Results for Subterranean Homesick Blues

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Jim

“It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”R.E.M.

In true rock and roll style, Jim makes a cheeky Desert Island Jukebox pick this week. As discussed above, this week marks the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Many people would have gone with a solemn, or even political track — but, as listeners know, Jim is not many people, and he can't resist choosing R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)." Jim likens the Dadaist song to Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues," a similar surreal expression of social discontent. The song comes from R.E.M.'s pre-major label era, which Jim believes is their best time period. He also offers bit of insight into one of the song's most famous lines: "Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs. Birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom!" Jim wrote the biography of rock critic Lester Bangs, and learned that this line was written after Michael Stipe and Peter Buck attended Bangs' birthday party. Hungry and poor, the young band members were hoping to get a meal out of the event, but were only offered birthday cake and jelly beans. Then an over-served Bangs insulted his fan Stipe and started a food fight. Make sense now?

Go to episode 40
features

Music of the Beat Generation

If you read On the Road in high school, you know a thing or two about the Beat movement's influence on literature. This week, Text and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll author Simon Warner wants to get you thinking about the Beat influence on rock. Forget the stereotypical bongos; Warner says Beat fathers like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac were most inspired by Harlem's avant-garde jazz invention, Bebop. Warner makes the case that the Beats influenced a whole generation of rock lyricists - Bob Dylan and John Lennon among them - to embrace a more surrealist, personal, and politically engaged approach to lyric-writing. Think of "Subterranean Homesick Blues," he says, as Beat poetry with a, well, beat. But while Ginsberg and Kerouac struck a chord with the hippie generation, it was Beat colleague William S. Burroughs who served as guru to the later musical avant-garde. 1970's punks Jim Carroll and Patti Smith, and alternative era stars like Kurt Cobain and Sonic Youth, all made pilgrimages to Burroughs' NYC bunker-apartment to pay their respects to“Old Bull Lee.”Burroughs'“cut up”writing technique may still inspire wordsmiths from Bowie to Thom Yorke, but Jim thinks it's Kerouac whose legacy may ultimately be the most lasting. It's that writer's spirit of adventure, Jim says, that continues to motivate every indie band still "on the road."

Go to episode 398