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One Fast Move or I'm Gone (Music from Kerouac's Big Sur)

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iTunes Review

To his credit, Son Volt leader Jay Farrar never tries to replicate the be-bop-based inflections of author Jack Kerouac’s literary muscle. With Death Cab for Cutie’s Benjamin Gibbard trading vocals, co-writes and authoring the title track, Farrar puts and paraphrases the Beat Generation writer’s words from his 1962 novel Big Sur to music that is pure America, Western division. Kerouac’s novel chronicles the author’s mental breakdown, his growing alcoholism, his writerly attempt to right his demons amongst the dramatic environs of Big Sur, California. As Kerouac found beauty and despair at poet Lawerence Ferlinghetti’s cabin, Farrar finds a loping, end of the continent sadness with chords and melodies that sound like one of Farrar’s own doomed solo albums. Gibbard adds an unusual youthful spark to “California Zephyr,” a kick of upbeat country-pop for “All In One” and “These Roads Don’t Move,” while Farrar is the fatalist, breathing heavy throughout “Big Sur,” the blues-funded “Final Horrors” and the simple acoustic plea of “San Francisco.”

Customer Reviews

letter to jay and ben...

i was so excited to hear what could come of this collaboration and i am impressed on many levels. not a weak track on here but... what i really imagined and hoped for was more of a duet style record. while they sing together on some of the choruses, it's mostly as a lead and harmonizing backing vocal. "sea engines" has the best duet on the album and hearing ben's honey tenor with jay's straight-and-true baritone just makes me wish for more. this album just could have been so much greater with the emphsis on highlighting these great voices singing TOGETHER.
...and please, fellow reviewers, stop posting the one dimensional thoughts on "different-than-ben-with-postal-service-crap". sure postal service was good, but it's a crumb on the floor compared to the big picture on the table of this collaboration.

in a cabin in the middle of the middle of california...

Although best understood after reading Kerouac's "Big Sur," Ben and Jay successfully illustrate the ups and downs of Kerouac's experience as an artist. By using the actual text from the novel as a platform for lyrics, they are able to convey Kerouac's message in a direct, authentic way. By incorporating folk and jazz genre into the overall sound of the album, however, Ben and Jay go beyond just the author's words: the sound they create embodies and celebrates who Kerouac was and what he loved. This album may not be what most people were expecting (but then again, Ben Gibbard is constantly experimenting with his style and never really gives his DCFC following quite what they are expecting), but it stays true to the man to which it is attributed to, and it does so beautifully.

pitchfork is not always 100%

I read Kerouac's books several years ago, (big sur; twice). Upon first listen, I experienced something close to tears, whateever the inside pain is, first because Jay and Ben completely "get it" (Kerouac) and what they have put forth is an astounding account of such writings. Secondly, the thought occured to me that there are no more authors of this caliber anymore, not only am I an audiophile but an avid reader, sure there still some great writers out there, but few still carry the depth of thought and man. All these reviews about "country" and the "postal service" do not understand Jay and Ben or what they have displayed here.


Born: December 26, 1966 in Belleville, IL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

As a founding member of Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt, songwriter Jay Farrar helped popularize the alt-country movement of the 1990s. He also launched a solo career during the following decade, making it plain that his musical ambitions stretched far beyond the retro-leaning twang of his contemporaries. Farrar was born and raised in Belleville, Illinois, a small town not far from the Illinois/Missouri border. He was 12 when he first began leaning to play the guitar, and in high school he made friends...
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