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!
Kind of Blue - Miles Davis
Presented without comment, because the album speaks for itself.
Personnel on Kind of Blue include:
With personnel like this, the only thing you can do is, well, turn up the volume!
I have fallen in love with TedEd videos. They are short videos that cover a variety of subjects: Math, History, Literature for starters. Most of them are available on YouTube. In fact, it was the Literature videos that inspired me to make the Onerous Reading List. They have sparked my interest in reading quite a few books that I probably would never read (or have never read). Today I present this video, Why You Should Read Kurt Vonnegut. I have read several Vonnegut books since high school. This video makes me want to re-read them. I am not one of those "life is too short to re-read books" people. I have read Bram Stoker's Dracula countless (at least ten) times since I was in elementary school. Each time I get something I didn't catch on previous readings.
So Vonnegut, yes, by all means. Read him. You might like it.
And so it goes...
.Moanin' is what I play when I want to get my brain (and to a lesser degree, body) moving around. It's the perfect way to start a day. According to Wikipedia, This was Blakey's first album for Blue Note in several years, after a period of recording for a number of different labels, and marked both a homecoming and a fresh start. Originally the LP was self-titled, but the instant popularity of the bluesy opening track "Moanin'" (by pianist Bobby Timmons) led to its becoming known by that title.
Originally released in 1959 on the Blue Note label, personnel include Art Blakey on drums, Lee Morgan on trumpet, Benny Golson on tenor sax, the aforementioned Bobby Timmons on piano, and Jymie Merritt on bass.
So sit back, but I dare you to try to relax. This is not one of those kind of jazz albums. And as always, turn up the volume!
I hope you enjoy this album as much as I do, even if your neighbors don't...
Ray Bradbury's dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 is the first book I felt I should read from my Onerous Reading List. Perhaps because I have read it before, years ago, probably in high school. I felt is was a way to ease into the task of the list.
I read this passage this morning as I started my day, and wanted to share it. Although the book was published in 1953, it still holds the same truths today. Bradbury wrote it as a warning, and one that we have apparently taken for granted.
Fight Evil, Read Books!
Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx (October 2, 1890 – August 19, 1977) was an American comedian, actor, writer, stage, film, radio, and television star. He is generally considered to have been a master of quick wit and one of America's greatest comedians. He made 13 feature films as a team with his siblings the Marx Brothers, of whom he was the third-born. (from Wikipedia)
He is high on my list of personal heroes. One of my goals in life is to make sure more people know who he was and how much influence he and his brothers were on modern comedy.