Thursday, September 17, 2009

More people who died! Died!

I know that a lot of people think of "The Basketball Diaries" when they hear the name Jim Carroll, but I primarily think of him as the singer of "People Who Died."

The Guardian remembers him also:

In my mind, Carroll will always be the creator of one of the most underrated albums of all time. 1980's Catholic Boy seems to be New York's missing musical link between drugged-out beat-clown acts such as the Holy Modal Rounders and the darker sound of Richard Hell. It has 60s style Spector-ish songs like Day and Night, lyrics about girls staying in bed to read Raymond Chandler, synthy love songs to the city and a lot of Raw Power-style garage rock. Carroll's sound walked the line between the coming precision of new wave and the scruffiness of 1975.

It is far from a forgotten record, but it's never received anywhere near its dues. New bands don't nod to it as a major influence, nor does it grace greatest album lists. I'm amazed by the music geeks who only mutter in response to my proselytising: "Oh yeah, I heard that album was OK. Not got a copy myself."

The article then specifically talks about the song I mentioned.

Take his most famous song, People Who Died. The music sounds like he should be singing about asking a girl to the dancehall, but instead Carroll's lyrics describe various friends he's lost, charting their ends from overdoses, leukaemia, gang murders and suicide. The list only stops for the sinisterly joyful chorus that repeats at the end of each verse:

"Lots of people who died, died/They were all my friends and they died."

It is a simple and unsentimental celebration of the short lives of a bunch of stupid kids, who never lived long enough to know better. With its power chords and brazenness, it is far more moving to me than some bloated tribute song, with full orchestra. I'll be playing it loudly in his memory.

If you'd like to do the same, go for it.

More here.
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