Sunday, November 6, 2011

Jack Kerouac, Kenneth Patchen and Music


I want to start this post off talking about books and seque into music at the end. I have been reading a lot since this last late summer and went through the entire Song of Fire and Ice series by George R. R. Martin, which is the series that has spawned the HBO series "Game of Thrones." Needless to say it's a great read and very addictive. Since finishing the last book up a few weeks ago, I'm finally able to dive into a lot more recent collections and half started books that have been sitting around. Right now I am reading two separate collections of Jack Kerouac, one is a short book of poems, and another is some of his very early writings, "Atop an Underwood." I came across this passage in [I Am Going to Stress a New Set of Values]:

"P.S. Whenever you get tired of everything, go down to a saloon, or a pin-ball machine house, or jump in the river. However, if you do it every day like I do, you don't get anywhere. But who wants, as Nick says, to go anywhere? And furthermore, you can get sick of everything every day like I do and be one thing:--A casual poet with no regrets, no excess baggage, and humour and intelligence and goodnight my old mad masters, so long and forget it. It is no harm. That's the idea of it all. How many times do I have to tell you. Sleep it off in bed, and when you wake up, work yourself up to a lather, world it all day, then go back to sleep it off at night, unless you have a woman with you in bed. In that case, don't sleep right away, but be sure to do so after you've spent. Good night, boys. The Grim Reaper isn't grim at all; he's a life-saver. He isn't grim because he isn't anything. . . . he is nothing. And nothing is a hell of a lot better than anything. So long, boys."

The other book that I have started up is Kenneth Patchen's "The Journal of Albion Moonlight." It is a dark and surrealistic book that involves a tale of descent into madness. Throughout the first 30-40 pages that I've read it has been changing writing styles, and referencing missing pages, and the main character's split personality taking over, with these pointed statements that are more philosophical that come out. It's an incredible read, and strangely fitting for my life right now. To hear the author reading some of the passages go here and here, which were released on folkways records (and I'm currently looking for it).

I found out about this author via John Hollenbeck. The new Claudia Quintet + 1 record features Theo Bleckmann and Kurt Elling which you can listen to some of and purchase here.
Almost all of the music on the album is Patchen's words set for either singers with this sextet. It's an incredible project and I highly recommend purchasing this CD!

I also have found now that Peter Brotzmann released an album several years ago "Be Music, Night" which is an homage to Kenneth Patchen. The group is the Chicago Tenet, which features an incredible array of Chicago's jazz/avant musicians, like Ken Vandermark, Joe Mcphee, Paul Nilssen-Love and several more. I'm still trying to get a copy of this, but you can purchase it at jazzloft's website here.

The last finding that I'm also looking up is a radio play from that Patchen worked with John Cage on called "The City Wears a Slouch Hat." You can here some of it on youtube here, and purchase it here. I don't know much about this, but I definitely will find this soon!

I will probably have some more Patchen updates from time to time, as there is a lot to check out and dig into, but enjoy the links, and purchase some of this music!

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