Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard to Release Album Inspired by Jack Kerouac Novel, Everyone Else to Laugh At Them

08/13/2009 3:40 PM |


Now that Jeopardy has gotten hip to the indie rock, I suppose moving forward I should make a concerted effort to be less easily surprised by things. But when I get a press release telling me that Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard has teamed up with Son Volt’s Jay Faraar to make a record inspired by the novel Big Sur by Jack Kerouac, well, I can’t just go ahead and play it cool, now can I?

No, I cannot, because this shit is ridiculous. It’s true, though: the record, out October 20th, is called One Fast Move or I’m Gone, and it will feature 12 songs co-written by the two musicians, with lyrics lifted directly from the novel. My first inclination here is to roll my eyes, of course, but there are actually some really beautiful passages in Big Sur, and I’m hoping Farrar doesn’t ruin them with his awkward and lazy phrasing, which has become more and more problematic over the past few years.

I also hope Gibbard gives Farrar a makeover. And maybe lets him hang out with Zooey Deschanel a little bit. I bet old Jay would like that.

Oh, and I hope Farrar tells Gibbard its far too early for him to publicly state his affinity for a book about growing old and becoming burnt out, because he’s only 31 years old.

Full press release after the jump.



One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur, a new album featuring 12 original songs composed and performed by Jay Farrar of Son Volt and Benjamin Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie—with lyrics based on the prose of Jack Kerouac’s landmark 1962 novel Big Sur—is set for an October 20 release on F-Stop/Atlantic Records along with a feature-length documentary of the same title in which both Gibbard and Farrar appear.

Gibbard and Farrar, having never previously met, discovered a mutual kinship in their passion for Kerouac’s work while recording several songs for the documentary, produced by Kerouac Films.

After the initial San Francisco recording session in July 2007, they decided to develop the project further to create an album using Kerouac’s own words from the book as the lyrics.

Big Sur is an evocative account of a time in Jack’s life when he’d “come undone,” both emotionally and spiritually. He escapes to a cabin in Big Sur to confront his inner demons and find a modicum of peace by the sea.

Gibbard stayed in the original cabin Kerouac wrote about, to compose songs for his band’s 2008 Grammy-nominated album, Narrow Stairs. For many years, Jay Farrar’s songwriting has been inspired and influenced by Kerouac’s compositional style.

Jim Sampas, (Badlands, Kerouac—kicks joy darkness) is executive producer of the album. The documentary, One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur, is directed by Curt Worden and produced by Gloria Bailen and Jim Sampas of Kerouac Films. The film features appearances by writers, poets, actors and musicians including, Tom Waits, Patti Smith, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Sam Shepard. The album and film will be released on October 20, the day before the 40th anniversary of Kerouac¹s death, as a stand alone CD, a CD/DVD package, a limited edition boxed set packaged with the novel, a 40-page book on the documentary and the CD/DVD. The album will additionally be released on vinyl.

Full track listing here:

1. California Zephyr
2. Low Life Kingdom
3. Willamine
4. All In One
5. Breathe Our Iodine
6. These Roads Don’t Move
7. Big Sur
8. One Fast Move Or I¹m Gone
9. Final Horrors
10. Sea Engines
11. The Void
12. San Francisco

7 Comment

  • The last Death Cab album already had a song about Big Sur and Kerouac. What’s his obsession with him suddenly.

  • He finished writing the album in the same cabin where Kerouac stayed when he wrote the book.

  • This is sorta like Mermaid Avenue, except that Woody Guthrie > Jack Kerouac, Jeff Tweedy > Jay Farrar, and Billy Bragg > Ben Gibbard. (Unless Tweedy is > Gibbard and Bragg is > Farrar. Or maybe it’s not anything like Mermaid Avenue. Whatevs.)

  • I can’t even look at those dudes.

  • What a pretentious article Mr. Conklin. This is the soundtrack for a documentary about Kerouac and the book Big Sur. Farrar and Gibbard decided to flesh it out and make it a proper album. I’ve heard two of the songs and they are fantastic. I’m pretty sure nobody will be laughing at them, but you might want to grow up a bit. Unless being an ass is good for your writing career. Then, by all means…

  • @JS:

    Actually, this article is the exact opposite of “pretentious.” It in fact implies that its subjects are laughably pretentious. A better word for you to have used would have been “boorish”, or “anti-elitist”. Better luck next time.

  • Kinda like saying “Whatevs”?