

Categories: Activists Musicians