Jim Carroll (1949 - 2009)

Stairwell at CBGBs, Circa 2003 Photo by bettyx1138 via Flickr Creative CommonsIf you're of a certain age and have a bent toward a certain kind of music, then you probably ground the grooves flat on your copy of Jim Carroll's "People Who Died." It wasn’t an anthem (which by definition excludes); it was something purer than that: a coyote howl of mourning--not for those who had gone (because they had reached something permanent, if only the void), but for those who remained, those who were forced to go on with one more ragged hole in their lives where a person once had been.

All that, and the song just flat out rocked.

Carroll was a poet and writer first and foremost, not a rock and roller with pretensions. He never gave in to the easy nihilism that so many in our crowd did. His writing was dark and cynical yes, but he retained something that is akin to joy that survivors of too much, too young sometimes do--a bedrock intuition, if not belief, that life is essentially good, or at least better than the alternative.

Living at the Movies His first full-length collection of poems. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
The Basketball Diaries (book) A dark memoir written long before the glut of dark memoirs.
The Basketball Diaries (DVD) Leonardo DiCaprio chews some scenery.