Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Two of my favorite lines & singers with books of poems

two lines that have always stuck in my mind:

a) FROM fear and loathing in las vegas (you know, the opening line)---

We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert,
when the drugs began to take hold.

b) FROM "king of rock," run-dmc

Every jam we play, we break two needles/ there's three of us,
but* we're not the Beatles

* since there were four Beatles (and three in run dmc--run, dmc, and jam master jay), you'd think the line would have been "and we're not the Beatles," but i don't think this slight ambiguity/problem detracts from the greatness of the song. the beastie boys, the 9th greatest group ever, often get more critical acclaim along with public enemy (deservedly so) but i don't think run dmc ever got their true respects. "it's like that" is a classic. at least in my strange world.

here's a question: do you know of any singers/musicians who have published books of poems? if you do, please feel free to mention them (i know there are many more than this). i'd like to compile a list.

some that come to mind off hand are:

bob dylan
henry rollins
jewel (i didn't say they had to be good poems)
billy corgan (as i said...)
mike watt (from firehose, i know he's published poems but does he have a book?)
stephen malkmus, from the 10th greatest band ever, pavement (magazines, but a book?)
alicia keys
jeff tweedy


barbara jane said...

don't forget tupac shakur, right?

and i think jill scott also has a book of poem out.

Reb said...

Suzanne Vega
Lou Reid
Art Garfunkel

Reb said...

Oh and Henry Rollins -- of course.

Lee Herrick said...

oh yes...five more good ones! i think i need to buy a suzanne vega CD. i like the songs of hers i've heard.


Lee Herrick said...

yeah, i had rollins on my first list. i like black flag, and i once saw rollins open up for pearl jam at the greek theatre in berkeley. what a show.

i think he's got quite a few books, doesn't he?

Reb said...

Oh whoops -- yeah, he has lots of book -- and has (or once had) a press and published other poets as well, like Ellyn Maybe. I think the actor Viggo Mortenson designed her book cover.

Lyle Daggett said...

Musicians who have published books of poems:

Jim Morrison -- book titled "The Lords and the New Creatures," many years ago (may have been published posthumously?)

I think Morrison's book had been reissued in a more recent edition, maybe under another title, maybe with additional poems. The Doors also issued an album, years after Morrison's death, "An American Prayer," featuring Morrison reading his poems, sometimes backed up by the band's music.


Gil Scott-Heron
Patti Smith
Leonard Cohen
Mason Williams

The lyrics to Joni Mitchell's song "Woodstock" are included in the recent poetry anthology "Blow Burn Break" (or whatever it's called) edited by Camille Paglia.

Coming at it from another direction, on her album Baptism, Joan Baez reads poems by various poets (from various places and times in the world), sometimes backed up by music. Not quite the same thing as you're asking, though in effect a poetry anthology edited and recorded by a musician.

daddy in a strange land said...

Saul Williams has two "rock-rap-spoken-word-fusion"ish albums out there.

daddy in a strange land said...

On the reverse tip also, the last album by Afro-French Francophone neo-soul sister duo Les Nubians (say that five times fast!) had guests recite poetry in French and English over music.

And English neo-soul duo Floetry works a lot of spoken word stuff into their songs.

n.l. said...

And don't forget Mike Myers character in So I Married and Axe Murderer... hey, missed you at the Valley Books Writers Conference. Here's my take on the event... Now we'll see if Valley writers truly believe in unity as I begin to put my arms around the Bakersfield art renaissance and beyond... I want to come and cover one of your literary/poet events...

pam said...

Indie land--

Damon Krukowski (formerly of Galaxie 500, now of Damon and Naomi)

Chris Stroffolino (formerly of Silver Jews, now of Continuous Peasant)

Edmund Berrigan (of I Feel Tractor)

pam said...

actually, if we want to talk publishing too, there's Exact Change, founded by Naomi Yang and Damon Krukowski

Lee Herrick said...

oh yeah, this is getting to be a REALLY good list...are there more?

nl---i was in santa barbara that weekend, but i hope the conference was good. i'll check out your entry on it...

...jeesh. how could i have forgotten morrison and saul w?

Lee Herrick said...

awesome, pam.

Lyle Daggett said...

Another one I thought of -- I guess he's better known as a poet by now -- Ed Sanders, who was also long ago a member of the Fugs.

Michelle e o said...

Alright mine doesn't count, he's an actor/visual artist. Viggo Mortensen, best known for his role on Lord Of The Rings - is a poet. I really love his poetry too, he fstarted the publishing company, Perceval Press. One of their books out is a book of photography by Dennis Hopper that looks amazing.

elbowlina said...

Ani DiFranco. It's bilingual too. One page English, one Italian (I think).

Anonymous said...

Richard Hell
Lydia Lunch
Exene from X
Jim Carroll
Shel Silverstein wrote some popular country songs so don't know if he counts :)
Tom T. Hall

shanna said...

john cage
leonard cohen
david berman (silver jews)
john hall (king missile)
todd colby (drunken boat)
mike doughty (soul coughing)
michael stipe (r.e.m.)--a coauthored book of haiku

& steve earle & nick cave have both published fiction

Lee Herrick said...


the exact change press looks really impressive. and as this list continues, i'm making little notes to myself about which i'd like to get right away---something by viggo m, michael stipe, leonard coehn and ani d (bilingual even!).

i saw jim carroll read once and he was pretty good---spoke about the basketball diaries and his poetry and his drug days. i have his book, void of course, and the first poem is really good---the title explains its focus: "8 fragments for kurt cobain."

thanks everybody for your great suggestions! feel free to keep 'em rollin in.

powerpolitics said...

Suzanne Vega CDs by mood:

quiet depression: Songs in Red and Grey

angry vengeance: 99.9 F

I think those are my two faves.