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Publisher's Summary

“I’m an instrument, stay in tune with me.”

In a performance that combines the personal and poetic with the literary and the lyrical, Grammy, Oscar, Emmy, and Golden Globe-winning artist Common spins something entirely new and bold for both his old-school fans and those new to one of hip-hop’s most essential voices. This is Bluebird Memories, part of Audible's Words + Music that blends storytelling, music, and performance to create a one-of-a-kind listening experience.

Written and conceived by Common with Awoye Timpo and NSangou Njikam, originally recorded live at the Minetta Lane Theatre in New York City, and backed by a world-class band including special guest appearance by Robert Glasper and an ensemble of vocalists, Bluebird Memories tracks Common’s intimate journey from childhood to manhood. At its heart, it serves as both an open letter to his estranged father and a personal meditation on the quest for greater self-understanding, self-worth, and connection to the world that surrounds him.

As a young artist, introduced to the work of literary icons from James Baldwin and Gwendolyn Brooks to Rakim and Melle Mel, Common would grow to use their works as motivation and a high-water mark for what would become his life in words. In a performance that recounts stories about growing up in Chicago, discovering hip-hop, longing for a consistent father, and his awakening into Black consciousness, the evolution of Common, as son, as man, artist, and activist, is all here - unpacked and laid bare.

At just under two hours, Bluebird Memories is constantly in motion, soaring with emotion and pulsing with raw vitality. Seamlessly blending, stretching, and playing with forms, Common slides between poetry and candid conversation, kicks into one of his classic tracks, and backs out into a moment of nearly silent reflection. For those hip-hop heads, the treat of hearing Common bounce between bars of his own self-admitted cringey party raps to rapturously reciting classic hip-hop’s most revered verses is a joy to behold. (Yes, bumping human beatbox included.) In a performance that calls forth the spirit and legacy of so many artists, thinkers, and heroes who informed both his artistry and personal philosophy, Common invites listeners to experience him in his totality. A finely tuned instrument capable of conveying a sweeping breadth of power, range, and tone. Listen to a modern icon deliver at the top of his craft.

©2020 Common (P)2020 AO Media LLC

Go Behind the Scenes of Bluebird Memories

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Our favorite moments from Bluebird Memories

The Corner
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The first record
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Leaving Chicago
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  • The Corner
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About the Co-Writer and Performer

Common (Performer, Co-Writer) is an Academy Award, Golden Globe, Emmy, and Grammy-winning artist, actor, author, and activist, who continues to break down barriers with a multitude of critically acclaimed, diverse roles, and continued success in all aspects of his career.
Common most recently toured with his new album Let Love, inspired by his work and experiences while writing his second New York Times best-selling memoir, Let Love Have the Last Word, released May 2019. He starred in the Oscar nominated film, Selma, which centered around the civil rights marches that changed America. Alongside John Legend, he won the Academy Award and Golden Globe in 2015 for Best Original Song in a Motion Picture for Glory which was featured in the film. Stand Up for Something, co-written by Common in 2017, received Oscar, Grammy, NAACP, and Critic Choice Award nominations. The anthem Letter to the Free, the end-title track to Ava Duvernay’s powerful Oscar-nominated documentary 13th, received the 2017 Emmy for Best Music and Lyrics.
For the past few years, Common has dedicated countless hours and has been deeply engaged in social justice and advocacy work around mass incarceration, mental health, and voting. After the success and impact of his Imagine Justice concert in 2017, and his Hope & Redemption Tour to eight different prisons, Common decided to establish and launch Imagine Justice as a new nonprofit in 2018. Centered at the intersection of art and activism, Imagine Justice is dedicated to leveraging the power of art to advocate for communities around the country, to fight for justice and equality, and to stand united against injustice wherever it appears.

About the Director

Awoye Timpo (Director) is a director and producer based in New York. Credits include: Pipeline (Studio Theatre), In Old Age (New York Theatre Workshop), The Loophole (Public Theater), Paradise Blue (Long Wharf Theatre), Good Grief (Vineyard Theatre), The Revolving Cycles Truly and Steadily Roll’d (Playwrights Realm), The Homecoming Queen (Atlantic Theater), Sister Son/ji (Billie Holiday Theater), Carnaval (National Black Theatre), Ndebele Funeral (59E59, South African tour, Edinburgh Festival), In the Continuum (Juilliard). She is the producer of CLASSIX, a reading series exploring classic plays by Black playwrights.

About the Co-Writer

NSangou Njikam (Co-Writer) is an actor, playwright, and Hip Hop Theatre Artist. Writing credits include Syncing Ink, When We Left pts 1 & 2, Re:Definition, and The Turn Up. Acting credits include Syncing Ink (Alley/Flea Theater), Henry V (Classical Theatre of Harlem), Re:Definition (LaMama Theater), and Deep Azure (Congo Square Theatre). NSangou is a member of the 2015 Emerging Writers Group at the Public Theater. He received his BFA in acting from Howard University. He was named NSangou in Cameroon, West Africa by the Bamum King Ibrahim Mbombo Njoya. NSangou is represented as a writer by Abrams Artist Agency. He resides in New York.

Featured Article: Tune In to Our Favorite Music Memoirs


We’ve been finding solace in stories that follow our *other* favorite thing to listen to: music. We’ve gathered a selection of pitch-perfect memoirs from music legends in a variety of genres and styles. By turns bold, brash, and moving, these listens shed light on the sold-out shows, backstage drama, and sometimes dark underbelly of the recording industry, while highlighting the charisma, energy, and artistry that had us hooked from the first soundwave.

What listeners say about Bluebird Memories

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I'm an OWW

I'm a 65 year old white woman and I LOVED everything about this book. This is a tribute to Common's dad with a few journeys and experiences along the way, and that first record that shaped his future. Loved the music. With over 1200 audiobooks in my library I don't have enough time in the day to listen to books more than once but with 1hr and 21 mins, I will be listening to this book several more times.

52 people found this helpful

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Because he was Cassian in John Wick 2

I confess, I got this Audible freebie because I recognized Common from his role as Cassian in John Wick. However, this book has nothing to do with acting. Instead, he gives you parts of performances from a three night standup montage, like a turtlenecked beatnik doing a poetry slam, only blackified. His various rap segments were okay for me, although some of them I just didn’t understand. I most enjoyed the parts where he talked about, or to, his pops; those resonated with me. If the use of the N word by an articulate and unapologetic black man makes you uncomfortable, you should skip this listen. I didn’t feel the occasional profanity was hateful or overused. Overall, as a non-black, half-white, middle aged nerd who grew up a poor local island girl, I appreciated this peek into a different life.

28 people found this helpful

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Bravo!

A wonderfully intimate experience with Common through the prism of a letter to his father. He bares his soul to the listener through his music and his musings about his life and career. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it! Well done !

18 people found this helpful

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Awesome ******

This was TRULY insightful, inspiring and filled with WISDOM. A resource for a community in need of healing and direction !!! An “UN-COMMON” use of EXCELLENCE, VISION, and freshness. I hope all who listen to “Bluebird Memories” reach out and share with someone. Thank you Common and crew.

15 people found this helpful

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I felt like I was in the Room!

what an amazing piece of art. I felt like I was in the room with Common. what an awesome lyricist. thanks so much for publishing this wonderful piece of art.

12 people found this helpful

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Amazing!!

Unlike anything I’ve heard before on Audible! So entertaining! The music is unbelievable, and the story is perfect for our times...and, well, anytime!

11 people found this helpful

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LOVE

I was excited when I saw this by Common. Always loved his music this definitely did not disappoint! 🧡

9 people found this helpful

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Great Typical Common

Much like a common album, the more you listen, the deeper you go into finding a positive outlook on oneself. I was not sure what to think, but every one of his memories made me reflect. The music is well placed and this could easily be mistaken as a Common Essential Playlist. Famous for his ode to hip hop, he now has one to his pops!

9 people found this helpful

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One decent song

This is an almost endlessly repetitive performance, apart from the beautiful song, “God is Love,” which closes the story. The theology of the song is misguided at best, but the song is lovely. Otherwise, Common is common. Why does so much hip hop sound the same?

8 people found this helpful

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Conscience HipHop Revisted

Not for BLM but I am for conscious hiphop, this was articulate and intimate, a sonic spiritual experience.

8 people found this helpful