Category Archives: Jack Kerouac

Live: The Dylan-Kerouac Connection

Jack Kerouac (left) and Bob Dylan.

To celebrate Bob Dylan’s birthday, a very special event, “The Dylan-Kerouac Connection,” will be held in Berkeley, CA on Friday, May 18, 2018.

Former Rolling Stone Senior Writer/ West Coast Music Editor Michael Goldberg and acclaimed Bay Area singer/guitarist Johnny Harper will be collaborating on a night of words about and music by Bob Dylan.

Goldberg will read from his new essay, “Bob Dylan’s Beat Visions (Sonic Poetry),” which has just been published in the book “Kerouac On Record” (Bloomsbury). Harper will perform exciting solo versions of “Desolation Row,” “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” Mr. Tambourine Man,” “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall,” “Like a Rolling Stone” and more!

The two set evening will begin at 7:30 pm at The Art House Gallery & Cultural Center, 2905 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA. Doors open at 6:30 pm.

Goldberg’s essay focuses on how Jack Kerouac and other Beat writers had a profound influence on the songwriting of Bob Dylan. In reviewing “Kerouac On Record,” Mojo magazine wrote: “Among the strongest in a strong lot are Michael Goldberg’s examination of Dylan’s lit roots and Kerouac’s own musicological piece — ‘The Beginning Of Bop’ – that attempts to capture jazz in words – and succeeds.”

Johnny Harper is a well-known Bay Area singer, lead guitarist, songwriter, bandleader, arranger, and producer of recordings and concerts.

Harper has been known, for many years, for leading rockin’ bands (Johnny Harper & Carnival and the earlier Hot Links) specializing in the joyous, upbeat, and funky New Orleans R&B sound – the music of artists like Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, the Meters/ Neville Brothers, Professor Longhair, Fats Domino, and many more. He lived in New Orleans for several years at one point, soaking up the Crescent City’s magic first-hand.

In addition to his work in bands, Johnny is a powerful solo performer, accompanying himself in complex lead/rhythm and finger-picking styles on electric and acoustic guitars. He is a veteran performer in a wider range of American roots music styles – blues and gospel, vintage rock and classic country, R&B/ soul, traditional and contemporary folk, and more. He is an expert on the music of The Band, and knows over 100 Bob Dylan songs! And he is a born storyteller whose comments on the music are by turns moving and highly entertaining.

The show will take place at: The Art House Gallery & Cultural Center, 2905 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA. Suggested donation: $15.00 – $25.00

For additional info, please contact Johnny Harper: jjmusic@ix.netcom.com

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild post –

Bob Dylan’s Beat Visions – A Rock’s Back Pages Excerpt

We’ve known for years that Bob Dylan borrowed melodies from older songs, and that particular songs and poems inspired him to write his own lyrics. In a nearly 12,000 word essay in the just published book, “Kerouac On Record: A Literary Soundtrack,” I detail just how extensively Dylan made use of Jack Kerouac’s writing in some of the songs Dylan wrote for Highway 61 Revisited.  You can read an excerpt from my essay at Rock’s Back Pages.

Here’s a bit of what you’ll find there:

‘No rhyme, all cut-up, no nothing, except something happening, which is words’

I couldn’t have written those songs back then. If I had just come out and sung “Desolation Row’ five years ago I probably would have been murdered – Bob Dylan to Nat Hentoff, autumn 1965, unpublished interview for Playboy

Following the 3 May 1965 publication of Jack Kerouac’s Desolation Angels, the publisher, Coward- McCann, a subsidiary of G. P. Putnam’s Sons, ran full-page ads in the Sunday Times Book Review, the daily New York Times, the New York Review of Books and elsewhere. If you were in New York, and dug Jack Kerouac, it would have been hard not to know that the “King of the Beats’ had a new novel in the stores.

Hi Lo Ha (the house Bob Dylan had just bought in Woodstock, New York, was where Dylan said he wrote the rest of Highway 61 Revisited in the six weeks between the 15 and 16 June sessions in Manhattan where “Like a Rolling Stone” (which he’d written in early June) was recorded, and the late July and early August sessions at which the rest of the Highway 61 Revisited album was completed. (Dylan, ever the poet, said that in one interview, but in another with Jann Wenner for Rolling Stone he said he wrote the Highway 61 song “Desolation Row” “in the back of a taxicab” in New York.)

More interesting than where the songs that comprise Highway 61 Revisited were written is that just six weeks after Desolation Angels was published, Dylan used the book as a major source of raw material for his new songs. “Desolation Row” took the first half of its title from Kerouac”s new book, and Dylan seems to have gotten the idea for the song’s main theme from Kerouac as well. In Desolation Angels, Kerouac writes about “Surrealistic Street,” and describes a wild cast of characters that he sees out on skid row. What is “Desolation Row,” as Dylan describes it in his song, if not a dark, at times horrific version of Kerouac”s “Surrealistic Street”?…

Read the excerpt here and buy the book here.

Cover of “Kerouac On Record.”
– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

How Jack Kerouac Influenced Bob Dylan & More

Cover of the upcoming “Kerouac On Record.”

In a 12,000 word essay, “Bob Dylan’s Beat Visions (Sonic Poetry),” that appears in the upcoming book, “Kerouac On Record: A Literary Soundtrack,” I explore how Bob Dylan was profoundly influenced by the Beat writers, and especially Jack Kerouac.

The book is being published by Bloomsbury and will reach book stores online and off on March 8, 2018. Rock’s Back Pages will be publishing an excerpt from my essay, and the April issue of Mojo magazine (see full review below) includes a rave review that says in part: “Among the strongest in a strong lot are Michael Goldberg’s examination of Dylan’s lit roots and Kerouac’s own musicological piece — ‘The Beginning Of Bop’ – that attempts to capture jazz in words – and succeeds.”

Nice to be mentioned in the same sentence as Kerouac!

In addition my Dylan piece, I also have an interview with writer (and one time rock critic) Richard Meltzer in which he talks at length about Kerouac.

The book also contains essays on the influence of Kerouac on a number of musicians including Tom Waits, the Grateful Dead, Jim Morrison, Van Morrison, Patti Smith and others. And there are excellent pieces about the influence of jazz on Kerouac’s writing style.

As we get closer to the publication date I’ll share more about this fascinating book.

Here’s the Mojo review in full:

Review in the April issue of Mojo.
  • A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –