Tag Archives: Jack Kerouac

You should be listening to Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard!

Jay Farrar (Son Volt, Uncle Tupelo) and Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service) teamed up to write and record an album for the documentary “One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s “Big Sur”.  While originally set to record a few songs, the process and collaboration was so fruitful that it turned into a full length album which is named after the movie.

With Kerouac’s connection to jazz, both Farrar and Gibbard seem to be an odd choice to write and represent the spirit of Jack.  However, given the tragic nature of the book and Kerouac’s immersion into the depths of alcoholism and debilitating depression, Farrar with his naturally dour vocal styling and proclivity to writing deep emotionally damaged lyrics was a competent selection, while Gibbard seemed an awkward fit with his more melodic voice and previous synth heavy work with The Postal Service. 

Any trepidation I had concerning the pairing was quickly assuaged as Gibbard vocals leapt off the first track “California Zephyr”.  I was amazed at how natural he sounded reciting the words of Farrar who wrote eleven of the twelve songs on the album.  Gibbard wrote the title track “One Fast Move or I’m Gone”. 

Given the inspiration for the album it is no surprise that musically, the album is steeped in Americana with acoustic, electric, & steel guitar, lap & pedal steel, harmonica, piano, and percussions.  A majority of the lyrics were taken from Kerouac’s 1962 novel “Big Sur” and Jack gets writing credit on all of the songs except Gibbard’s lyrical contribution on the title track.

The irony of this project is that as dark and damaged as Kerouac was; the album is hopeful with a vulnerable beauty etched in the music and lyrics.

Check out Jay Farrar & Ben and Ben Gibbard:



Great music awaits!

You should be listening to Son Volt!

Son Volt is the band that Jay Farrar formed upon the demise of Uncle Tupelo in 1994.  While their debut “Trace” was met with critical acclaim, as where the follow ups “Straightaways” and “Wide Swing Tremolo”, Son Volt was not as commercially successful as some of the bands that were emerging on the music scene in the late 90’s. 

While often lumped in the Alt/Country genre due to his early work with Uncle Tupelo, Farrar expanded the sound of Son Volt in to a more traditional Americana type sound.  Son Volt’s use of steel and acoustic guitars, pianos, organs, and Farrar’s lonesome vocals conjure up visions of America of long ago. The stylized texture provides an organic feel to their music and further distances them from the Alt/Country scene.  This is really evident on their latest release “American Central Dust”.

Early rumors and speculation that surrounded Son Volt’s demise were unfounded despite the solo albums and tours of Jay Farrar from 2001 – 2003.  In 2005, a retrospective was released and shortly thereafter, Farrar recruited some new band members and released “Okemah and the Melody Riot” in 2006.  As it stands today, Jay Farrar is the only original member of Son Volt. 

In 2009, Farrar team up with Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie) and recorded the album “One Fast Move Or I’m Gone” Music from Jack Kerouac’s Big Sur.

Son Volt Discography

  • Trace
  • Straightaways
  • Wide Swing Tremolo
  • A Retrospective 1995-2000
  • Okemah and the Melody Riot
  • The Search
  • American Central Dust

Top 5 Son Volt Songs according to Butler (Albums listed to right of song):

  1. Methamphetamine (The Search)
  2. Windfall (Trace)
  3. World Waits For You (Okemah and the Melody Riot)
  4. Circadian Rhythms (The Search)
  5. Back Into Your World (Straightaways)

Check out Son Volt and let me know what you think.

Son Volt’s music is available is available on iTunes, record stores and www.sonvolt.net.

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Great music awaits!