Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan at Jack Kerouac’s Grave

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.

The two, on the Rolling Thunder tour, stopping off at Lowell’s Edson cemetery.

AG: But that’s where I got all my poetry, Mexico City Blues. You ever read that?

BD: Sure

AG: It’s my

BD: Yeah, I read this. My good friend Dave Whitaker, gave me a copy of this book

AG: When?

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.

BD: Yeah

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)….”

more Allen on Mexico City Blues here,  here and here 

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