Sunday, November 27, 2016

Rock Lit 101

More than any other authors, Jack Kerouac and Charles Bukowski are heralded by rock's singer/songwriters. There are others of course and a myriad of songs based on literature and literary figures, but from Bono to Tom Waits, more influence seems to arise from these two writers than any others.

 "Where we going, man?" 

"I don't know but we gotta go." Then here came a gang of young bop musicians carrying their instruments out of cars. They piled right into a saloon and we followed them. They set themselves up and started blowin There we were! The leader was a slender, drooping, curly-haired, pursy-mouthed tenorman, thin of shoulder, draped loose in a sports shirt, cool in the warm night, self-indulgence written in his eyes, who picked up his horn and frowned in it and blew cool and complex and was dainty stamping his foot to catch ideas, and ducked to miss others--and said, "Blow," very quietly when the other boys took solos. Then there was Prez, a husky, handsome blond like a freckled boxer, meticulously wrapped inside his sharkskin plaid suit with the long drape and the collar falling back and the tie undone for exact sharpness and casualness, sweating and hitching up his horn and writhing into it, and a tone just like Lester Young himself. "You see, man, Prez has the technical anxieties of a money-making musician, he's the only one who's well dressed, see him grow worried when he blows a clinker, but the leader, that cool cat, tells him not to worry and just blow and blow--the mere sound and serious exuberance of the music is all he cares about. He's an artist. He's teaching young Prez the boxer. Now the others dig!!" The third sax was an alto, eighteen-year-old cool, contemplative young Charlie-Parker-type Negro from high school, with a broadgash mouth, taller than the rest, grave. He raised his horn and blew into it quietly and thoughtfully and elicited birdlike phrases and architectural Miles Davis logics. These were the children of the great bop innovators. 

                                                                                                       - On the Road, Kerouac

I was sitting in a bar on Western Avenue. It was around midnight and I was in my usual confused state. I mean, you know, nothing works right: the women, the jobs, the no jobs, the weather, the dogs. Finally you just sit in a kind of stricken state and wait like you're on the bus stop bench waiting for death. Well, I was sitting there and here comes this one with long dark hair, a good body, sad brown eyes. Ididn't turn on for her. I ignored her even though she had taken the stool next to mine when there were a dozen other empty seats. In fact, we were the only ones in the bar except for the bartender. She ordered a dry wine. Then she asked me what I was drinking. "Scotch and Water." 

"Give him a scotch and water," she told the barkeep. Well that was unusual. She opened her purse, removed a small wire cage and took some little people out and sat then on the bar. They were all around three inches tall and they were alive and properly dressed. There were four of them, two men and two women. "They make these now," she said, "they're expensive. They cost around $2,000 apience when I got them. They go for around $2,400 now. I don't know the manufacturing process but it's probably against the law." 

The little people were walking around on the top of the bar. Suddenly one of the little guys slapped one of the little women across the face. "You bitch!" he said, "I've had it with you!" 

"No, George, you can't," she cried, "I love you! I'll kill myself! I've got to have you!" 

"I don't care," said the little guy, and he took out a tiny cigarette and lit it.

"I've got a right to live." 

"If you don't want her," said the other little guy, "I'll take her. I love her." 

"But I don't want you, Marty. I'm in love with George." 

"But he's a bastard, Anna, a real bastard!" 

"I know, but I love him anyhow." The little bastard then walked over and kissed the other little woman. "I've got a triangle going," said the lady who had bought me the drink. "That's Marty and George and Anna and Ruthie. George goes down, he goes down good. Marty's kind of square." 

"Isn't it sad to watch all that? Er, what's your name?" 

"Dawn. It's a terrible name. But that's what mothers do to their children sometimes." 

"I'm Hank. But isn't it sad..." 

"No, it isn't sad to watch it. I haven't had much luck with my own loves, terrible luck really..." 

"We all have terrible luck." 

"I suppose. Anyhow, I bought these little people and now I watch them, and it's like having it and not having any of the problems." 

                                                                                                        No Way to Paradise - Bukowski