The Music Slut


31.8.07

Ben Gibbard Explains Kerouac Fascination

SF Weekly reports: *Like many other songwriters before him, Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie is a huge Kerouac enthusiast who has written a couple of tracks in tribute to the author. But it's interesting that while On the Road was an early favorite for this eloquent lyricist, it's Kerouac's later, darker novel Big Sur that Gibbard relates to most these days. "In Big Sur, Kerouac's in his mid-30s and he's already kind of over the mythology that's been created around him since On the Road," says Gibbard. "He's a woeful alcoholic and everywhere he used to haunt is now overrun with these wannabes. He's cynical and he's drinking more and at some point [Lawrence] Ferlinghetti says, 'I have this cabin and you should go down there and just dry out for a couple weeks.'" The book shows Kerouac in a struggle to pull meaning out of his fame, his drinking, and his friendships. "He's trying to re-create all these moments in his life that are so important to him, but now they're so long gone it's kind of pathetic," adds Gibbard.

It just so happens that Gibbard has embarked on a two-week solo songwriting trip to the Big Sur cabin where Kerouac wrote his novel named after the picturesque beach community. He lucked into the rental by taking part in a documentary about Big Sur produced by Kerouac's nephew and so far involving such luminaries from the writing and music worlds as Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure, Tom Waits, and Jay Farrar. At 31, Gibbard talks candidly about the arrested development many artists — musicians and otherwise — realize they've stumbled into once they leave their 20s behind. The parties and the travel and the excitement of youth get a little more complicated once you hit an age when your peers are worrying about diapers, marriages, and mortgages. "I don't want to be overdramatic about it, but I'm starting to see a lot of my bad habits get the best of me," Gibbard admits. "Living this life in the same sorta way that Kerouac lived ... you get to hang out at shows and drink and you're able to not really face reality and adulthood the way most of my friends are."*

Read the rest of the article here.

MP3: The Postal Service - Sleeping In

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