Monday, September 14, 2009
Dave Treganna, Dave Parsons, Jim Carroll and Stiv Bators, NYC, 1981
He whose most well-known song was "People Who Died" has died. Poet, singer/songwriter, spokesman for a generation, Jim Carroll passed away in his home while working (writing). A heart attack took him from us on Friday, September 11, 2009. He was 60 years old.
Just about a year ago, my good friend, Dave Parsons, of Sham 69 forwarded to me that photo above, of himself, former Sham bassist, Dave Treganna, and Stiv Bators with Jim Carroll, whom we all met in NYC when the Daves and Stiv toured as The Wanderers. I took at photo backstage at the Palladium, when the Wanderers opened for the Ramones there in 1981.
You can read more about our Wandering Into Jim Carroll here on punkturns30... the link is to last year's post and memories of how Jim Carroll taught Stiv and me how to maneuver the night life in Manhattan.
We all knew who Jim Carroll was back then... The Basketball Diaries, the til-then culmination of a young life's worth of living and writing about it landed his name and his works on the mind-sets of anyone with taste who paid attention to music and literature in 1978. I had the great opportunity to see him do his first rock n roll performance that same year at the California Theatre in San Diego, CA. He opened for Patti Smith and he read from The Basketball Diaries and Patti joined him on stage, guitar in hand. Afterwards, Patti introduced me and my friends to Jim and I have a a most cherished photo (unscanned, but hanging up safe and sound in my house in California) of Patti, Jim and me together from that night.
Since then, it seemed that I'd run into Jim every 3 years or so, and he was always working on something new. Most recently, it was a winter in New York City about five years ago, we met in a book shop in NYC's Chelsea neighborhood and talked about Jack Kerouac. We talked about the new music we were listening to, talked about the state of culture, and just plain gossiped about current times. Jim Carroll was a man whose opinion took no prisoners... he was direct and lyrical at once. Just a week before talking with Jim about Kerouac, I had tea with Patti Smith and we too talked about Kerouac (it was the occasion of his birth and the two poets contributed testimonials which I recorded for a radio program). Full circle.
It was Patti Smith whose work inspired me to stick to my guns, and it was Patti Smith who encouraged Jim Carroll in his poetry and music.
But it was always Jim Carroll who, for me, helped me understand the balance of dreams and reality... not just in his work - his words written for all to read, but in his words spoken directly to me.
The world has lost a unique voice - RIP, Jim Carroll.
NY Times Obit
NY Times Memoir