BEATS ON BEAT

"This Is The Beat Generation" by John Clellon Holmes

"The origins of the word "beat" are obscure, but the meaning is only to clear to most Americans. More than mere weariness, it implies having been used, of being raw. It involves a sort of nakedness of mind, and, ultimately, of soul; a feeling of being reduced to the bedrock of consciousness."

“The burden of my generation was the knowledge that something rational had caused all this (the feeling that something had gotten dreadfully, dangerously out of hand in our world--this vast maelstrom of death...the concentration camps that proved too real) and that nothing rational could end it....The bombs had gotten bigger, but the politics had stayed the same. The burden of my generation was to carry this in utter helplessness---the genocide, the overkill--and still seek love in the underground where all living things hide if they are to survive our century.”
Source: New York Times Magazine, November 16, 1952


“Aftermath: The Philosophy of the Beat Generation” by Jack Kerouac

“The Beat Generation, that was a vision that we had, John Clellon Holmes and I, and Allen Ginsberg in an even wilder way, in the late forties, of a generation of crazy, illuminated hipsters suddenly rising and roaming America, serious, bumming and hitchhiking everywhere, ragged, beatific, beautiful in an ugly graceful new way…It meant characters of a special spirituality who didn’t gang up but were solitary Bartlebies staring out the dead wall window of our civilization—the subterraneans heroes who’d finally turned from the “freedom” machine of the West and were taking drugs, digging bop, having flashes of isight, experiencing the ‘derangement of the senses,’ talking strange, being poor and glad, prophesying a new style for American culture…”
Source: Esquire, March 1958


“[Beat is] a kind of furtiveness...Like we were a generation of furtives. You know, with an inner knowledge there's no use flaunting on that level, the level of the 'public,' a kind of beatness--I mean, being right down to it, to ourselves, because we all really know where we are--and a weariness with all the forms, all the conventions of the world....So I guess you might say we're a beat generation.”
--Jack Kerouac


“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night ... “
--Allen Ginsberg, “Howl”



“The Ballad Of The Sad Young Men,” lyrics by Fran Landesman

Sing a song of sad young men
Glasses full of rye
All the news is bad again so
Kiss your dreams goodbye

All the sad young men sitting in the bars
Knowing neon nights. missing all the stars
All the sad young men drifting through the town
Drinking up the night trying not to drown

All the sad young men singing in the cold
Trying to forget that they're growing old
All the sad young men choking on their worth
Trying to be brave, running from the truth

Autumn turns the leaves to gold
Slowly dies the heart
Sad young men are growing old
And that's the cruelest part

All the sad young men seek a certain smile
Someone they can hold for a little while
Tired little girl does the best she can
Trying to be gay for her sad young man

While the grimy moon watches from above
All the sad young men play of making love
Misbegotten moon shine for sad young men
Let your gentle light guide them home tonight

All the sad young men

Source: “The Nervous Set” cast album, Columbia Records, 1959