Jack Kerouac opened a lot of doors for me. I read On the Road as a senior in high school, most likely inspired by my obsession with Bob Dylan at the time. I tried to read as much Kerouac as I could get my hands on, which was actually very little. I grew up in a small town full of narrow minds.
There is never just one door to one destination. I can't chart a specific course that led me to Dylan, then to Kerouac, to the Beat Generation and all the "angel-headed hipsters." I brought away a lot of things from learning about the Beats, some of it good (reading and writing) and some not so great (excessive drinking and a 4 pack a day cigarette habit). Most of the bad things have fallen by the wayside, thankfully. Most of the favorable things remain; the voracious reading, the aspiration to write, the interest in Zen and other forms of Buddhism.
And then there's jazz, specifically Bop. John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk, Charlie Parker. They all inspire the Word inside me, striving to get out.
Kerouac and the Beat Generation influenced the literary world in so many ways. Many of them, Kerouac included, never lived to realize how much of an influence they were and still are. Kerouac, despite all his flaws and misdirections, was The Word Made Flesh.
So I present to you a playlist. I did not curate this list. I think I will make that an endeavor for later. I think it fairly represents much of the jazz music that Kerouac and his contemporaries listened to. Thanks to Ariana Lara for compiling this playlist.
I hope you enjoy it. And remember, turn up the volume!