Dave Housley is one of the founding editors of Barrelhouse, which if you aren’t reading, WHY AREN’T READING BARRELHOUSE? He’s the author of Ryan Seacrest Is Famous, a collection of short fiction that got called “hilarious” sometimes, and also “consistently engrossing, entertaining, and exciting,” and some other nice stuff that you can check out here.
Here’s a mix of bands, people, and songs that literally mix rock and literature. This is in honor of the upcoming (at AWP! Probably!) new issue of Barrelhouse – the Sex, Drugs, and Rock issue. Also in shameless and rather senseless pre-promotion for my upcoming collection, If I Knew the Way, I Would Take You Home, a collection of rock-related stories that’s coming out from Dark Sky Books next year. Here goes:
Jim Carroll was just a bad motherfucker. He was a writer, poet, and rock musician. His memoir “The Basketball Diaries” is a cult classic (forget the Leonardo DiCaprio movie version, please). This song is the most well known from the Jim Carroll Band. I prefer the Drive by Truckers version, and it allows me to sneak another literary band into the mix.
An awesome rocker who has published two novels. PLUS, there’s this picture of Nick reading Jill Alexander Essbaum’s book of poetry, Harlot. Jill has an essay in the new Barrelhouse about following Nick Cave around Europe in the wake of the breakup of a long term relationship. It’s awesome.
Steve Earle is an amazing singer and songwriter. Plus, he played Waylon on The Wire, the greatest television show ever, and a novel in and of itself. But Steve Earle is also a writer of fiction. He published a book of short stories, Doghouse Roses, in 2001. And here’s a story of his, “Wheeler County,” from the Barcelona Review.
First off, James McMurtry is the son of Larry McMurtry, who, for somebody who has sold a billion books, including The Last Picture Show and Lonesome Dove, and won an Oscar – an Oscar! – for his work on the adaptation of Brokeback Mountain, still seems underrated. Second, James McMurtry writes literate, affecting songs that still kind of rock. Any one of his songs could serve as evidence, but i like Too Long in the Wasteland, if only for this line: “didn’t mean to be like that, didn’t mean to break the rules, but whiskey don’t make liars it just makes fools, so I didn’t mean to say it, but I meant what I said.”
Sorry for the little lead-in here. It’s the best version I could find. This song is from the album “One Fast Move or I’m Gone,” which is a collection of songs created for a documentary about Jack Kerouac and the times surrounding the writing of the novel “Big Sur.”
The Hold Steady
Okay, this is going to be a section in itself. For good reason!
And then there’s “Stuck Between Stations,” which opens with a Kerouac reference (“there are nights when I think that Sal Paradise was right”) and closes with the death of John Berryman (“she said you’re pretty good with words, but words won’t save your life and they didn’t so he died”).
And then there’s “Cattle and the Creeping Things,” which is mainly about junkies and the bible, and is part of what is essentially a novel in stories told as a rock and roll album, and was the only (to my knowledge) song that was ever annotated by NPR.