‘Setlists For Young Voices’ Auctions Off Famous Setlists to Benefit Teen Writers

Patti Smith - Photo courtesy of Skavlan
Patti Smith - Photo courtesy of Skavlan


Original setlists from Patti Smith, REM and Janelle Monáe’s upcoming Coachella performance will go on the auction block to benefit programs for young writers.

“Setlists For Young Voices​” aims to benefit programs for young writers by auctioning off about 100 setlists on April 22. Artists include The Who, Rush, Maxwell, Toro y Moi, The Pretenders, Aimee Mann, Bhi Bhiman, Wilco, Josh Ritter, Def Leppard, Andrew Bird, The Coup, Jim James, Death Cab for Cutie, Thao Nguyen, the Dixie Chicks, Sigur Ros, Allison Moorer and Shelby Lynne, Steely Dan, Nine Inch Nails, and more.

‘Setlists For Young Voices” is the brainchild of novelist, screenwriter, and music lover Nick Hornby, co-founder of Ministry of Stories, a youth writing center in London.

“One of my friends used to stand at the front of the show so he could read the set list and call out the name of the next song. It really used to annoy the band,” Hornby said. “So this is a way to satisfy your music-geek side without aggravating your favorite musicians.”

sigur ros

Hornby called on novelist Dave Eggers, co-founder of 826 Valencia, a youth writing center in San Francisco. Soon, with the help of novelist Michael Chabon, Setlists for Young Voices was born.

Proceeds will go to the Ministry of Stories, as well as The International Congress of Youth Voices, a new event created to connect extraordinary young writers from around the world.

This year’s event takes place in San Juan, Puerto Rico in early August, and will feature 140 of the world’s boldest teen writers and activists.

“We’re hoping to raise about $50,000,” Eggers said. “That will go a long way at the Ministry of Stories, and will help fly all our International Congress delegates to Puerto Rico.”

Proceeds will also help Jim James, the singer-songwriter behind My Morning Jacket, start a center like 826 Valencia in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. The Young Authors Greenhouse has been operating for three years now, and is building a home base for its programs.

REM - Courtesy image
REM – Courtesy image

Starting on April 7, bidders will have 10 days to try to snag the following:

• Three setlists from Rush’s 2013 Clockwork Angels tour (the band’s penultimate tour) and one from the Sweden Rock Festival in 2013, the first festival Rush had played in years.

• Two from REM’s 1989 tour, signed by all four original band members (!). One is a setlist complete with Peter Buck’s handwritten remark, “I don’t believe I made a mistake this night”?  

• Five – that’s right, five – recent setlists handwritten (beautifully!) by Patti Smith (and always on unusual stationery).

• One from Toro y Moi this year at SXSW, which he typed up as a note on his iPhone and then printed out on a 8.5” x 11” sheet of paper and wrote on.

• A Pete Townshend-signed Who setlist from a 2016 show at the Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City.

• Not to mention setlists from Film School, Matt Nathanson, Beirut, The Lumineers, and dozens more!

To see a preview of the auction go to ​youthwriting.org/bid.​ Bidding begins April 7.

For more information about the youth writing centers, visit:

– The Ministry of Stories (www.ministryofstories.org)

– International Congress of Youth Voices (​www.internationalcongressofyouthvoices.com​)

– The International Alliance of Youth Writing Centers (www.youthwriting.org)