Tuesday, October 4, 2011

October in the Railroad Earth

October was his favorite month and the month in which he died

To really understand Kerouac's prose you need to hear him read it, so that you can hear the rhythm of his phrasing and his accent and intonations.  Once you get his voice in your head you can hear it as you read and it brings a completely new life to his books. One of his best pieces and best readings is October in the Railroad Earth with piano accompaniment by Steve Allen. The first clip is an excerpt of October in the Railroad Earth with images from the documentary What Happened to Kerouac?, second is Jack in 1959 on the Steve Allen Show where he reads from Visions of Cody, after which is the full audio of his reading of October in the Railroad Earth, featuring perhaps the best bit near the end of the piece about getting kicked out of the bar and not acting on a girls come one - "But I stood there, like a jerk......I should have played with her!"  I've also included two readings from Dr. Sax of which somewhere there exists a whole tape.  

Around 1998 I took a road trip with my friend Chris from Austin to Boston, to visit some of his friends from college. We made a side excursion to Lowell and I got to see the majority of the Kerouac related sites there including the Merrimack River, the Moody Street bridge, the house he was born in, and his grave.  I remember driving around in a light rain, sharing a half pint of whiskey as we found various places listed in the book I had, it might have even been October. We took pictures along the way but sadly the film was lost before it could be developed.


  1. Totally agree about him reading. I particularly like his haikus, one of which goes something like: 'Bee, why are you staring at me? I'm not a flower'

  2. I like his haikus too. "Crossing the football field, coming home from work, the lonely businessman."

    Sometimes when listening to his readings you can hear his own amusement or even surprise at something he's written, its endearing. If anyone out there has a copy of Kerouac reading Dr. Sax please get in touch, there's an excerpt in "What Happened to Kerouac" and its amazing stuff.