Monday, April 5, 2010

“On the Road”

Happy Monday, all! I was going to post a “Monday Morning Blues” video—a few folks on the road trip mentioned how much they liked those—but unfortunately, my left arm is probably best allowed to rest for another day or two in hopes of clearing up this muscle pull. If all goes well, I should have a blues song video up either Thursday or Friday.

In the meantime, & speaking of my recent road trip, I’ve been thinking a lot about “road writing;” & so I thought I’d share a video featuring Mr. Road Trip himself, Jack Kerouac. I first read On the Road well over 30 years ago, & reading the novel was a truly riveting experience. Of course, given some of the self-destructive habits of my ill-spent youth, I focused on aspects of the book that seemed to justify those same habits. There’s no question that Kerouac’s writing has its weaknesses: his unabashed glorification of drug use & his sexism are two big ones—there’s a certain amount of silliness to his vision as well. But having said that, I believe he’s still a writer to be reckoned with in terms of style, voice, the manner of assimilating & recounting experience, & the
overall U.S. landscape, both physical & spiritual.

When I speak about poetry & music, this reading from On the Road with Steve Allen on piano (yes, that Steve Allen!) always comes to mind. Hope you enjoy it, too.

Today's post on
Alcools is a one line poem by Apollinaire called "Chantre." The original French reads: "Et l'unique cordeau des trompettes marines" For my English version, check out Alcools!


  1. Kerouac blew me away when i was 19.I havnt read him recently.almost afraid too.would the Magic be the same?

  2. Hi Tony: I don't think it would have the same magic, but there's still a lot of poetry in his writing.

  3. I did my 12th grade book report on "On the road" 23yrs. ago and spent several yrs. hitch-hiking and seeing America on the cheap. I loved "The Dharma Bums" as well as "Desolation Angels" perhaps its time to re-visit. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Hi Craig: & welcome back! I find it particularly compelling to listen to Kerouac these days. By the way, that Knutsen lap steel on your blog looks sweet!

  5. Tony has said almost exactly what i was oing to say.I love the book so much I'm terrified to revisit it.
    I've never seen Kerouac before so was delighted to see how unsure he was, sure people unnerve me, how can anybody be sure of anything(least of all themselves) in this world if they have even half a soul? But then he found himself in his writing.Yes, I love that.

    Ps Boy, don't we really , really need several lifetimes, to move an inch, to make some sense?

  6. Kerouac is one of those icons that goes from being lionized to trashed and then lionized and trashed through many cycles. One of the oddest conversations I ever had about him was with a man in Lome, Togo, who was from Ghana and said that it was the most influential book of his life.

    That's a great clip. I met Steve Allen a few times through my job. He is under-rated on many levels, and it's not that surprising that he would have Kerouac on his show.

  7. Ladrón: I go thru phases with the beats--all in all, Kerouac is down on my list after Patchen & Burroughs & Ginsberg, & I also really like Berrigan who strikes me as a "beat" in many regards tho I suppose he's not "technically" one--also Anne Waldmann. That is a great clip--I first heard it quite a few years ago on a cd collection (maybe Rhino?) called The Beat Generation.


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