Monday, September 14, 2009

Jim Carroll Died

Jim Carroll is dead: cue a flash flood of awkward headlines referencing that death-haunted hit single, "People Who Died." That song, truthfully it's an elegy set to music, haunted my ten-year old mind. It's not a song I re-visit often but I still know every world by heart and, like hearing that line, "We've traced the calls; they're coming from inside the house!", any reminder of it sets my entire limbic system buzzing. Early fears live the longest.

This love song, this gruesome love song, has been rattling around my Blog Ideas' folder for weeks but only now gained impetus. Truthfully, Jim Carrol's primary fame is as a poet and diarist, after all when you've been played by Leonardo Dicaprio perhaps having an "underground hit" (number 73 on the Billboard charts) ain't such a big whoop. Still in 1995 , the year the film of his The Basketball Diaries hit theaters, Jim Carroll returned to music. He made a music video for "People Who Died", Pearl Jam backed him in a re-recording of "Catholic Boy" and then, as Allan Ginsberg did for the Clash in '82, he dropped verses into the middle of a song called "Junky Man" by Rancid who ended up titling their album, ...And Out Come the Wolves after a line in his fevered poem.

Despite being a harrowingly personal song "People Who Died" has been covered with great ferocity by The Drive-By-Truckers.

Go to Amazon and consider a purchase, true, death increases sales but Jim Carroll always knew that.

People Who Died By Jim Carroll

Teddy sniffing glue he was 12 years old
Fell from the roof on East Two-nine
Cathy was 11 when she pulled the plug
On 26 reds and a bottle of wine
Bobby got leukemia, 14 years old
He looked like 65 when he died
He was a friend of mine

Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
They were all my friends, and they died

G-berg and Georgie let their gimmicks go rotten
So they died of hepatitis in upper Manhattan
Sly in Vietnam took a bullet in the head
Bobby OD'd on Drano on the night that he was wed
They were two more friends of mine
Two more friends that died / I miss 'em--they died

Repeat Refrain

Mary took a dry dive from a hotel room
Bobby hung himself from a cell in the tombs
Judy jumped in front of a subway train
Eddie got slit in the jugular vein
And Eddie, I miss you more than all the others,
And I salute you brother/ This song is for you my brother

Repeat Refrain

Herbie pushed Tony from the Boys' Club roof
Tony thought that his rage was just some goof
But Herbie sure gave Tony some bitchen proof
Hey, Herbie said, Tony, can you fly?
But Tony couldn't fly . . . Tony died

Repeat Refrain:

Brian got busted on a narco rap
He beat the rap by rattin' on some bikers
He said, hey, I know it's dangerous,
but it sure beats Riker's
But the next day he got offed
by the very same bikers

Repeat Refrain; repeat song to Eddie


  1. Didn't expect to be making another one of these comments so soon, but...


  2. When I heard this news floored me. He's my favorite author and "Basketball Diaries" is my favorite book. That book made a huge impact on my adolescence. I hope we'll somehow get our hands on the book he was working on when he passed.

    Little kids shoot marbles
    where the branches break the sun
    into graceful shafts of light…
    I just want to be pure.
    ---Jim Carroll

  3. Roy

    (I have to go and dig out my copy of Jim Carrol anthology I bought years ago.)

    As we all know, death boosts productivity (Cash, Tupac et al)so I expect to see re-issues, anthologies and posthumous works springing up over the next few years.

  4. Read Basketball Diaries years ago... I never new the Rancid / Jim Carroll connection.
    Who sez you can't learn anything from the innernet

  5. Jeez, I hadn't picked up on this. One of my all-time favourite albums.

    Thanks Jim.

  6. From what I understand Carroll improvised the whole thing, which while not entirely shocking is still pretty impressive.

  7. Mickey Mo
    Sorry to be the bearer of shitty news. That said, it was good to have people remember Jim Carroll again.


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