Thursday, August 27, 2009

Adapting Into Song

I just posted this at the Second Pass, too, so apologies for the triple strand of cross-promotion. But over at Paper Cuts, I've participated in their Living With Music feature with a list of songs about books and writers. A taste:
2) Stuck Between Stations, the Hold Steady. The first of two songs on this list that deal with the life of poet John Berryman, who committed suicide in 1972, at 57, by jumping off the Washington Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis. “Stuck Between Stations” begins by citing Jack Kerouac’s Sal Paradise, but it quickly moves on to describe Berryman’s suicide, when he and the devil “took a walk together” and “ended up on Washington talking to the river”: “There was that night that we thought that John Berryman could fly / But he didn’t, so he died / She said, ‘You’re pretty good with words / But words won’t save your life’ / And they didn’t / So he died.” Endlessly (though accurately) described as a great bar band, with plenty of songs that function as power ballads to various liquors, the Hold Steady is the perfect outfit to imagine Berryman as “drunk and exhausted,” how “he likes the warm feeling but he’s tired of all the dehydration.”


Blogger Mike Lindgren said...

Someone once observed of "jazz" and "brunch": two great things separately, not so great together. Same is true of "poetry" and "lyrics to songs by rock'n'roll bands." Even if it weren't, Craig Finn would get 10 bonus points for mentioning Berryman, minus several million for Kerouac.

11:11 PM  

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