Jack Kerouac & Ben Gibbard: More intersections

While I’m still thinking of it, in 2009, Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and Jay Farrar of Uncle Tupelo (and Son Volt) wrote and recorded an album of songs for a documentary about Jack Kerouac, using lines Kerouac wrote in his novel Big Sur.

I’ve always thought this was a cool idea, but I think some of my interest comes from not being able to trust it. Like, the songs are catchy enough, in that Death-Cab-let’s-go-sit-in-the-sun-is-my-hair-perfectly-mussed sort of way, but the more you turn it over, the more problematic it is.

Did Kerouac get a credit? Does this really feel like something he had in mind or would have put his name on? Like, I’m sure Kerouac was aware of Woody Guthrie, but jazz tends to figure much more prominently in his work, and whether or not the songs are good, they’re linked to him now, whether or not he would’ve wanted them to be.

So what does that make One Fast Move Or I’m Gone, if not some sort of bizarre tribute album, a posthumous addendum to Kerouac’s published works he had no say in? What is music taken from prose, configured into a style that wouldn’t have been available to the original writer?


ee cummings and a slight change of voice

Amazing, all the unexpected changes a simple thing like switching medium can wreak upon a piece.

Here’s ‘the sky was’ by ee cummings, as read by a Librivox volunteer.

It`s a good poem, front-to-back. The reader’s voice is really interesting; the way he hangs onto the word ‘spouting,’ the recording slowing then rushing forward to the hard, almost over-enunciated “End of poem. This recording is in the public domain” like hitting a wall, stopped dead.

The voice can do wonderful things for a poem, that’s for sure; one of the main tenets of an education in poetry seems to be that you haven’t really gotten a poem until you’ve heard it out loud.

But is poetry truly an aural medium anymore? With the advent of the typewriter, poets like ee cummings were able to turn poetry into something much more visual, into statements and shapes and lines and curves.

Each time a piece is converted, from language to text to type to .mp3, pre tag or animated .js function, it needs to be reconsidered–because whether a little or a lot, it’s changed and is different.

Check out ‘the sky was’ on a page here

What do you think of the reading now?

PS Librivox is a fantastic source for free public-domain audiobooks. Some of the titles are a little obscure, as are some of the readers, but that kind of makes it better.

Progress – Revision 1

Start. Shoes,

Soaked-through canvas Dundas to Manning like I was never allowed to wear

When I was younger past the knocked-down apartment, or maybe it’s a school. Low tops finally feeling

Or beginning feeling up toCollege like

Bad ideas, like I’m at Crawford trying

To write myself back into Ossington all the songs

I used to know.


Some interesting projects in the works this fall. I’m going to try to figure out a way to sync this piece with some sort of geography or map or something. If I can figure it out, it’ll be pretty cool, I think. Check back. Maybe in a few weeks this’ll be more than something I thought up on the walk home.

Found Poem: The Legitimate Years

We enter sound. Of watches the bling road had off for all, making shops to shit in 3-Tom’s room, loosely paused but nodded, crushed haltingly ahead of a waist, acting drama of breath and pattern. Titanium gave his pocket to the watches’ ambush. Of it, replica said, “Its move had been with a sword of paper.” Prickled on the deeper Chanel, only gone but colored and now grumbled the camphor to tell his ligne.

It climbed like Citizen, what looked like leather in watches.

By Patek, pocket of watches deepened elastic. The large Kenneth yells to be me – above again. Watch says, “Sinatra was but raised,” and there leapt up as stars of frank nights.

There had been six loose souls–replicas–that, when consumed not unlike skip belts, sang mason bell noises. Lilies don’t point large, but pit rides can’t. Then came a calypso; it noticed he, the sightless watching them, waiting them. Then such again hovered the watch’s quieted basement against the life and the chant that ships like. The very open things the doctor was on, off, even trying at her Galileo and interrupting the past– the Ray Ban Aviators of the ridiculous edge was in his several hands.

He was the legitimate years and the muerto from leafy presence – ceased about the fuel – watches and had the rent, only was his girlfriend’s. Brighton seemed he as you. And reluctantly to blow living down but far, his – its louis consoles I listen in replica and vuitton dad.

Paco wildly at to be his Rabanne and watches cars. Freestyle said his watches and she exploded, since smashing, into the even present home detonated to vice. He moved on the belt to their replica Stewart open, watches knocked.

Replica was beyond belt because a small mantilla had, shudderingly, borne way down where he gazed, bringing her towards the address that willed street but wreckage. Him had as swiss whispered to meet an army for both ambassador-announced watches – company, the man gave front to it. He shook there. The kenneth by cole hidden took and sounded the men, a torch that came killer’s crashing later as the flood.

I play it to figure he died some jersey. It would spark here. He hear him, replica. With radio, watches read away as keel. Himself had no school watches and said no shot. Him his star in handbags to be I, and himself said being thankfully the bone he lifted concerned. Replica. Youth – was sliding might thank dressed of this wonderful replica of a football jerseys.

Driving April Nights

(skip ahead to 44 seconds in the video before you start reading)

The tires break free easily

after spring rain, that sound of sand

being thrown

up against the inside of the wheel well as the

car skims the road

and you drift




feet before everything catches and

snaps back, latches

and joints creaking

a little in sudden focus. Windows

down, feel the night

brush your knuckles, get

underneath your nails, the same

stiffness in your fingers as the suspension.  This cold won’t leave

that arthritic left hand

for days but

for now, turn

the music up and let the engine

cook a little

before shifting into fourth. This is

what is; what you need.

In The Service Of The Story: Poetics, Songwriting & Robert Service

Yeah; I put the obvious joke in the title. It’s out of the way now. Stay with me. We’re going somewhere cool.

I like to think that a lot of people go into the arts not for the paycheque (meager) or the notoriety (fleeting) but for the sakes of the stories. They simply don’t get the satisfaction of telling stories, from start to finish, in any other possible career they may come across. All of our modern modes of art and culture come back, more or less, to that one need: to serve the story, and I’ve found the heavy hitters of each mode or method of creating art—because the tendency can be channeled in many different ways, crossing facts, films, fiction and poetry—tend to all be obsessed with the concept of story.

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