Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan at Jack Kerouac’s grave-site. We’ve featured this legendary encounter before. But, in the context of the new Martin Scorsese Dylan movie, we figured to feature it again.
AG: But that’s where I got all my poetry, Mexico City Blues. You ever read that?
AG: It’s my favorite..book
BD: Yeah, I read this. My good friend Dave Whitaker, gave me a copy of this book
BD: In Minneapolis in 1959. I remember when David gave me this book it just blew a hole in my mind
AG: Really? – [reads] “What’s been buried in the grave?/Dust..”
BD: ..“Perfect dust?”
AG: “Perfect dust in time.” [from 204th Chorus] – He wrote a lot about being dead. “Once I went to a movie/ At midnight, 1940, Mice/ And Men, the name of it,/ The Red Block Boxcars/ Rolling by (on the Screen)/ Yessir/ life/ finally/ gets/ tired/ of/ living – / – On both occasions I had wild/ Face looking into lights/Of Streets where phantoms/ Hastened out of sight/ Into Memorial Cello Time” (from 54th Chorus)
BD: Oh yeah. Here’s one (231st Chorus) – “Dead and don’t know it,/ Living and do/ The living have a dead idea./ A person is a living idea/ after death, a dead idea/ ….When rock becomes air/ I will be there.”
AG; “..I will be there” – And he’s here.
BD: Yes. This is where he is.
AG: Yeah, the rock has become air.
AG: Sit down a minute, relax…
BD: Yeah, it’s not everday that….
BD (later): Kerouac – “He Honored Life”. I had to read everything again that Kerouac wrote (not that I did, but I thought about it differently). All of a sudden, “On The Road“ – he was talking about “the Road of Life.”
Allen recalls the day in a letter written to his father:
“Beautiful day with Dylan in Lowell Mass, beginning early afternoon visiting Kerouac’s grave plot and reading the stone, ”He honored the world [sic]” – We stood in the November sun brown leaves flying in wind, & read poems from Mexico City Blues, then we sat down, Dylan played my harmonium, Peter beside him, and we traded lines improvising a song to Kerouac underground beneath grass and stone. Then Dylan played Blues chords on his guitar while I improvised a ten stanza song about Jack looking down with empty eyes from clouds – Dylan stopped guitar to stuff a brown leaf in his breast pocket while I continued solo voice and he picked up his guitar to pluck it on the beat perfect to the end of my stanza – little celestial inspired ditty on Kerouac’s grave – all recorded for movie (sic)….”