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wonders never cease Wednesday, October 21, 2009

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 21st, 2009 play list of the week: john l. kerouac, 3.12.1922 – 10.21.1969, “h

[caption id="attachment_1530" align="alignleft" width="262" caption="click to listen"]click to listen[/caption]Jack Kerouac died forty years ago today. When On The Road was published in 1959, he became the unwilling standardbearer for a literary movement. He was called the vibrant new voice of his generation and the avatar of the Beat movement, but he once proclaimed "I'm not a beatnik, I'm a Catholic." But when we open On The Road and read "The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars, and in the middle, you see the blue center-light pop, and everybody goes ahh..." we say ahh and are ready to crown him King of the Beats. His tombstone says "He Honored Life," and today we honor him. We hope he's somewhere with jazz on the radio and Neal Cassady beside him driving recklessly while riffing on Walt Whitman in some dusty old coupe. Our Play List songs are written by, about, or are inspired by Sal Paradise's alter ego. After each song, we’ve tacked on a line from his list of "30 Essentials of Spontaneous Prose."

1. "One Fast Move or I'm Gone" - Ben Gibbard and Jack Kerouac Indie stars Jay Farrar (Son Volt) and Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie, Postal Service) tackle Big Sur, setting Kerouac's prose to music in a rewarding album that was released yesterday, a follow-up soundtrack to the 2008 Kerouac biopic of the same name.
ESSENTIAL RULE #5: Something that you feel will find its own form

2. "Hey Jack Kerouac" - 10,000 Maniacs Natalie Merchant's homage to the "brightest star" of the beats and the struggles he had with his fame, in which she melodically blasts the surviving Beats "Of the San Francisco beat boys you were the favorite. Now they sit and rattle their bones and think of their blood stoned days. You chose your words from mouths of babes got lost in the wood. The hip flask slinging madman, steaming cafe flirts, in Chinatown howling at night."
ESSENTIAL RULE #27: In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness

3. "Neal Cassady" - The Weather Underground This post-punk quartet capture the spirit of the Kerouac's Dean Moriarty and Cody Pomeray. In his biography of Cassady, David Sandison calls Neal "a uniquely creative mind that somehow managed to change the course of American literature by proxy... Jack and Allen (Ginsberg) had, each in his own way, captured a little of Neal's lightning in a jar. If they would never completely understand him, they had managed to incorporate something of his extraordinary life-affirming presence in their work."
ESSENTIAL RULE #13: Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition

4. "Desolation Row" - Bob Dylan 1965's landmark Highway 61 Revisited was released five months after the publication of Desolation Angels. In addition to the tribute in his song title, Dylan lifts phrases directly from Kerouac for his lyrics, including "the perfect image of a priest," and "her sin is her lifelessness."
ESSENTIAL RULE: #2: Submissive to everything, open, listening

5. "Kerouac" - Morphine Fellow Massachusetts natives join an impressive cast of Beats, actors and musicians to set Kerouac's prose to music on 1997's Kerouac: Kicks Joy Darkness.
ESSENTIAL RULE #8: Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind

6. "Cobwebs" - Loudon Wainwright III Rufus and Martha's dad launches a diatribe against the pervasive use of the word "like" in modern speech, blaming Kerouac, Maynard T. Krebs, and the hippies for abusing its usage and corrupting his own kids' vocabularies. Ease up, grouchy, we think they turned out OK.
ESSENTIAL RULE #14: Like Proust be an old teahead of time

7. "Persecution & Restoration Of Dean Moriarty" - Aztec Two-Step The band that inspired the documentary No Hit Wonder, this folk-rock duo drew their band name from the poetry of Kerouac pal Lawrence Ferlinghetti. With lyrics earnestly delivered at a pace that would make Tom Wolfe's Holy Goof proud, they present the case for and against the protagonist of On The Road.
ESSENTIAL RULE #17: Write in recollection and amazement for yourself

8. "The Man He Used to Be" - Jerry Jeff Walker Best known for writing Mr. Bojangles, the Austin songsmith looks inward for this track, opening with "So that's where my head was at, it was in a book and a funky hat. I was on the road with Kerouac, searching for the truth." Perhaps that's what led to the night spent in jail with Mr Bojangles.
ESSENTIAL RULE #3: Try never get drunk outside yr own house

9. "The Beat(en) Generation" - The The Frontman Matt Johnson recruited ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, ex-Nick Lowe bassist James Eller and ex-ABC drummer David Palmer to the band and recorded Mind Bomb, on which this song becomes a call to arms to the listless and self-absorbed teens of the eighties. While he may not have transformed the disciples of Gordon Gecko into Kerouac and his poetic, frenetic pals, he did land a top 20 hit in the UK and the US.
ESSENTIAL RULE #19: Accept loss forever

10. "Pretty Girls Make Graves" - The Smiths A bitter but lovely tale of sexual identity confusion, Morrissey lifts the title from a line in Dharma Bums.
ESSENTIAL RULE #4: Be in love with yr life

11. MacDougal Street Blues - Joe Strummer and Jack Kerouac Another cool cut from Kerouac: Kicks Joy Darkness from another groundbreaking artist struck down before his time.
ESSENTIAL RULE #29: You're a Genius all the time

12. "On The Road" - Tom Waits About this song, Waits recalls that "Kerouac's nephew had this song of Jack's, or at least some of his words he wanted me to record. I guess Jack was at a party somewhere and snuck off into a closet and started singing into a reel-to-reel tape deck, like, 'I left New York in 1949, drove across the country...' I wound up turning it into a song, and I performed it at a memorial for Allen Ginsberg..."
ESSENTIAL RULE #6: Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind

While the rest of the essential rules might be helpful, we choose instead to close this list with the final paragraph of Kerouacs' breakthrough work, the novel that struck a chord and changed the lives of a generation of readers, On The Road:

"So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars’ll be out, and don’t you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty." 700114D


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