Jim Carroll: An Annotated, Selective, Primary and Secondary Bibliography, 1967-1988
nothing to writing . . .
All you do is sit down at the
typewriter and open a vein.
--Red Smith (qtd. in Berkow 208)
In 1964, at the age of 13, Jim Carroll was a New York street punk playing
basketball, sniffing glue, and writing poetry and diaries. His basketball
coach helped him earn an athletic/academic scholarship to Trinity High
School; there, "one of the brothers, hip to the light in Jim's eyes,
made him the sports editor of the school paper and passed along columns
by Red Smith and others that Jim would study, underlining metaphors,
and slowly begin to understand the craft of writing" (Milward 142).
When Carroll was 15, he began attending poetry readings at the St. Mark's
Church (170). By age 16, he was addicted to heroin and hustling gay
men to support his habit, was reading Allen Ginsberg, Frank O'Hara,
and Jack Kerouac. He published his first book of poetry, Organic
Trains, when he was 17.
approached Ted Berrigan in 1967, asking him to read Organic Trains;
Berrigan did, and called Carroll "the first truly new American poet"
(9). The St. Mark's Poetry Project, which assembled such poets as Anne
Waldman, Allen Ginsberg, and John Ashbery, continually provided a positive
atmosphere for Carroll's growing aspirations, and Ted Berrigan further
extended his support by taking Carroll to Maine to visit Jack Kerouac.
Kerouac, after reading portions of The Basketball Diaries, stated
that "at the age of 13, Jim Carroll writes better prose than 89 per
cent of the novelists working today" (Fissinger 44). Even William S.
Burroughs stepped in, commenting that Carroll "must be a born writer"
(Infusino). At 19 Carroll won the Random House Young Writer's Award
(1970) <Note 1> for excerpts
from The Basketball Diaries printed in Paris Review.
a month of college, Carroll dropped out to become assistant to New York
artist Larry Rivers, worked odd jobs at Andy Warhol's Factory, frequented
the backroom of Max's Kansas City where the Velvet Underground was performing,
and was Patti Smith's beau for a time. By the time he was twenty years
old, he was deeply enmeshed in New York's art scene; however, at the
same time, his heroin addiction had utterly taken over his life: in
1973 Carroll fled to Bolinas, California, to kick the habit. He spent
the first four years in Bolinas "practically a recluse . . . learning
to enjoy boredom" for the first time in his life; toward the end of
this period of seclusion, Carroll began writing rock lyrics (Rivers).
By 1980 he had formed the Jim Carroll Band and was an acclaimed rock
'n' roll star.
this is no ordinary writer. In his many incarnations, Carroll has been
compared to such diverse figures as Arthur Rimbaud, Lou Reed, Patti
Smith, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Frank O'Hara, the Ramones, the
Rolling Stones, and the New York Dolls, among others--but no definition
quite fits. The one certainty is that, because he has crossed the line
between poet and rock lyricist, he blurs the distinction between popular
artist and "serious" writer. This undefinable Jim Carroll is both author
and character of his prose, poetry, and song lyrics, essentially creating
and defining himself as he goes. Carroll knows what he's doing: as Gerard
Malanga says of Living at the Movies, Carroll "fully understands
the nature of poetry because he perceives and follows the nature of
his own life, and with that recognition of his nature, he is able to
write about it."
In The Basketball Diaries, written between the ages of 12 and
16, Carroll seems to be writing during time-outs, recording daily events
of his life in New York City, perhaps unaware that he is a "writer."
Perry notes that "in 'Basketball Diaries,' intentionally or not, he
did a marvelous job of establishing his character--pulling no punches
and holding nothing back . . . " and that "Carroll . . . tells a mean
story both of a young punk searching for a pure high, and of a young
man searching for a pure reality" (E6). Jamie James calls the book "Catcher
in the Rye for real, for bigger stakes"; judging from the excerpts
printed in poetry journals, "It seemed to be the charming but trivial
work of a precociously gifted young writer. The catch was that anyone
who had read Jimmy Carroll's poetry . . . knew it was charming but trivial
like Moby Dick is charming but trivial."
Platenga comments: "The Diaries are a real Jekyll & Hyde
affair. Has his public life of 'great potential' he's college material
by day but lowlifer by night. Loves basketball for its grace, finesse,
and sweat, plus all the girls he meets through his playing . . . Basketball
and heroin serve as ways IN as well as a way OUT." To the public, Carroll
is a promising basketball star, but behind the scenes he describes his
growing heroin addiction, experimentation with LSD, his adventures hustling
gay men and mugging passers-by in Central Park--and "The stories are
made all the more harrowing by the simple fact that Carroll was not
like most writers, a silent observer lurking in the corners, unwilling
to speak or step far enough into the room to become noticeable. Carroll
was a participant" (Perry E5).
says of Living at the Movies that "Mr. Carroll's poems are populated
with people he has loved and crowded with those who love him. His poems
are irrigated by friends, by his own kind and consanguinity" (164),
which also applies to Carroll's other ventures. After The Basketball
Diaries, during the 1970s, Carroll worked at odd jobs for Andy Warhol's
Factory, watched the Velvet Underground at Max's Kansas City, and generally
was in the presence of lots of famous people; these famous people and
Carroll's experiences with them make up the core of Forced Entries.
Describing a very hip downtown scene from the inside, Carroll provides
a humorous, clear-sighted picture; for example, he says Warhol's Factory
was "as boring as an empty bag" (FE 33).
in The Basketball Diaries, so in Forced Entries Carroll
struggles to hold on to his sense of self, always searching for purity.
Heroin no longer frees him; it has now become a prison. The last part
of Forced Entries describes Carroll's 1973 move to Bolinas, California,
where he undergoes methadone treatments and successfully kicks his eight-year
heroin habit. As he says in a later interview with Barbara Graustark,
"Susan Sontag once told me that a junkie has a unique chance to rise
up and start life over. But I want kids to know it's not hip to indulge
yourself at the bottom unless you're planning on one helluva resurrection"
in Bolinas, Carroll met Rosemary Klemfuss, who would become his wife
in 1978. "Rosemary was studying law at Stanford, where she was a deejay
a the college station, and she dragged Jim to see the pioneering punk/new-wave
bands" (Milward 14); with further encouragement from Patti Smith, Carroll
became interested in rock music. One night Smith was performing in San
Diego; when a dispute arose with the opening act, Carroll found himself
on stage reading his poetry with Smith's band backing him up. Of his
decision to become a rock musician Carroll says, "When I did the shows
with Patti, I saw that it could be done. It was incredibly fun, and
it was so intense and scary and beautiful at the same time . . . I think
it's just a natural extension of my work, of the images," and, "Any
poet, out of respect for his audience, should become a rock star" (Flippo
35). Carroll also cites Henry Miller as a prime influence:
Miller's study of Rimbaud, which is really a study of Henry Miller,
was the big factor for me going into rock--that was it. That
whole thing about getting a heart quality out of work rather than just
the intellectual quality. A good poet works on both. Miller spoke about
the inner register and how a great poet has to affect virtual illiterates
as well as affecting people through the intellect, and I figured many
poets are just writing for other poets today. It's all intellectual
concrete minimal poetry. (Flippo 35)
believes that "rock can strike at the intellect and at the heart, like
a wind in your veins or a fist tightening under your chest" (Graustark
result of Carroll's venture into rock 'n' roll has been three albums,
with Catholic Boy being one of the most critically acclaimed
work of his career (interestingly, it seems Carroll has received the
most recognition for his music, rather than his poetry or prose). One
song on the album, "People Who Died," in which Carroll rattles off the
names of several of his dead friends (many of whom are mentioned in
The Basketball Diaries), became an underground sensation even
before it was publicly released. Steven Simels writes, "'People Who
Died' is simultaneously poignant (Carroll genuinely misses his departed
comrades and is appalled by the waste involved) and oddly celebratory
. . . it soon becomes apparent that he admires their 'romantic'
exits . . ."
excursion into rock music ended, at least temporarily, with I Write
Your Name in 1984. However, a third volume of poetry, The Book
of Nods (1986), marks yet another transformation in Carroll's career.
It's "nods" are prose poems which combine elements of fiction, autobiography,
and surrealism, to produce what Daniel Guillory calls "verbal equivalents
of Dali's paintings." Carroll is currently working on his first fiction
novel, among other projects.
Jim Carroll's biography and personality are so important to understanding
his work, I have attempted in this bibliography to accurately portray
both Carroll as he shows himself in his work and in interviews, as well
as his critics' impressions of him. I researched widely, running into
several dead-ends--one problem being an abundance of persons named Jim
or James Carroll. <Note 2>
I also had some trouble locating Carroll's numerous limited-edition,
out-of-print, and other rare primary works; my interview with Carroll,
and correspondence with people associated with him, were most helpful
in this respect. The most fruitful tertiary sources were The Music
Index,Index of American Periodical Verse, Book Review
Index and Book Review Digest, Index to Book Reviews in
the Humanities, Contemporary Literary Criticism, The Alternative
Press Index, Access, Newsbank, and the Library of Congress
On-Line Catalogue (OCLC). I cover both primary and secondary works,
the latter being exclusively reviews, portraits, features, and interviews.
I found no scholarly articles or foreign reviews on Carroll's work,
and no previous bibliography. <Note 3>
bibliography is divided into two main sections, each of which is broken
down into sub-categories. The first section lists works by Carroll,
including his books, selected readings, albums ("Albums by the Jim Carroll
Band," "Spoken Word Albums," and "Other Albums" are listed separately),
and films, spanning the years 1967 through 1987. Under primary works,
books, albums, and films are arranged chronologically. Selected readings
are listed under six separate categories: "Uncollected Works," "Anthologies,"
and works collected in Organic Trains, Living at the Movies,
The Basketball Diaries, and The Book of Nods. Within each
category works are arranged alphabetically, with the exception of "Works
Collected in The Basketball Diaries": these are arranged chronologically,
as most of the works under this heading have similar titles. My annotation
of the selected readings is minimal. I have briefly described, whenever
possible, selected readings in "Works collected in The Basketball
Diaries," and have indicated some variants on the texts. Aside from
providing descriptions of broadsides and other unusual items, I have
not annotated any of the other selected readings.
coverage of secondary works is selective and spans the years 1969 through
1988. I have attempted in my annotation to be non-evaluative, although
I am a great fan of Carroll's. My intent is to accurately portray various
critics' impressions of Jim Carroll, thus consistency in length
of annotation was not a major concern. Generally the length of my annotation
can be viewed as a guide to the thoroughness and value of a source.
Secondary works are arranged under these headings: "Portraits, Features
and Interviews," "Book Reviews," "Record Reviews," "Film Review," and
"Performance Reviews." Works in the first and last categories are entered
alphabetically by critic. Book and record reviews are arranged in separate
alphabets under the works they review. Only one film review is listed.
sincerest thanks go out to Dorothea Kehler at San Diego State University
for her terrific support and encouragement from start to finish of this
article, and to Rosemary Carroll and Karen Pals for putting up with
my many letters and nearly-impossible questions. I'd also like to express
my gratitude to the staff of the Mandeville Department of Special Collections
at the University of California, San Diego; Janet Kraybill at Viking
Penguin; Matthew Bailer at the William Morris Agency; Anne Corrigan
at New World Video; and Joe Selby at BAM. Most of all, I want
to thank Jim Carroll for being Jim Carroll.
BY CARROLL<Note 4>
Click here for updates
Jim. Organic Trains. [New Jersey]: Penny Press, 1967.
Poetry--limited edition; 17 pages. Dedicated to Linda Cambi ("To
you I offer my hull and the tattered / cordage of my will" --Frank O'Hara),
this volume features the poems "The Ill Couples," "3 Seas," "Poem,"
"The Anarchists," "The Crucible of Dreams," "Poem of Arrivals," "11
Trains" (11 numbered "Trains"), and "On The Way." Eight of the "11 Trains"
are dedicated as follows: "1st Train" (for D.C.), "2nd Train" (for Frank
O'Hara), "3rd Train" for THE SUMMERS), "4th Train (for BLUES), "5th
Train" (for L.C.), "6th Train" (for A. R.), "7th Train" (for POETRY),
"9th Train" (for B. G. & J. H.). In my copy, Carroll has made corrections
(in red ink, initialled and dated 1968) to "The Anarchists," adding
the lines "days . . . / days . . ." to the end of the poem; in "On The
Way," "about" is appended to the end of line 42, and line 43 is changed
from "about imported bananas and soup and Rimbaud" to "amphetamines,
Rail Road, soap and Rene Marcia Rilke."
4 Ups and 1 Down. New York: Angel Hair Press, 1970.
Five poems in an eight-page, limited edition (300 copies) pamphlet.
Includes "Blue Poles," "Love Rockets," "Styro," "Poem on My Son's Birthday,"
and "To a Poetess"; all of these are reprinted in Living at the Movies.
The cover art is by Donna Dennis. There were 13 special copies, numbered
1-13, with a piece of hair and signatures of the author and artist.
Living at the Movies. New York: Grossman, 1973. New York: Penguin,
The back cover of the 100-page book states,
these poems, all written before the age of twenty-two, Carroll shows
an uncanny virtuosity. His power and poisoned purity of vision are
reminiscent of Arthur Rimbaud, and, like the strongest poets of the
New York School, Carroll transforms the everyday details of city life
into poetry. In language at once delicate, hallucinatory, and menacing,
his major themes--love, friendship, the exquisite pains and pleasures
of drugs, and above all, the ever-present city--emerge in an atmosphere
where dream and reality mingle on equal terms. . . .
Grossman edition is dedicated "To Devereaux," and the cover features
a painting by New York artist Larry Rivers (the Penguin paperback has
neither the dedication nor the Rivers cover).
The Basketball Diaries. Bolinas, CA: Tombouctou, 1978; New York:
Bantam, 1980. New York: Penguin, 1987. <Note
Carroll wrote his autobiographical tales of "growing up hip [or
stoned] on New York's mean streets" (informal subtitle) between the
ages of 12 and 16, from 1963 to 1966. Carroll earned a scholarship to
a posh Catholic school and spent his time playing basketball, stealing,
hustling gay men to support his growing heroin addiction and, during
time-outs, writing diaries. As Carroll says in one entry:
I got these diaries that have the greatest hero a writer needs, this
crazy fucking New York. Soon I'm gonna wake a lot of dudes off their
asses and let them know what's really going down in the blind alley
out there in the pretty streets with double garages. I got a tap on
all your wires, folks. I'm just really a wise ass kid getting wiser,
and I'm going to get even for your dumb hatreds and all them war baby
dreams you left in my scarred bed with dreams of bombs falling above
that cliff I'm hanging steady to. Maybe someday just an eight-page book,
that's all, and each time a page gets turned a section of the Pentagon
goes blast up in smoke. Solid. (159-60)
Tombouctou edition has the same photograph (by Rosemary Klemfuss/Carroll)
on the front cover as the Penguin version, but in black and white; this
edition also features illustrations from sculptures by Marc Blane, a
four-page introduction by Tom Clark (titled "Rimbaud Rambles On: By
Way of a Preface to The Diaries"), and an "author's note" by Carroll.
The Bantam edition has a different cover photograph than the Penguin
and Tombouctou editions; the back cover says Carroll's "prose is blacker
than black leather, whiter than heroin, rainbow colored. Cuts like a
razor. And twice as quick. Reading Carroll is a rare, unforgettable
The Book of Nods. New York: Penguin, 1986.
A 172-page book of verse and prose poetry, divided into four sections:
"The Book of Nods," "New York City Variations," "California Variations,"
and "Poems 1973-1985." "Nods" refer to Carroll's drug-induced states
and the poems which result from them. Of the other three sections, the
book's back cover notes:
'New York City Variations,' 'California Variations,' and 'Poems 1973-1985'
Carroll grapples with his familiar themes--love, survival, obsession,
good and evil, the city as landscape, paradise and prison--in language
of special beauty and imagery of often religious intensity.
Forced Entries: The Downtown Diaries: 1971-1973. New York: Penguin,
In the 1970s, after the great underground success of The Basketball
Diaries, Carroll was "a young and rising star in the crazy and creative
downtown scene in New York City" (back cover). Forced Entries
covers a period when he was rubbing elbows with such figures as Andy
Warhol, Larry Rivers, Robert Smithson, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, and
the Velvet Underground, as well as the period of Carroll's retreat to
California to break his heroin addiction. As Perry notes, "The title
of "Forced Entries" suggests both the way the writer forced himself
to enter, at least part way, into respectable society, and his feeling
that he had to continue the story, both to vindicate himself
of his past and to work through the restlessness of his youth" (E6).
In the first entry, "A Birthday," Carroll writes:
fact is, in many ways, I hadn't planned to make it to this age. I think
of my past as if it were some exquisite antique knife . . . you can
use it to defend yourself or slit your own throat, but you can't just
keep it mounted on some wall. I can no longer allow the past, however,
to interpret my future. Not dying young can be a dilemma. . . .
having lived, it seems only proper to begin keeping track again, to
record the flux of each self, and weigh the shifting landscape of this
city. . . If you haven't died by an age thought predetermined through
the timing of your abuses and excesses, then what else is left but to
begin another diary? (2) <Note
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Bill, and Jim Carroll. "Back Up Front (for Ted Berrigan)." ts. Library
of Ted Berrigan, 1970.
collaborative, one-page poem, signed and dated by the authors.
Bill, Ted Berrigan, and Jim Carroll. "The Very Best (to George)." Telephone
2 (n.d.): 4.
Jim. "Breakfast Poem." Big Sky 9 (1975): 28.
"Catholics On Dope." Little Caesar 4 (1977): 6.
"Chez Rivers." Transatlantic Review 55/56 (1976): 193.
"Christmas Lists." The World 9 (1967): 26.
"Cops." Yale Literary Magazine 138 (1969): 24-25.
"Dealers." Big Sky 9 (1975): 26.
"For Edmund Joseph Berrigan." Big Sky 9 (1975): 28.
"For John Wieners." Big Sky 9 (1975): 25.
"French Poem." The World 21 (1971): 11.
"From a Diary: August 8, 1965." Adventures in Poetry 2 (1968):
"From the 'Book of Nods': School Days." The World 20 (1970) 65.
"I'm Living Inside Again." Big Sky 9 (1975): 27.
"Into the Sky . . . Now." The World 11 (1968): 39.
"Kitten (Self Pity)." Big Sky 9 (1975): 25.
"A Last Poem (for Cassandra)." The World 10 (1968): 19.
"Little Princes." The World 16 (1969): 19.
"The Marketplace." The World 8 (1967): 15.
"Methadone Maintenance Program--Mt. Sinai Hospital." The World
22 (1971): 24.
"Ode." The World 8 (1967): 15.
"My Pale Skin." Long Shot 2 (1983): 66.
"Poem for Clarice Rivers." The World 21 (1971): 10.
"Poem: To Ted Berrigan." The World 9 (1967): 26.
"Ten Things I Do When I Shoot Up." The World 18 (1970): 28. Rpt.
in Waldman, Another World 185.
"Wingless." Big Sky 9 (1975): 29.
Carter, Jim Carroll, and Peter Schjeldahl. "True Love: For e e cummings."
Penumbra 8 (1970): 22-23.
Anne. Ed. Another World: A Second Anthology of Works from the St.
Mark's Poetry Project. Ed. Anne Waldman. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill,
Includes "Vacation," "Living at the Movies," "Ten Things I Do When
I Shoot Up," "The Blue Pill," and "The Scumbag Machine."
Ed. The World Anthology: Poems from the St. Mark's Poetry Project.
Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1969. 10-13.
Includes "Next Door," "The Distances," "The Loft," and "From the Basketball
Diary: Feb. 4, 1965."
Collected in Organic Trains
Jim. "Red Rabbit Running Backwards (for A. W.)." Stone Wind 4
: 113. Rpt. as "11th Train" in OT 13.
"6th Train (for A. R.)." Stone Wind 4 : 114. Rpt. in OT
Collected in Living at the Movies
Jim. "After St. John of the Cross." Chicago 2.3-4 (1972): 58.
Rpt. in LM 61.
"The Answer." The World 21 (1971): 9. Rpt., revised, as "Sure
. . ." in LM 58.
"An Apple at Dawn." Chicago 2.3-4 (1972): 61. Rpt. in LM
"August." Chicago 2.3-4 (1972): 59. Rpt. in LM 5.
"The Birth and Death of the Sun." Paris Review 12.48 (1969):
36. Rpt. in LM 94.
"Birthday Poem." The World 12 (1968): 4-5. Rpt. in Waldman, The
World Anthology 15-17; LM 22-23.
"Blood Bridge." The World 19 (1970): 25. Rpt. in LM 34.
"Blood Bridge." Chicago 2.3-4 (1972): 57. Rpt. in LM 34.
"The Blue Pill." The World 16 (1969): 19. Rpt. in Waldman, Another
World 186; revised in LM 33.
"The Burning of Bustins Island." Angel Hair 6 (1969): 51. Rpt.
in LM 15.
"Chelsea May." Chicago 6 (1973): 50. Rpt. in LM 96.
"Chop Chop." The World 21 (1971): 9-10. Rpt. in LM 64.
"Chop Chop." Chicago 2.3-4 (1972): 58. Rpt. in LM 64.
"Cold Faces." The World 21 (1971): 9. Rpt. in LM 51.
"Crossed Wires." The World 19 (1970): 25. Rpt. in LM 36.
"The Distances." The World 11 (1968): 40. Rpt. in LM 2-3.
"The Distances." Poetry 114 (1969): 31-33. Rpt. in Waldman,
The World Anthology 11-13; revised in LM 2-3.
"For Sue's Birthday." Chicago 2.3-4 (1972): 54-61. Rpt. in LM
"Fragment: Little NY Ode." The World 25 (1973): 5. Rpt. in LM
"Gliding." Chicago 6 (1973): 48. Rpt. in LM 43.
"Gliding." The World 26 (1973): 5. Rpt. in LM 43.
"Heroin." Paris Review 12.48 (1969): 34-35. Rpt., revised, in
"Heroin." Yale Literary Magazine 138 (1969): 23-24. Rpt., revised,
in LM 19-20.
"In This Room Particularly." The World 26 (1973): 3. Rpt. in
"It Doesn't Matter." Chicago 6 (1973): 50. Rpt. in LM
"Invisible Sleep." Chicago 2.3-4 (1972): 59. Rpt. in LM
"Jet Fizzle." The World 17 (1969): 20. Rpt. in LM 53.
"Little Ode on St. Anne's Day." Chicago 2.3-4 (1972): 56. Rpt.
in LM 63.
"Leaving N.Y.C." The World 21 (1971): 11. Rpt. in LM 37.
"Living at the Movies (for Ted Berrigan)." The World 14 (1968):
30. Rpt. in Waldman, Another World 183-85; LM 25-26.
"The Loft." The World 8 (1967): 15. Rpt. in Waldman, The World
Anthology 13; LM 13.
"Love Poem (Later)." Chicago 2.3-4 (1972): 55. Rpt. in LM
"Love Rockets." The World 11 (1968): 39. Rpt. in LM 10.
"Love Story." Chicago 2.3-4 (1972): 55. Rpt. in LM 84.
"Mercury Clouds." Chicago 2.3-4 (1972): 57. Rpt. in LM
"Midnight." Chicago 2.3-4 (1972): 56. Rpt. in LM 77.
"Morning." Chicago 6 (1973): 52. Rpt. in LM 8-9.
"New Year 1970." Chicago 2.3-4 (1972): 60. Rpt. in LM
"Next Door." The World 10 (1968): 19. Rpt. in Waldman, The
World Anthology 10-11; LM 10.
"On the Rush." Chicago 6 (1973): 48. Rpt. in LM 91.
"One Flight Up." The World 26 (1973): 4. Rpt. in LM 30.
"The Other Garden." The World 9 (1967): 27. Rpt. in LM
"Poem." The World 26 (1973): 4. Rpt. in LM 83.
"Poem (for Linda Canby [sic])." <Note 9 >
Review 11.43 (1968): 58. Rpt. as "Blue Poles" in LM 1; 4
Ups and 1 Down 1.
There are some changes in punctuation
"Prell." Paris Review 13.50 (1970): 16. Rpt. in LM
"Sea Battle." Chicago 6 (1973): 49. Rpt. in LM 54.
"Sea Battle." The World 26 (1973): 3-5. Rpt. in LM 54.
"Seltzer." Angel Hair 6 (1969): 50. Rpt. in LM 24.
"A Short Reminder." Chicago 6 (1973): 51. Rpt. in LM 41-42.
"Silver Mirror." Yale Literary Magazine 138(1969): 24. Rpt.,
revised, as "Silver Mirrors" in LM 65.
"Silver Mirrors." Chicago 6 (1973): 49. Rpt. in LM 65.
"To the Secret Poets of Kansas." The World 21 (1971): 10. Rpt.
in LM 52.
"Torn Canvas." The World 21 (1971): 11. Rpt. in LM 93.
"Traffic." Paris Review 12.45 (1968): 141. Rpt. in LM
"Vacation." The World 13 (1968): 21. Rpt. in Waldman, Another
World 182-83; LM 39-40.
"Withdrawal Letter." The World 21 (1971): 12. Rpt. in LM
"Words from Babylon." The World 21 (1971): 9. Rpt. in LM
"Words from Babylon." Chicago 2.3-4 (1972): 56. Rpt. in LM
"Your Daughter." Chicago 2.3-4 (1972): 57. Rpt. in LM
Collected in The Basketball Diaries
Jim. "From a Diary." Adventures in Poetry 2 (1968): 65-67. Rpt.
in BD 3-4, 27, 54-56.
Five entries: November 6, 1962 ("Today was my first Biddy League game
. . ."); January 26, 1963 (the memorial service for Teddy Rayhill);
August 6, 1965 ("Willie Coll and I arrived in the Long Beach station
. . ."); August 7, 1965 (the Celia sisters); and August 8, 1965 ("Today
was the big game against Orlando's Furniture . . ."). The last entry
is not collected.
"From the Basketball Diary." The World 11 (1968): 41. Rpt. in
Waldman, The World Anthology 13-15; and as "Winter 66" in BD
Two entries, dated Feb. 4, 1965 ("We just got into town for the very
spectacular National High School All Star Basketball Game."), and Feb.
5, 1965 ("After a very poor breakfast Joe Slapstick calls Corky and
I aside . . ."). The two World versions are identical, but Carroll
changed the names of characters for the later publication of his book.
For example, Benny Greenbaum, the homosexual coach from a well known
Midwestern University in The Basketball Diaries is in this printing
Mike Tittleberger from Marquette. Also, in The Basketball Diaries,
Corky Ball became "Bax Porter"; Luther Green, "Sammy Fulton"; and Dean
Meminger, "Ben Davis."
"From the Basketball Diary: Winter, 1965." Culture Hero 1.5 (1969):
9-10. Rpt. in The World 11 (1968): 41; Waldman, The World
Anthology 13-15, and BD 153-54.
One entry ("We just got into town. . ."); included in Ted Berrigan's
article (see "Portraits, Features, and Interviews"). With the exception
of numerous typographical errors, this printing is identical to the
two World versions above.
"The Scumbag Machine (from the Basketball Diary)." The World
15 (1969): . Rpt. in Waldman, Another World 186-187. Rpt.,
revised, in BD 155-157.
The entry begins, "Coming back from the Washington trip today, we stopped
at a gas station in Benny's car and Yogi went behind the place to use
"The Basketball Diaries [Excerpts]." Paris Review 13.50 (1970):
94-114. Rpt. in BD 4-6, 47-50, 65-67, 93-94, 80-86, 153-57, 138-39,
194-96, 174-75, 209-10.
In this version, numbers are not written out and abbreviations are retained.
There are numerous differences in phrasing as compared to The Basketball
Diaries, and the book's final sentence, "I just want to be pure
. . ." is not included here. Several names are different: Benny Greenbaum
in The Basketball Diaries is here "Benny Greenleaf," Bax is "Corky,"
Sammy Fulton is "Lex Lincoln," and Ben Davis is "Dean Marmelade." The
diary entries are dated differently here than in the book.
"From The Basketball Diaries: August 17, 1965." The Ant's
Forefoot 8 (1971): 60-61. Rpt. in BD 57-61.
In the book, this diary appears under "Summer 64"; it is the "Winkie
and Blinkie" entry.
"From the Basketball Diaries: Winter 1966." Big Sky 8 (1974):
100-1. Rpt. in Little Caesar 3 (1977): 12-13; and BD 167-69;
Three entries: "I have an older woman that I see now very often on the
weekends . . .," "I saw my old lady lover tonight . . .," and "I told
the old lady I been making it with lately that I was packing her in."
Collected in The Book of Nods
Jim. "The Bees." Big Sky 8 (1974): 26. Rpt., revised, as "Quality"
in BN 19.
"A Night Outing" (for James Schuyler). Transatlantic Review 55/56
(1976): 192. Rpt., revised, in BN 121.
"From NYC Variations." Broadside. Yanagi Broadside Series. Berkeley,
CA: West Coast Print Center, 1977. Rpt. in BN 82.
An edition of 300 numbered sets, edited by Louis Patler and Bill
Barrett, and designed by Marc Blane and Louis Patler. The broadside
is printed in red ink on grey paper, and is illustrated with a photo
of Marc Blane's sculptured red clay images (which also illustrate the
Tombouctou edition of The Basketball Diaries).
"Poem." Long Shot 2 (1983): 66. Rpt. as "Poem (for Frank O'Hara)"
in BN 115.
"A Poet Dies." Broadside. Walker Art Center Reading Series 1980-1981.
St. Paul, Minn.: Toothpaste Press [for Bookslinger], 1980. Rpt. in BN
A limited edition in 20 broadsides; 85 numbered and signed copies.
"A Poet Dies." Long Shot 2 (1983): 64-65. Rpt. in BN 6-7.
"From 'Scenes in the Life of Jean Arthur': Rimbaud Running Guns, for
Patti Smith." Little Caesar 3 (1977): 4. Rpt. in "Rimbaud Scenes"
from BN 34-35.
"A Section from 'The Variations.'" Little Caesar 4 (1977): 20.
Rpt. untitled in BN 91.
"Variations for Waking." Little Caesar 3 (1977): 26-27. Rpt.,
untitled and revised, in BN 109-10.MacAdams, Lewis Jr., and Jim
Carroll. "Cheered and Greeted" and "A Window in Cherry Valley." New
York: Adventures in Poetry, 1973. "A Window in Cherry Valley" Rpt.,
revised, in BN 143.
Two non-collaborative poems in two leaves, with a cover illustrated
by George Schneeman. "A Window in Cherry Valley" is Carroll's work.
here for updates
by The Jim Carroll Band
Jim Carroll Band. Catholic Boy. Atco-Atlantic, SD 38-132,
Songs include "Wicked Gravity," "Three Sisters," "Day and Night," "Nothing
is True," "City Drops Into the Night," "Crow," "It's Too Late," "I Want
the Angel," and "Catholic Boy"; one song in particular, "People Who
Died," has been the focus of many critics:
sniffing glue, he was 12 years old.
He 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.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
members are: Brian Linsley on guitar, Steve Linsley on Bass, Terrell
Winn on guitar, Wayne Woods on drums, and Jim Carroll on vocals. Allen
Lanier plays keyboards on "Day and Night" and "I Want the Angel";
Bobby Keys plays saxophone on "City Drops Into the Night." The album
was produced by Earl McGrath.
Dry Dreams. Atco-Atlantic, SD 38-145, 1982.
Out of print. Songs include "Work Not Play," "Dry Dreams," "Them,"
"Jealous Twin," "Lorraine," "Jody," "Barricades," "Evangeline," "Rooms,"
and "Still Life." All lyrics are printed on the inner record sleeve.
Band members are Jim Carroll on vocals, Wayne Woods on Drums, Steve
Linsley on Bass, Paul Sanchez on guitar, Jon Tiven on Guitar and organ,
Tom Canning on piano, Walter Steding on violin, Sammy Figueroa on percussion,
Alan Lanier on synthesizer, Randy Brecker on trumpet (arranged by Cengiz
Yaltkaya), and Lenny Kaye plays guitar on "Still Life." The album was
produced by Earl McGrath.
I Write Your Name. Atlantic, 7 80123-1, 1984.
Out of print. "Dedicated to the memories of Ted Berrigan (1934-1983)
and Brian Marnell (1954-1983)" (album cover note). Songs include "Love
Crimes," "(No More) Luxuries," "Voices," a version of Lou Reed's "Sweet
Jane," "Hold Back the Dream," "Freddy's Store," "Black Romance," "I
Write Your Name," "Low Rider," and "Dance the Night Away." Band members
are Lenny Kaye on guitar, Steve Linsley on bass, Jim Carroll on vocals,
Paul Sanchez on guitar, Wayne Woods on drums, Brian Marnell on guitar,
Kinny Landrum on keyboards, Will Lee on additional bass, and Michael
Caravello on congas and percussion. Features Anne Waldman (among others)
on backup vocals. The album was produced by Earl McGrath.
Word Albums <Note
Dial-a-Poem Poets. The Dial-a-Poem Poets. Giorno Poetry Systems,
GPS 001, 1972.
A double album (108 minutes) featuring 30 spoken-word selections. Carroll
reads from The Basketball Diaries (a portion of 157-59; and "The
Celia Sisters," 55-56). Carroll dates the first entry as 1962 (it is
1966 in the book), and the second entry as August 7, 1965 (it is Summer
1964 in the book). Also, Carroll's reading style here is remarkably
different than his present style. Other artists appearing on the album
are Allen Ginsberg, Diane Di Prima, William S. Burroughs, Anne Waldman,
John Giorno, Emmet Williams, Ed Sanders, Taylor Mead, Robert Creeley,
Harris Schiff, Lenore Kandel, Aram Saroyan, Philip Whalen, Ted Berrigan,
Frank O'Hara, Joe Brainard, Clark Coolidge, John Cage, Bernadette Mayer,
Michael Brownstein, Brion Gysin, John Sinclair, Heathcote Williams,
David Henderson, Bobby Seale, and Kathleen Cleaver.
Disconnected. Giorno Poetry Systems, GPS 003, 1974.
(Two sound discs, 119 minutes). Carroll reads "From The Basketball Diaries,
Age 13, Spring 1965" (BD 187-89); the piece was recorded on April
25, 1973. Also appearing on the album are Charles Amirkhanian, John
Ashbery, Imamu Amiri Baraka, Bill Berkson, Paul Blackburn, Joe Brainard,
Michael Brownstein, William S. Burroughs, John Cage, Tom Clark, Clark
Coolidge, Gregory Corso, Robert Creeley, Diane Di Prima, Ed Dorn, Larry
Fagin, Allen Ginsberg, John Giorno, Frank Lima, Michael McClure, Gerard
Malanga, Bernadette Mayer, Frank O'Hara, Charles Olson, Peter Orlovsky,
Maureen Own, Ron Padgett, John Perreault, Charles Plymall, Ed Sanders,
Jack Spicer, Lorenzo Thomas, Chogyam Trungpa Rimpoche, Diane Wakoski,
Anne Waldman, Philip Whalen, and John Wieners.
Life is a Killer. Giorno Poetry Systems, GPS 027, 1982.
A note on the album jacket says, "The cuts recorded in Toronto are from
the film Poetry in Motion by Ron Mann. This album was produced
in part from funds from The New York State Council on the Arts." Most
of the pieces (not including Carroll's) are accompanied by music (instrumental
ensemble or synthesized sound). Carroll's reading of "Just Visiting,"
from The Book of Nods (63-65), is from Poetry in Motion;
on this album Carroll reads the entire piece. Other performers include
Amiri Baraka ("Wailers"), Brion Gysin ("Junk"), William S. Burroughs
("The Mummy Piece"), Rose Lesniak ("She's So"), Ned Sublette ("Cowboys
Are Frequently Secretly"), Jayne Cortez ("I See Chano Pozo"), Four Horsemen
("The Dreams Remain"), and John Giorno ("Everyone Says What They Do
You're a Hook: The 15 Year Anniversary of Dial-a-Poem. Giorno
Poetry Systems, GPS 030, 1983.
Music and Spoken word. Carroll reads from The Basketball Diaries;
the pieces were recorded on March 30, 1969, and are the same reading
as on The Dial-a-Poem Poets above (a portion of 157-59; and "The
Celia Sisters," 55-56). Appearing on the album with Carroll are John
Giorno ("[Last Night] I Gambled with My Anger and Lost"), William S.
Burroughs ("Old Man Bickford"), Laurie Anderson ("Song from America
on the Move"), Philip Glass ("A Secret Solo"), Lenny Kaye ("No Jestering"),
Patti Smith ("7 Ways of Going"), Frank Zappa ("The Talking Asshole"),
and Allen Ginsberg ("Father Death Blues").
Better an Old Demon than a New God. Giorno Poetry Systems, [catalogue
number not available], 1984.
Spoken word. Carroll reads "A Peculiar Looking Girl" from Forced
Entries (46-49). Also appearing on the album are David Johansen
("Imagination Cocktail"), John Giorno ("Exiled in Domestic Life"), William
S. Burroughs ("Dinosaurs"), Psychic TV ("Unclean"), Lydia Lunch ("What
It Is"), Meredith Monk ("Candy Bullets and Moon"), Anne Waldman ("Uh-Oh
Plutonium"), Richard Hell ("The Rev. Hell Gets Confused"), and Arto
Artists. Tuff Turf. Movie soundtrack. Rhino, RNSP 308, 1985.
The Jim Carroll Band performs "People Who Died," "Voices," and "It's
Too Late." Also appearing on the soundtrack are Southside Johnny ("Tuff
Turf"), Jack Mack and the Heart Attack ("Green Onions," "So Tuff," and
"She's Looking Good"), Lene Lovich ("Breakin' The Rules [What Do You
Do When Opposites Attract?"]), Marianne Faithful ("Love Hates"), and
Dale Gonyea with J. R. & The Z-Men ("Twist and Shout").
<Note 11 >
Click here for updates
In Motion. Videocassette. Prod. Sphinx Productions, in assoc.
with Giorno Poetry Systems. Dir. Ron Mann. Voyager Press, 1983. 90 min.
Carroll reads a portion of "Just Visiting," from The Book of Nods
(63-65). Early in the video, he also comments on the nature of poetry:
don't want to lead anybody in any subjective sense, or push anything
onto them, you know. I mean you can say you teach in a certain way,
but it's like, just, you know, puttin' the light in peoples' eyes,
you know. That it's just like opening the door but not showing them
around and telling them, "This is the chair, this is the table," you
know, but just saying, "Here, here's the room," and turning on the
video also features performances and commentary by Charles Bukowski,
Amiri Baraka (with David Murray on saxophone and Steve McCall on drums),
Anne Waldman, Ted Berrigan, Kenward Elmslie, Helen Adam, Tom Waits,
William S. Burroughs, Christopher Dewdney, Michael McClure, Ted Miton,
Robert Creeley, John Cage, Four Horsemen (b. p. Nichol, Rafael Barreto-Riveis,
Paul Dutton, Steve McCaffery), Michael Ondaatje, Jayne Cortez (with
Bern Nix on guitar, Jamaaladeen Tacuma on bass, and Denardo Coleman
on drums), Diane Di Prima (with Peter Hartman on piano, and Sheppard
T. Powell on slides), John Giorno, Ntozake Shange (with Hank Johnson
on piano, and dancers Fred Gary and Bernedene Jennings), Gary Snider,
Allen Ginsberg (with The Ceedes: Curtis Driedger on guitar, Doug Cameron
on bass, Ben Cleveland-Hayes on drums), and Miguel Algarin.
to the City. Prod. Sphinx Productions. Dir. Ron Mann. Spectrafilm,
1984. 90 min. <Note 12 >
A self-described 'political fable' that combines elements of Godard,
Marvel comics, Orwell, rock video and King Vidor's Our Daily Bread,
Listen to the City takes the form (but thankfully not the tone)
of an academic argument: it addresses a particular problem [unemployment
in Canada] and posits a possible strategy for solution. (Pevere 23)
appears in the film's first sequence as "an apparently bedeviled hospital
inmate . . . taking to the street armed with sunglasses, an intravenous
stand and a steady stream of prophetic platitudes . . . ." and in the
final scenes, performing a song in a tavern (Pevere 23). Presumably,
he reappears throughout the film.
Turf. Videocassette. Dir. Fritz Kiersch. New World, 1985.
A typical high-school adventure-love story, the film stars James Spader,
Kim Richards, and Paul Mones. Carroll appears briefly, as himself, in
a dance club scene in which he performs (lip syncing and playing air
guitar) "Voices" and "It's Too Late"; he has one speaking part between
songs. "People Who Died" serves as background music during a car scene.
FEATURES, AND INTERVIEWS <Note 13 >
Click here for updates
Ted. "Jim Carroll." Culture Hero 1.5 (1969): 9-10.
Berrigan's enamored portrait of Carroll, though a bit difficult to follow
(the author alternately comments upon Carroll, quotes Carroll, and quotes
comments by Anne Waldman and Bill Berkson about Carroll--without indicating
which is which), provides unique information about Carroll's beginnings
as a writer. Describing Carroll as "beautiful . . . . He's 20 years
old, stands 6'3", and has a body like Nureyev (or would have were Nureyev
Clint Eastwood)," Berrigan recounts a number of experiences with Carroll,
including their first meeting:
Carroll first appeared in my life as a huge white paw hung purposefully
from the near end of a long brown corduroy arm. It was late one Wednesday
evening, in front of Gem's Spa, the corner at 2nd Avenue & St.
Mark's Place, in the Spring of 1967. A slight grey rectangle blocked
my further view. I stopped short, although none of this is the least
bit unusual at Gem's Spa. But the giant who materialized behind the
hand certainly was unusual. It seemed to be saying, Pay attention,
and I did so. "I'm Jim Carroll," the giant said and became a very
interesting person. "I've just had this book of poems published, and
[I'd] like to give you a copy to read." "I'd love to read it," I said.
(That's what I always say.) So, I took the small pamphlet of Jim Carroll's
poems home to read.
had written a note in the book saying, "Please reply, I'd like to show
you more . . . Fuck the spelling in this book--it was printed in New
Jersey." Berrigan describes Organic Trains as "a tremendous experience.
. . . I've never seen anything like it. I can say Rimbaud, but that
doesn't bring in how American Jim Carroll is, and a critic might, and
probably would say, O'Hara; but Frank O'Hara never wrote anywhere near
this well until well into his 20's." The author is impressed with Carroll's
finesse in basketball and baseball; cited here is a report in the Rhinelander
Newspaper (March 13, 1970) praising Carroll's basketball prowess,
and describing the audience's surprise when Carroll "took his beret
off, and long sweaty flaming red hair fell to his shoulders." Berrigan
includes an anecdote in which he asks how Carroll got into poetry. Carroll
by the time I got to Trinity the straight Jock trip had begun to wear
a little thin. . . I still had as much charge, but I simply began
getting off into new directions, like pills, sex, drugs, booze and
The New American Poetry. I had been keeping my basketball diaries
since I was 12, and so when I got turned on to poetry at Trinity,
writing it just came naturally. I read Howl first, I guess.
closes by mentioning Carroll's publications in The World, Paris
Review, and the upcoming Living at the Movies and Basketball
Diaries. The article culminates with an excerpt from The Basketball
Jeff. "Jim Carroll: Pain Paved Way to Better Life for Rocker." Columbus
(Ohio) Evening Dispatch 11 Feb. 1981. Newsbank, Performing Arts
Index, 1980-81, fiche 101, grid F4.
Previewing an upcoming concert at the Agora Ballroom, Borden maintains
that "There's no reason to doubt the veracity of Jim Carroll's lyrics
when he sings of drug abuse, addiction, death on the streets and, ultimately,
redemption." The reviewer recounts Carroll's adolescent adventures with
drugs, and mentions the positive reception of The Basketball Diaries,
Living at the Movies, and Catholic Boy. In what appears
to be an interview, Carroll says of his success, "It doesn't really
matter, though . . . I'd be satisfied with cult status. It's like with
The Basketball Diaries. I wasn't into that for what I could get
out of it. And that thought carries on with the music." Borden notes
the influence of Carroll's Catholic background, "an upbringing he termed
harsh but helpful." Carroll explains: "A poet is always a religious
person, but non-denominational. I'm real concerned about creating images
and I'm just using the images about Catholic school which I don't like."
Carroll discredits people who "use God to get a 24-hour buzz and are
redeemed through joy. My faith is different from born-again Christians.
I was redeemed through pain. It's like when you pray for three months
for someone who has leukemia and that person still dies." Borden mentions
Carroll's move from New York, his successful battle against heroin addiction,
and his entry into rock music; Carroll comments that he went into rock
because "I didn't want to write for other poets, but for the heart.
The rock lyrics do that for me." Borden notes that Carroll "still considers
himself a poet, but begs his listeners not to look for messages in his
works." Says Carroll, "The message is that there isn't a message. .
. All I do is turn on the light or open the door. They have to walk
through it on their own."
Scott. "Rock Star Poet Jim Carroll Comes to Atlanta." Atlanta (Ga.)
Journal 13 March 1981. Newsbank, Performing Arts Index, 1980-81,
fiche 123, grid E10.
Cain previews an upcoming concert by the Jim Carroll Band (at the rock
club 688), stating that "Jim Carroll is not a run-of-the-mill rock star,
although he has enough credentials to give a fundamentalist preacher
enough material for a hundred sermons." Cain calls Carroll's adolescence
"the kind of life most people consider horrifying," but notes, "Carroll
turned his ordeals into literature." Cain indicates that "When he gave
poetry readings in his younger days, people told him he had the aura
of a rock star," and describes Carroll's first (accidental) rock performance
in San Diego. Discussing The Basketball Diaries, Cain mentions
that "Several moviemakers have been bidding for the rights . . . and
Carroll has narrowed the selection to two. There's a good possibility
he will write music for the film." Referred to also is Carroll's heroin
addiction ("His acceptance in artistic circles--he appeared in two Andy
Warhol movies and was influenced musically by Lou Reed--did nothing
to help him get away from heroin . . . .) and the upcoming Forced
Entries. Cain describes Carroll's move to Bolinas and marriage to
Rosemary, and the couple's return to New York; the article closes with
a discussion of Carroll's low-key lifestyle in New York. Says Carroll
regarding a possible move to San Francisco or Boston, "My whole history
is in New York . . . . Now I want to get away from it for the same reason
that I wanted to move back. I'm referring to my street roots too often.
There are too many flashes of things I did as a kid which are not too
pleasant to me now."
Joyce. "Rock, Poetry, and 'Kid Energy': Jim Carroll." Elle
March 1988: 98-100.
"That Jim Carroll, basketball star at 13 and published poet at 17, was
reading some of his best new verse on MTV a few months ago is one terrific
clue as to what keeps this 35-year-old romantic antihero going." Caruso
notes that Carroll was immediately cast as the "new Rimbaud: like that
19th-century legend, Carroll wrote prophetic, hallucinatory poems, lived
a decadent life, and achieved fame shortly after puberty." The article
is primarily a biographical portrait of Carroll, from his beginnings
in the "asphalt jungle of N.Y.C.," to his basketball scholarship to
Trinity, his associations with "the Patti Smith, Allen Ginsberg, and
the Warhol set," and his later adventures as a new-wave rock star. Caruso
discusses Carroll's recent projects--an album in the works with Ray
Manzarek (the Doors), an upcoming film adaptation of The Basketball
Diaries, and The Book of Nods--and goes into some detail
describing Carroll's past work: The Basketball Diaries (Caruso
says to "Consider it the older and none-too-wiser brother of Bright
Lights, Big City and Less than Zero."), Living at the
Movies, and Catholic Boy. Caruso states that "Carroll's rock
lyrics and poetry are joined at the hip: Their concerns are the power
of sex, drugs, love, death and redemption, and their delivery is for
the most part a terse, razor-sharp street rap peppered with sudden rushes
of feeling." Caruso also notes that "performing live in front of a stadium
of shrieking groupies made one hell of a better poetry-reader out of
the once-chronically shy Jim Carroll."
Matt. "Carroll: From Poet to Rock 'n' Roller." (Philadelphia, Penn.)
Evening Bulletin 17 Dec. 1980. Newsbank, Performing Arts Index,
1980-81, fiche 101, grid F5.
Damsker previews an upcoming Jim Carroll Band concert at Philadelphia's
Bijou Cafe. The article appeared nine days after John Lennon's assassination,
and Damsker suggests that "John Lennon's death has only begun to filter
into the mythology of rock 'n' roll, but already there's a rock anthem
that can stand with the best of instant epitaphs for the slain ex-Beatle.
It's called 'People Who Died' . . ." In the first part of a telephone
interview, Carroll comments,
I understand that the day after Lennon died that song was the most
requested thing at a lot of radio stations. . . . The thing is people
have been puttin' down the song for glorifyin' death, but it really
celebrates lives. It's about people who got cut off without fulfillin'
I mean, just when John was comin' out with Yoko again, with a new
love song that had the same kind of feeling as "I Want to Hold Your
Hand," he's snuffed out. Lennon's death emphasizes that everything
can end just like that, so quickly. . .
. . Here's this guy with a gun comin' from Hawaii, and look what he
does. It's bad for New York, and it threw me into a depression. I
thought I'd be more immune to something like that.
the remainder of the interview Carroll expresses his opinions about
rock music in general. For example, he says, "Punk did a lot to kick
rock in the butt, but there was that negative side to it. . . Now I
think there's more of a need for poets to clarify things. Before, there
just wasn't the sort of despair and decay we're feeling now in America.
. . ." In his commentary, Damsker focuses primarily on Carroll's commitment
to "the rock 'n' roll life," describing Carroll's personal and literary
background to show "Carroll's odyssey certainly qualifies him for the
rock-prophet status he seems to be attaining."
Laura. "The Transformation of Jim Carroll." Musician, Player and
Listener Feb. 1981: 16+.
In her portrait, Fissinger looks at Carroll as an unwilling martyr-in-the-making,
citing models of such "sacrificial lambs" as Jim Morrison and Iggy Pop.
Fissinger suggests that
art and the things the artist becomes receptacle for get too tangled
up to judge separately anymore. The value of the art becomes
obscured, a matter of doubt--frequently before the martyr makes the
final exit, and almost always afterward. The problem for those preparing
the stake is that Carroll's demons seem to be at bay right now. Worse,
as he rides them to fame he's also doing what he can to keep
draws upon Catholic Boy and The Basketball Diaries to
make her case; the article also features what appears to be an interview
with Carroll, in which he initially discusses Henry Miller's concept
of the "inner register," and the role of poetry and rock lyrics in contemporary
America. Fissinger describes the influential role of teachers at Trinity
upon Carroll, Carroll's position as sports writer on the school paper,
the "inspiration and support" he received through the St. Mark's Poetry
Project, and Ted Berrigan's taking him to visit Jack Kerouac. The article
goes on to recount Carroll's subsequent success as a writer, his attempts
to conquer his heroin addiction, and his flight to California--where,
Carroll says, "the drug programs actually encourage you to get off."
Fissinger also mentions Carroll's meeting future wife Rosemary, who
"took him to see the front lines of the new wave in San Francisco clubs."
Carroll details his transition into rock, the formation of the Jim Carroll
Band, their rising fame among bay area audiences, and his eventually
finding Earl McGrath to produce Catholic Boy. Fissinger breaks
in to say, "It's at this point in the script that the stage directions
call for whispering noises and pointing from the crowd," noting that
"People Who Died" "started to get heavy play on a surprising number
of stations, and the journalists began to line up," even before the
release of Catholic Boy. Fissinger notes, "what copy he made:
he looked like a ghost, like he'd been dipped in white wax. He seemed
hidden, distant, and as vulnerable as a child. He was bright. He chain
smoked, pulled at his pale red hair, couldn't sit still. He talked non-stop,
in metaphors and street slang and guileless gestures, about anything
they wanted to know. Almost." Carroll explains, "It's gotten to the
point where I don't talk about drugs anymore generally, you know? And
it's all so boring now, besides. . . . you can't avoid it because it's
part of my history, and the Diaries have a lot to do with it. . . But
I don't want to dwell on it anymore. . ." The article concludes with
Carroll marking his surprise at exceeding the "cult" status he had expected:
"See, the record's starting to do past what anyone anticipated. All
the attention feels strange. But I feel like the album backs up any
kind of hype." Fissinger agrees, but remains unable to finally answer
the question she asks throughout the article: can Catholic Boy
"be considered apart from the hype and the doom freaks"?
Chet. "A Star is Borning." New York 26 Jan. 1981: 32-35.
Flippo describes Carroll's guest-appearance on the Tomorrow Show
with Tom Snyder, calling Carroll a "sort of singing poet, a street kid
alive with the rhythms of the city." But another observer in the article,
a skeptical psychic named "Lola from Budapest," emphasizes Flippo's
mixed views of Carroll; obviously Flippo is impressed with Carroll's
success, lifestyle, and personality, but perhaps isn't quite sure what
to make of him. Flippo mentions the excitement surrounding the republication
of The Basketball Diaries, the success of Catholic Boy
("an underground sensation"), and Carroll's debut at Trax in New York
(July 1980), deciding that "Carroll the poet is a far subtler and sharper
persona than Carroll the rock lyricist . . ." But, for the most part,
Flippo focuses on conversations with Carroll before and after the Tomorrow
Show, and Carroll's performance in-between. When Carroll joins his
band to sing "Wicked Gravity," Flippo does not seem impressed with the
performance: "The music, loose and raucous, had a commitment to the
rock 'n' roll tradition of exuberance and rebellion; the words were
biting and cold and totally impersonal, as detached as a commuter who
is late for the 6:23 and finds his path blocked by a blathering Moonie."
Lola from Budapest is also disturbed by the performance: "He has no
emotions. He is schizophrenic. Maybe drug addict. Maybe homosexual."
The second half of the article is by far the most interesting: Flippo's
interview with Carroll after the show. Here, Carroll discusses his experiences
working as assistant for artist Larry Rivers, his great admiration for
Frank O'Hara (whom he followed around for a day), and the reasons for
his escape to California. Carroll then explains how he came to rock
'n' roll, discussing his first performance as opening act for Patti
Smith in San Diego, and also the influence of Henry Miller's study of
Barbara. "Mean Streets." Newsweek 8 Sep. 1980: 80-81.
"Not since Lou Reed wrote "Walk on the Wild Side" has a rock singer
so vividly evoked the casual brutality of New York City as has Jim Carroll,
a 29-year-old poet-turned-rocker." Graustark discusses Carroll's success
as an up-and-coming rock star, particularly with the song "People who
Died," then goes on to describe Carroll's background under the categories
of "Basketball" and "Habit." "Basketball" begins with Carroll's boyhood
on "New York's meaner streets," where he "sampled speed, codeine cough
syrup, LSD and cocaine while still in grade school," shot heroin, and
played basketball with Lew Alcindor ("whom he claims to have taught
the sky hook"). Also briefly described here are The Basketball Diaries,
of which Graustark says Carroll's "terse wit, with its archly contrived
naivete, transformed a tale of teen-age rebellion into a contemporary
classic," and Carroll's supposed nomination for the Pulitzer Prize for
Living at the Movies. "Habit" begins, "But he grew tired of the
poetry scene--'You don't get rich writing poetry'--and of his arty friends'
romantic obsession with his heroin addiction," and describes Carroll's
1974 move to California when he "kicked" his eight-year habit. Here
Graustark talks about Carroll's metamorphosis into a rocker, Patti Smith's
influence on him, and says Catholic Boy is "Filled with imagery
that is spiritual, sexual and violent"; though, like Lou Reed and Patti
Smith, Carroll "isn't much of a singer," his songs "have a raw power."
Graustark especially praises "When the City Drops (Into the Night)"
and "Catholic Boy." The article ends saying that "To some, his songs
will sounds like glorifications of the decadent, and indeed Carroll
is carrying on the beat tradition of celebrating lives lived on the
Lynn. [Cover Story/Interview]. BAM 15 Aug. 1980: N. pag..
Divina. "A Catholic Boy." Milwaukee (Wisc.) Journal 18 Feb. 1981.
Newsbank, Performing Arts Index, 1980-81, fiche 101, grid F6-7.
Infusino announces an upcoming concert with the Jim Carroll Band and
The Boomtown Rats at the Uptown Theater in Milwaukee. Briefly summarizing
Carroll's literary triumphs with The Basketball Diaries and Living
at the Movies, Infusino mentions that "William Burroughs pronounced
him 'born to be a writer,' even though Carroll descended from three
generations of bartenders." The bulk of the article focuses on Carroll's
transition into rock music; says Infusino, "Reaching a mass audience
attracted Carroll to rock 'n' roll in the first place." In a phone interview,
Carroll remarks that he sees rock "as an extension of what I've always
done. . . The energy of rock 'n' roll is similar to what the energy
of poetry used to be. It serves the same function that poetry used to
serve, even in the traditional sense that poets used to sing." He goes
on to explain, "Rock 'n' roll is more accessible to kids than poetry.
Kids don't read poetry. In America, poetry has always been considered
wimp stuff." Infusino describes Carroll's first performance opening
for Patti Smith's, in which he "talked-sang while Smith's band played
behind him"--a technique he "carried over" on Catholic Boy. This
album's sound, Infusino says, "is fast and raucous, while Carroll recites
his lyrics in a fashion reminiscent of Dylan during his 'Bringing it
all Back Home' period." Carroll discusses songwriting and death, defending
"People Who Died" against critics who "have labeled Carroll the new
leader of the 'death cult of rock,' similar to the role Jim Morrison
of The Doors once played". He also rallies against born-again Christians:
"God has to be with them 24 hours a day, whispering stock tips in their
ear; some are in it just to serve their politics." The article concludes
with Carroll stating,
bothers me more about death is what would happen to those who love
you. As a writer, I think about my work. If I were told that I had
six months to live I would get the hell off this tour, lock myself
away during that time and get all my work in order. In the end, that's
all that really means anything to me.
Carroll." Contemporary Authors: A Bio-Bibliographical Guide to Current
Authors and Their Works Vol. 45-48. Detroit: Gale, 1974. 89.
Provides some biographical information on Carroll, including his birth
date, parents, education, career (including awards), and writings up
to 1974. However, because the volume was published in 1974, most of
this information is obsolete (Carroll's home address and his agent's
address, for example), and some is incorrect: under "Work in Progress,"
The Book of Nods is cited as The Book of Gods.
Carroll." Contemporary Literary Criticism: Excerpts from Criticism
of the Works of Today's Novelists, Poets, Playwrights, and Other Creative
Writers. Ed. Carolyn Riley. Vol. 35. Detroit: Gale, 1985. 77-81.
Includes an essay describing Carroll's work from 1967 to 1984, briefly
summarizing The Basketball Diaries and Catholic Boy, noting
comments by Jack Kerouac and Ted Berrigan. The major part of the article
is devoted to thirteen critical reviews of Carroll's work from various
sources, reprinted in whole or in part. (Note that the first concert
review by Fred Kirby is about a different Jim Carroll, as the
poet Jim Carroll had not performed on stage musically as of 1971.)
Carroll: Catholic Boy." Billboard 20 Dec. 1980: 44.
Apparently a promotional plug under the heading of "New on the Charts,"
this article describes Carroll's background from age 12, when he started
writing poetry, up to the album Catholic Boy. Briefly mentioned
are The Basketball Diaries, Carroll's move to San Francisco,
his concert opening for Patti Smith in San Diego, and his subsequent
forming of the Jim Carroll Band. The article provides an address for
a booking agent, Steve Jensen, and other (probably obsolete) promotional
Gary. "Carroll's Got an Interesting Story." New Haven (Conn.) Register
27 Feb. 1981. Newsbank, Performing Arts Index, 1980-81, fiche 101, grid
Announcing Carroll's concert at Toad's in New Haven, Kenton begins his
comprehensive portrait with the observation that "For most people, reaching
age 30 is no great achievement. However, Jim Carroll has squeezed a
lot of action into his three decades, most of it near the edge of disaster.
The mere fact that he is alive represents a victory of sorts." Describing
Carroll's "toughest and bleakest of childhoods," Kenton says "Carroll's
ability to write saved his life, giving him an outlet for expressing,
and ultimately transcending the horrors of growing up in an environment
of poverty, booze, broken homes, debauchery, and crime." "The natural,
incessant rhythm of his prose, together with the deceptive childlike
simplicity of his style," naturally led to Carroll's venture into rock
music. Kenton designates Patti Smith as the prototype for this endeavor
(also noting that Carroll and Smith lived together for several years,
and collaboratively wrote The Book of Nods): like Smith, Carroll
"uses rock 'n' roll as a means to get across his lyrics," he is "by
no means a good singer . . . and he makes no effort to smooth the rough
edges." Explains Kenton,
is more interested in stretching the boundaries of rock, in taking
risks with it, than in virtuosity or professionalism. Although he
is vulnerable to the same attacks of amateurism that befell Smith,
he seems to be answering the critics in the same way. By using a basic
rock 'n roll assault and putting all the emphasis on his lyrics. For
the most part, he seems to be pulling it off.
large portion of the article seems to be an interview in which Carroll
discusses his learning experience in the technical aspects of rock music
("Learning about music keeps me from getting bored"), defends "People
Who Died" against accusations that the song glorifies drugs and death,
and explains his reasons for going into rock. Says Carroll, "Basically,
with rock there's a much better chance at creating some magic than there
is at poetry readings. The energy from the audience at a concert is
incredible. . . It takes you out of yourself." Citing Carroll's appearance
on Fridays, Kenton comments that "Carroll does not always appear
to be quite at ease on stage." Carroll argues:
mistake intensity for nervousness. My lyrics are very personal and
I get very hyper when I deliver them on stage. It's like I'm putting
all my vulnerabilities up front and a lot of people are just watchin'
out of curiosity. I always say, "I'm here to give you my heart and
you want some fashion show."
concludes that, "Like Smith, Carroll will have to spend a lot of time
in the early stages of his musical career living down his hype. But
the same toughness that allowed him to be 'redeemed through pain' to
survive a nightmare childhood should stand him in good stead."
Susan. "100 American Seducers On Their Craft & Sullen Art." Rolling
Stone 16 Aug. 1973: 42-49.
Features photos of and brief statements (about 50 words each) from 100
contemporary American poets, including Carroll. The article's introduction
without number are being written in every corner of this country.
They go--most of them--unsolicited, unread, unpaid-for. . . . Poets
write things down in order to charm people. There's almost no commercial
market in this country for poetry. For charm, yes. But rarely charm
for its own sake. The difference is between "let me charm you into
loving me" and "let me charm you into buying my product."
John. Penthouse March 1981: 140+.
Milward's portrait/interview is exceptionally comprehensive, containing
some of Carroll's most detailed statements regarding his Catholic school
education, his heroin addiction and the events leading to his breaking
the habit; he also elaborates on some ideas mentioned in The Basketball
Diaries. Milward adds a great deal of information not elsewhere
documented; for example, in recounting Carroll's move to Bolinas, Milward
describes the genesis of Carroll's relationship with Rosemary and their
marriage. Although Carroll's heroin addiction works as a distinct theme,
the article goes far beyond focusing on one aspect of Carroll's history.
Milward's commentary weaves through all of Carroll's works, highlighting
his many incarnations. The article begins:
Carroll stands before an overflow audience at New York's Public Theater,
flipping through The Basketball Diaries . . . Slipping into
his sidewalk prose, Carroll slowly peels 16 years off his gaunt, burnt-angel
frame like a carving knife skinning an onion. But there are no tears.
. . .
goes on to describe Carroll leading the Jim Carroll Band through their
New York debut, where "the most famous ex-junkie," Keith Richards of
the Rolling Stones, joins Carroll on stage for "People Who Died." Using
the song as a springboard, Milward comments:
the audience are those who didn't die, those who remember Jim as a
15-year-old junkie poet marching alongside Allen Ginsberg (who thought
he was pretty) to protest the Vietnam War or shadowing Frank O'Hara
through Manhattan streets in search of the midtown muse that created
the Lunch Poems.
most unique aspect of Milward's article is its extensive interview with
Carroll. First, Carroll express his admiration of a certain nun, Sister
Victoise, who was his teacher in the third grade:
reminded me of Saint Theresa, and I hung out after school with her
because I was finding out about someone who I didn't understand. It
was like hanging out with a good ballplayer to learn new moves--I
got this radiance from her, a sweet sense about grace and living your
life with compassion. . . She showed me the inner register.
also discusses two entries from The Basketball Diaries. Regarding
the "presence of a cheetah rather than a chimp" he recommends in The
Basketball Diaries, Carroll remarks, "I remember seeing the movie
Shane . . . and imagining myself as both the innocent kid and
the wizened gunfighter. . ."; also, "The last line of the Diaries--'I
just want to be pure,'" Carroll notes, "came because I was trying to
find purity in decay. Other junkies were oblivion seekers . . . but
I wanted to see what oblivion was like without staying in that pit.
. ." Milward explains that Carroll lost his virginity at age 12, and
Carroll talks about some adolescent sexual adventures. Carroll goes
on to describe his experiences as a male prostitute (Milward remarks,
"Carroll wasn't a very good hustler"), and discusses his heroin addiction
in detail. Later, Carroll describes following Frank O'Hara around for
a day, his initiation into the Lower East Side arts scene in New York
and his ever-growing heroin addiction. He goes on to recount the frightening
events which led to his enrolling in a methadone treatment program,
and describes in detail the physical and psychological process of heroin
withdrawal. His move to California was a very positive one; as Carroll
explains, in Bolinas,
was getting used to boredom and learning to use it. I wasn't around
people, only dogs, and I liked the life I was leading, and it didn't
require any junk. I finally decided that there would be some advantages
to getting off junk . . . . What helped me was the realization that
you can never go home again. . . . suddenly I felt detached, and the
only thing that sustained me was my work.
details Carroll's lifestyle in Bolinas and early relationship with
Rosemary, who lived next door to Carroll with her husband; she was
"slowly recuperating from a near-fatal motorcycle accident and would
come to use the bathroom in Jim's house." Carroll says,
night I was sitting out in the yard, spacing with my dogs, when I
noticed Rosemary. She stood up against the moon in a white gown that
shook my spine. It was my vision of the Virgin, or at least a top-of-the-line
saint, and she walked me over the hills and into San Francisco and
from isolation to rock 'n' roll.
goes on to discuss Carroll's initiation into rock, his opening for Patti
Smith in San Diego, the formation of the Jim Carroll Band, and Carroll's
marriage to Rosemary. The last part of the article focuses on Carroll's
present (in 1981) lifestyle. Milward comments upon the reminders of
Carroll's past abuses (with Carroll describing the bursting of an abscess),
noting that he "has never been one to hide his wounds, and though he
stands by Blake's belief that 'the road of excess leads to the palace
of wisdom,' he understands the trap of his own reputation." Carroll
remarks that "It's dangerous to let your exploits speak for you . .
. It's a waste of talent, and it's a sin"; he goes on to discuss the
dangers of heroin addiction with regard to "weekend dilettantes," who
"think heroin is like cocaine in its limited ability to take you out,
but it's an insidious motherfucker. Sooner or later the habit's gonna
getcha. . ." Finally, Milward mentions Carroll's father's reaction to
The Basketball Diaries ("I found it rather dry"), and says that
Carroll, "By stripping himself bare. . . shoots his art straight into
the main line, daring his audience to let the wind run through their
veins." Milward describes the Carrolls's apartment as littered with
notebooks, "with scraps of language headed for a second volume of diaries,
a collection of new poems that will supplement a reissued edition of
Living at the Movies, and any number of unwritten books, poems,
and songs." States Milward, "Carroll might sing that 'vision's just
a costly infection,' but it's the safest narcotic he knows, and he's
stalking the rock stage like a playground punk looking for an open shot."
Mark J. "Jim Carroll's Rock 'n' Roll Heart-On." Creem March 1981:
In an interview, Carroll discusses at length the intent behind his lyrics
("I don't wanna have any subjective interpretations of my lyrics. I
leave them so they can be interpreted through the heart . . ."), the
"stigma attached to poetry," the "incestuousness" of poets writing for
other poets, and the role of poetry in a "decaying world." He also addresses,
with disgust, the comparative issues of nuclear power, starving children,
and saving the whales ("I'd love to be one of those Green Peace guys
who stand in front of the harpoon boats and stop 'em from killing whales.
But I'd rather do a benefit concert to put food in these kids' mouths").
Moving on to the subject of rock 'n' roll, Carroll talks about the Velvet
Underground, and says getting "turned on to Bob Dylan" was a pivotal
point in The Basketball Diaries: "Before that I listened to Dion,
Roy Orbison, street music, a cappella music, the Drifters. I liked Lesley
Gore." The interviewer asks Carroll about the author's note in The
Basketball Diaries, in which Carroll quotes Hassan Sabah: "Nothing
is true. Everything is permitted"; Carroll also uses this line in the
song "Nothing is True." Carroll discusses his use of the quotation,
noting that "Burroughs has quoted that line so much it's kinda like
public domain"; he also comments that "Hassan was a real cocksucker."
The last part of the interview is devoted to Carroll's feelings about
Catholicism and his defense of "People Who Died." In conclusion, the
reviewer asks if Carroll thinks "his poetry would eventually smother
his rock 'n' roll, a la Patti Smith?" Carroll replies, "Well, if it
does . . . it'll be a great way for my rock 'n' roll to go."
Clarice. "The Catholic Boy Confesses: Jim Carroll." Interview
Jan. 1980: 54-55.
Rivers briefly summarizes Carroll's literary career up to The Book
of Nods and Catholic Boy; however, her interview with Carroll
focuses entirely on the events in his life since The Basketball Diaries,
beginning with his move to Bolinas. Rivers's questions (like "What else?"
and "Describe how Patti Smith . . . got you on stage singing for the
first time . . .") prompt Carroll to simply keep talking, and his response
here seems, for the most part, less formulaic than in many other interviews.
Carroll discusses his "learning to enjoy boredom for the first time
in my life" in Bolinas, saying that he wrote "two books and another
book of poems. Towards the end I worked pretty much on writing rock
lyrics." He also mentions a book of prose poems and a book of short
stories, and says, "I might take this book of poems which has about
60 pages and the best of some of my old poems and make that a book."
Carroll talks about his dogs, his feelings about rock 'n' roll, his
first performance in San Diego, the formation of the Jim Carroll Band,
and relates an anecdote about a poetry reading with Patti Smith that
didn't work out. The Basketball Diaries are briefly described,
and Carroll goes on to talk about a second set of diaries in the works;
at this time the diaries are in note form, and he is planning to cover
the period from ages 19 to 23. Rivers asks why Carroll called his album
Catholic Boy, and Carroll replies that "I wanted to call it Dry
Dream because I really don't like the kind of attitude of rock and
roll that is so dominated by sexual images--it's a kind of cock rock.
. . So rather than a wet dream these songs are dry dreams." Carroll
also names "People Who Died" as one of his favorite songs on Catholic
Boy and, with Rivers's prodding, talks about his many friends who
died in Vietnam (eleven of 40 kids who graduated with him from Catholic
grammar school). Toward the end of the interview, Carroll discusses
the social and personal environment he works best in, and his continuing
association with friends from the New York school of poetry.
Burr. "Poetry to an Ex-Door's Jam." San Francisco (Ca.) Examiner
25 Nov. 1988. Newsbank, Performing Arts Index, 1989, fiche 11, grid
Snider discusses an upcoming "evening of poetry, prose, and music" with
Carroll, Ray Manzarek, and Michael McClure at the Fillmore in San Francisco,
focusing primarily on Manzarek and McClure (particularly their association
with Jim Morrison of the Doors). Snider interviews McClure and refers
to recent reading tours; Carroll is mentioned only peripherally, regarding
his "joining forces" with Manzarek and McClure, and his works--The
Basketball Diaries, Forced Entries, and Catholic Boy.
S. "Rapping with a Catholic Boy." Melody Maker 18 July
with Jim Carroll is like taking your first verbal free-fall parachute
jump--what looks like it's gonna be some relaxed drift across the
rock 'n' roll landscape, can suddenly accelerate into an alarming,
up-rushing stream of brutal, buffeting images so swift, so stunningly
honest you invariably turn chicken, tug the chord, interrupt and
pull up with the next safety-catch question.
details his personal impressions of Carroll, as Carroll discusses such
topics as drugs ("What I was doing was not escaping from anything .
. . I was too young for that"), the fact that he thinks of his persona
in The Basketball Diaries "in the third person," "People Who
Died" ("It was a really painful song to do"), his reasons for going
into rock, and his ambitions in songwriting.
here for updates
at the Movies
Seamus. Rev. of Living at the Movies. Library Journal
98 (1973): 3270.
In a decidedly negative review, Cooney says "Don't miscalculate: avoid
this book." The poems, he claims, are
ranging in models from "the portentous pseudo reference of John Ashbery
to the flat trivialities of Ted Berrigan--the whole gamut from A to
B in fact. Not one moves or delights, and as for teaching--well, the
outlook on life conveyed is the shallowest hedonism based on dope
Fragment," Cooney says, "has more point than many in the book and shows
fairly the pretensions to seriousness, the inertness of rhythm and language,
and the utter banality of effect."
Gerard. "Traveling & Living." Rev. of Living at the Movies.
Poetry 125.3 (1974): 162-65.
"The great thing about the work of a genuine poet is the atmosphere
which it creates in the mind of the reader . . . Jim Carroll at twenty-five
is a genuine poet as surely as Rod McKuen and Rod Taylor are not." Malanga
comments that the poems "seem roughly to group themselves into 'general'
poems, usually longer, where a subject is viewed from many different
angles and states of consciousness, and the 'specific,' where something
is seen whole in a flash." He goes on to say that Carroll's technique
"is in advance of his maturity," as at times "he is capable of spoiling
a good poem by a precious or very little sentimental line . . . but
never of trying to make one out of any emotion that is not an integral
part of his own deep feeling." Like Cooney above, Malanga cites "A Fragment,"
but, in contrast to Cooney, says that in such a poem "the vision is
so strong that there is no craftiness and the medium of poetry gives
way to an idea that can't wait for doctoring-up to be born a flawless
declarative sentence. That fast kind of poetry is always the best kind
of writing." Also noted here is the tempting comparison between Carroll
and Frank O'Hara: says Malanga, "Carroll's poems are not so perfect
as O'Hara's nor his vision so intense. While there's nothing extremely
deep in the experimental and phenomenological sense, his range is wider
than O'Hara's; his feelings not deeper, but made general . . ." Malanga
believes that Carroll "has the sure confidence of a true artist, meaning
he is confident about the right things. He is steeped in his craft .
. . His beginning is a triumph." Also reviewed is Traveling on Credit,
by Daniel Halpern.
Jamie. Rev. of The Basketball Diaries. American Book Review
2.3 (1980): 9.
The Basketball Diaries . . . is a literary miracle; a description
of the formation of an artistic sensibility written by the artist, not
in retrospect, but in the process. It is a portrait of the artist not
just as a young man but as a child, written by the child, and thus free
of the mature artist's complicated romantic love of himself in pain.
describes the way in which The Basketball Diaries have been "leaked
one and two at a time" to poetry journals over the years, "surrounding
the work with the atmosphere of legend." Of The Basketball Diaries's
first publication in 1978, James says, "It makes a difference, seeing
it all together . . . it bears out one's ongoing suspicion that there's
more here than the swaggering bravado of a smart kid grown up all wrong."
Comparing Carroll to Rimbaud, James cites the latter's remark that "The
soul has to be made monstrous," and states that "if one word describes
what happens in the Diaries, it is monstrous." But unlike Rimbaud,
"There is nothing so calculated about Jim Carroll's excursion to the
inferno . . . He is only obliquely aware that he is a writer, which
is exactly the genius of it." Although The Basketball Diaries
"is not literature, in the usual sense," James says it is a "great work
of storytelling . . . a harmonious blend of funny passages and depressing
passages. When it is funny, it is hilarious . . . when it hits a blue
note, it is harrowing."
Mark J. "The Wide World of Drugs." Rev. of The Basketball Diaries.
Creem April 1980: 46-47.
"The topic of drug consumption has been chronicled throughout the ages
by many different people in many different ways," Norton comments, listing
several songs, movies and books with drug themes. The topic may seem
redundant, he continues, "what with everyone and his camel waxing poetic
on their various chemical indulgences and abuses, but this young street
hero Jim Carroll offers a unique perspective, that being the wide world
of drugs as experienced by an athletic adolescent." Citing approving
remarks by Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, and Patti Smith, Norton
it is the kiss of death to be blessed by the gods so quickly . . .
. Not so with this guy, though.
his eyes we see a boy who loves basketball and drugs with equal passion,
and speaks of both in the same sentence. Bizarre, to be sure, but
a helluva lot easier to understand than Burroughs.
summarizes the basic action of the book, noting that "Throughout his
travels from one end of [Manhattan] to the other, he meets and deals
with just about every mutated human subspecies--and in Manhattan, that
is a pretty wide field." But the "meat of The Basketball Diaries,"
Norton says, "Involves Carroll's drug adventures. Yeah, I know, junkie
rap is junkie rap is junkie rap, but Jim Carroll transcends the obvious
and delivers a novel that is alternately funny, sexual and horrifying
. . . " Norton continues, "This has all been written about before, but
it is fresh through the eyes of a thirteen-year-old, who shot heroin
before he smoked dope because he thought the evil weed was addictive.
Thumbs up, Jim." The review ends with a note announcing Carroll's first
Bart. "Jim Carroll's Basketball Diaries: Street Cool Huck Finn
Dope Diary." Overthrow 14.2 (1980): 19.
In a suitably "hip" style, Platenga discusses the merits of The Basketball
Diaries as "a very viable even desirable political course." "Here's
a guy barely in his teens getting right to the heart of the matter .
. . It's a truly anarchistic view stated in a clear non-euphemistic
and uncompromising way." Platenga mentions Carroll's relationship with
Patti Smith, Living at the Movies, and the "stir" caused when
excerpts from Diaries appeared in Paris Review. (At the
time of this review, he also tells us, Carroll is 29, married, and living
in Bolinas.) Of the upcoming release of Catholic Boy, Platenga
says, "That and the diaries should give everyone plenty to bite
into." Quoting liberally from The Basketball Diaries, Platenga
does provide some insights into Diaries from the viewpoint of
the book's original audience, the "underground":
is a world of action. Bragging about action. Action becomes Epiphany.
Gems of illumination just fall into his lap. To see clearly one has
to DO. The only way to DO is to SEE clearly . . . His irreverent veracity
cuts right to the smegmatized genitals of the whole adult technocratic
dildo. Genuine contempt for real world recruitment--the college-suburb
route. Their version just won't do.
Book of Nods
H. Rev. of The Book of Nods. Choice 24.2 (1986): 302.
The brief review states the following, verbatim:
is at his best when his is on the New York Streets playing a Rimbaud-Vallejo
poete maudit. Sometimes he almost achieves a perfect blend
of rebel and language. But most of the time he is too "adorned," too
consciously poetic. If he wants to be street he has to be street--not
just a parlor academic out to vacuum up a little real life. For graduate
Daniel L. Rev. of The Book of Nods. Library Journal 15
Apr. 1985: 84.
In a brief review (approximately 90 words), Guillory says that "Carroll's
prose poems are "like verbal equivalents of Dali's paintings: a man
vomits the hands of a clock (in "Silent Money") and a cat jumps into
a mirror (in "Watching the Schoolyard"). However, these gaps soon lose
their shock value, and "Carroll sometimes fails to create a meaningful
context for his images." More successful are Carroll's lyric poems,
such as "A Night Outing." "New York Variations" and "California Variations"
are also mentioned as amounting to "interlocking meditations on urban
landscapes . . ." Guillory concludes that "The Book of Nods is
always interesting if sometimes uneven."
Denise. "A Poet Laureate For All Occasions." Rev. of The Book of
Nods. Kansas City (Missouri) Star 8 June 1986. Newsbank,
Literature Index, 1986, fiche 2, grid F1.
Low calls Carroll "More a poet who also sings," mentioning Carroll's
three albums and one video. "He writes surreal snatches of experiences
laced with street life . . . Odd syntax makes his work alogical." Low
goes on to say Carroll's prose poems (nods) "are like fables, but peopled
with anti-heroes. 'Rimbaud Scenes' celebrates the artist-protagonist
who suffers from love of beauty rather than a dentist's ministrations."
"The publisher hails Mr. Carroll as the poet laureate of rock 'n' roll.
Only time can formalize the title, but he joins two bona fide poets
laureate, [Robert Penn] Warren and [Steve] Mason. In each case, these
poets speak outside the English classroom to unexpected audiences."
Also reviewed here is Johnny's Song: Poetry of a Vietnam Veteran,
by Steve Mason.
John. Rev of The Book of Nods. Publishers Weekly 4 Apr.
In a negative review, Mutter says the poems and prose pieces in The
Book of Nods "show exposure to Borges, Kafka, particularly Rimbaud--the
romantic, drug-taking exception to all rules who has stymied many scholars
and led many bright children astray." He goes on to say that Carroll
has "pretty much outworn" the "jejune decadence" which was the original
attraction of Carroll in Living at the Movies, and that The
Book of Nods is "wincingly embarrassing"; "a bad example of serious
talent destroyed over the years by negligence and disregard for self-discipline."
William. "The Way They Were in Greenwich Village." Rev. of Forced
Entries. Los Angeles Times Book Review 18 Oct. 1987: 10.
Carroll's "junk-induced dreams and downtown adventures have inspired
writings--beautiful ravings, actually--that are ornate and harrowingly
stark." Hochswender describes Carroll's "adventures," quoting liberally
from Forced Entries (for example, "Times Square's Cage" is quoted
in its entirety), noting that "Carroll moves from swish to swank with
ease." Also, Hochswender points out that "His memoir has some documentary
value--meetings with remarkable men, everyone from Bob Dylan, Allen
Ginsberg and Ted Berrigan to Terry Southern, W. H. Auden and the KGB,
are sharply drawn," and that Carroll establishes links between the "happenings"
of the 1960s and today's performance art. "But the real attraction of
Carroll," Hochswender says, "is the energy of his language, whether
applied to fantastically baroque nods or to mundane urban realities."
As in any diary, Carroll sometimes seems "full of himself, and, as a
consequence, full of something else," but "When, ultimately, Carroll
finds his redemption in California, detoxing in . . . Bolinas, we sense
that enormity of the underground experience, as lived, in ways a documentary
history can only grope for." Also reviews Down and In: Life in the
Underground, by Ronald Sukenick.
Margo. "Bringing It All Back Home: 'Sixties' Voices in the 'Eighties."
Rev. of Forced Entries. Vogue July 1987: 110.
In a somewhat jaded manner, Jefferson simultaneously reviews Forced
Entries and Joan Baez's And a Voice to Sing With, contrasting
the two writers' backgrounds, lifestyles, and claims to fame. The reviewer
finds common ground in the two books as "Baez and Carroll do manage
to meet smack-dab in the middle of our 1980s' obsession with image,
publicity, self-justification, and self-congratulation. . . . Both name-drop,
and both have a need to refine and retouch their personas that is exasperating."
She goes on to say that "Baez isn't a writer. Jim Carroll is. True,
he's florid and narcissistic, but he's also quick, canny, and good at
shaping scenes." Jefferson concludes,
Carroll and Baez long for glory, as performers and cultural emblems.
. . Me, I'm left a bit queasy, for I think I've just spotted two of
our oldest, most intractable icons. What we have here is the archetypal
Good Mother versus the archetypal Bad Boy. And considering the cultural
shifts and ruptures of the last thirty years . . . I can't help asking
. . . is that all there is?"
John. Rev. of Forced Entries. Publishers Weekly 5 June
Carroll is "a sui generis admixture of street-wise punk, naif
and pseudointellectual," and "while his poetry leaves something to be
desired, this diary-like account of his adventure in the kinky wonderland
of the avant-garde scene in Alphabet City and the Lower East Side .
. . is a dead-on hit that bears comparison to William Burroughs' classic
Junky." Mutter describes "Carroll's underworld of loft parties
and art scene events," mentioning the Chelsea Hotel, Max's Kansas City,
Andy Warhol's Factory, and the Poetry Project at St. Mark's, and says
that "When Carroll is not busy scoring dope or sex, he is scoring celebrities,
but his peculiar aura of choirboy innocence transforms even the most
decadent happenings into a good-natured romp." Mutter concludes that
Carroll "is a marvelous storyteller and even the strained and artificial
'poetic' style that dampens his somewhat contrived verse works here
to utterly charming effect."
of Forced Entries. Jim Kobak's Kirkus Reviews 55.9 (1987):
This review calls Forced Entries "A slice of the debauched life
of poet Carroll at the tail end of the 60's, before he embarked on a
second, dual career as a rock singer." Living at the Movies and
The Basketball Diaries are mentioned, and the review notes that
Carroll here "picks up the story as he's living at the Chelsea Hotel
. . ." Various figures who "come and go," and the "variety of truly
peculiar jobs" Carroll holds are noted, and the reviewer suggests that
"For readers hell-bent on self-destruction, there are a lot of handy
tips here--the proper procedures for shooting heroin, the etiquette
of hop parties . . . ." The review concludes:
sense of humor occasionally makes a welcome intrusion into the sleazy
grandeur of street scenes and 60's cliches, and his prose often flashes
with genuine intensity and wit; but there's surprisingly little here
about poetry, poets, or what Carroll might disdainfully refer to as
the intellectual of literary. Shame.
Mark. "The Cockroach Chronicles." Rev. of Forced Entries. New
York Times Book Review 2 Aug. 1987, sec. 7: 8.
Stevens says Forced Entries "provides plenty of diverting tinsel,"
enumerating Carroll's activities at the Factory and Max's Kansas City,
but "Mr. Carroll aspires to something weightier, however--a story of
struggle and redemption." After running through an account of Carroll's
escape to California and methadone treatment, though, Stevens decides
that "The tinsel is better. In a chatty '60s style, peppered with the
customary profanity, Mr. Carroll jokes around, cuts up, takes a wry
view and is quick with the quip." In less lighthearted passages, Carroll's
writing "cannot sustain this more serious tone. There is, to begin with,
a failure of craft . . ." states Stevens; "Often the prose is heated
to an adolescent purple." "The walk on the wild side--understood as
a spiritual passage--is a commonplace of modern writing. So is the assumption
that being down and out and anxious is a fascinating, even superior
condition. Because he asks no questions of these cliches, Mr. Carroll
cannot restore them to life."
The Basketball Diaries and Forced Entries
Peter. "A Follow-Through Beyond The Hoop." Rev. of Forced Entries.
San Francisco (California) Examiner and Chronicle 12 July 1987.
Newsbank, Literature Index, 1987, fiche 15, grid E3-4.
Delacorte looks at Forced Entries as a continuation of The
Basketball Diaries; thus he indirectly reviews both books. The
Basketball Diaries, he says, "Was an extraordinary piece of work--an
account of four years, more or less, in the life of a kid growing up
in New York City . . . The kid happened to be a basketball star, a thief,
a male prostitute and an incipient junkie, so there was plenty of action
and things got plenty lurid." He seems quite impressed that "most
of this cool, nihilistic, terrific stuff really was composed by a kid
no older than 16." However, in Forced Entries, with Carroll now
an adult, "[Carroll's] life is nowhere near as interesting as it was
back in the mid-'60s, but it's still consistently weird . . ." Delacorte
goes on to say, "If 'Basketball Diaries' was 'Oliver Twist' projected
into the late 20th century, then 'Downtown Diaries' is a sort of rococo
and very hip Liz Smith column, with Carroll as both gossip columnist
and central character." While quoting liberally from Forced Entries,
Delacorte tries to decide whether or not the book is actually good,
always comparing it to The Basketball Diaries: "Five years under
the bridge and not much has changed, evidently." Although Forced
Entries has its "vivid little moments," Delacorte "kept expecting
something else, some substance that never arrived. 'Basketball
Diaries' was a sort of perverse bildungsroman; we may not have
been pleased by its developments, but they did occur. Here [in Forced
Entries], there is rather languid movement in no particular direction
until, a few months in, Carroll starts talking about moving out to a
little town in Northern California to kick his habit . . . . for the
next 30 pages the book is incessantly boring, because Carroll is a fish
out of water. In its meandering way, the book has been leading to this:
the rite of purification, the great battle against the 'small pink simian'
that holds Carroll captive. But nothing happens." Even though Delacorte
notes that, "Ironically, the happy ending that didn't come in 'Basketball
Diaries' has . . . sneaked into the final pages of 'Downtown Diaries,'
he concludes that "unfortunately we don't care nearly as much for the
1973 Jim Carroll as we had about the kid he'd been."
Christopher. "Books of the Times." Rev. of The Basketball Diaries
and Forced Entries. New York Times 9 July 1987: C23.
"Jim Carroll is a poet and rock musician in his mid-30's who grew up
in several poor sections of Manhattan, the son and grandson of Irish
Catholic bartenders. In the fall of 1963, when he was all of 13 years
old, he began keeping a diary," the review begins. Lehmann-Haupt notes
that "The diary project proved successful," running through the work's
publishing history and saying that it "created something of a sensation"
upon its first publication in book form "for its hair-raising portrait
of adolescent street life in New York." Lehmann-Haupt says The Basketball
Diaries "was not a book that seemed likely to produce a sequel,"
citing its accounts of sex, drugs, and crime; "But behold, a sequel
has now been published." Lehmann-Haupt summarizes several aspects of
Forced Entries, including Carroll's regretting "having thrown
away his basketball career," his escapades at Max's Kansas City and
the Factory, and his circle of artsy friends. Says Lehmann-Haupt, "The
voice is grown up now. There are occasional vestiges of its origins
. . . but the whine and the adolescent strutting are gone . . . . He
is reaching for something deeper now. Instead of hip talk, he's trying
for poetry." Lehmann-Haupt goes on to say that "Instead if teenage bravado,
he writes of violent suicide, of 'evil as a pervasive entity,' and of
the emptiness of adolescent fantasies." Still, the two diaries are similar
"in their quest for extreme sensations and their eagerness to shock
the reader . . . . One is aware almost throughout that the author is
more intelligent than he appears and that he takes a certain pride in
dissipating his gifts." Carroll "finally gains control of himself" by
overcoming his heroin addiction--though "the image with which he dramatizes
his victory will disgust many readers . . . . But readers who can stomach
the ending . . . will find it both effective and convincing." The reviewer
goes on to cite Carroll's successful writing and musical career as evidence
of Carroll's redemption, concluding that "whether or not one believes
Carroll's redemption, his two diaries constitute a remarkable account
of New York City's lower depths."
Tony. "2 Sets of 'Diaries' Show Off New York City's Seediness." (Harrisburg,
Pennsylvania) Patriot 26 July 1987. Newsbank, Literature Index,
1987, fiche 15, grid E5-6.
Perry observes, "There is a reason why Jim Carroll has never been asked
to contribute to Fodor's travel guide to New York City . . . . What
he has to say about the place . . . would scare away the most adventurous
traveler." Reviewing both The Basketball Diaries and Forced
Entries, Perry notes that "At times the reader is made to feel downright
voyeuristic from the confines of his easy chair" and the fact that the
stories are not only true, but also told from first-hand experience
makes them "all the more harrowing." The Basketball Diaries "is
not entirely pleasant reading . . . and Jim Carroll . . . is a cocky,
arrogant street punk who runs from his own shadow and is totally unhappy
with his lot in life." "As a character study," Perry says, "'The Basketball
Diaries' is an frank depiction of juvenile delinquency at its worst."
About Forced Entries, Perry discusses Carroll's admission that
the second book was creatively embellished, "which could lead many to
the conclusion that his first set of diaries was embellished as well
with the arrogant swagger of an adolescent boy." Forced Entries,
he says, is a "much more literal book," and its "convincing, if unconventional
and thoroughly disgusting, ending leaves the reader with a vivid image
of a man trying to purge himself of what he calls a sickness he took
years to perfect." Perry finds Carroll's name dropping irritating, but
says the book as a whole "makes for a good way to pass the time on the
beach or by the pool, but should be avoided by anyone offended by strong
language." At the end of the article, Perry mentions that Carroll is
a "rock singer in the mold of Lou Reed . . . "
here for updates
J. "Jim Carroll's Second Coming." Rev. of Catholic Boy. Village
Voice 17 Dec. 1980: 96+.
In a combination album and concert review (the Jim Carroll Band at Trax),
Farber says, "Catholic Boy is hardly an album of simplistic survivor
cliches"; that "Carroll uses a healthy present-tense perspective on
his self-destructive past to debunk any shallow glorification of his
poetic-junkie myth . . ." However, Farber's impression isn't predominantly
positive: Carroll "too often portrays himself as the cartoonish, hiply
elitist bum of The Basketball Diaries," and is "sometimes flashing his
credentials to entertain and impress." Farber seems unimpressed with
"I Want the Angel," but notes that "at least the piece takes its own
hokiness into account"; "It's Too Late" receives conditional praise
(Carroll's stand is "sarcastic if somewhat moralistic"). Farber comments
that "Carroll's self-awareness makes him likeable, [but] his egocentrism
both musical and lyrical has an off-putting effect," going on to point
out the many flaws in Carroll's "talky singing voice," music, lyrics,
and his performance at Trax--in which Carroll "created an unintentional
gap from his audience with his pale, pained look and his apparent internalization
of his own stories . . ." The review concludes by praising "People Who
Died," stating that "Carroll's at his most poignant in the one track
where his characters are more than mere props for his internal visions."
Farber notes some of these characters are "mentioned in 'When the City
Drops . . .,' but Carroll's braggadocio stripped them of their humanity.
Here he 'exploits' his own violent myth without cockiness or self-pity."
William. "Latest 'Urban Poet" Singer Fails with 'Catholic Boy"." Rev.
of Catholic Boy. (Little Rock) Arkansas Gazette 17 May 1981.
Newsbank, Performing Arts Index, 1981-82, fiche 34, grid B5.
In a combined review, Lou Reed's Rock and Roll Diary: 1967-1980
overshadows the discussion of Catholic Boy, as Green repeatedly
ranks Carroll against Reed. When he is not making comparisons, Green
a former heroin junkie who has written and published poetry from an
early age has been hailed in Newsweek, Musician, Interview,
and other national journals. The attention is enough to make you suspicious.
The album is fair, at best.
complains about the lack of a lyric sheet in the album, and says, "it
is difficult, on first listen, anyway, to hear the words"; he goes on
to say that "People Who Died" is "effective, in a way." "Catholic Boy"
contains some of Carroll's best lines, and, "There are some softer numbers
that are appealing. One, 'Day and night,' has a lovely melody and a
Buddy Holly sound; another, 'City Drops Into the Night,' has more good
lines that pop out good images." Green concludes, "I wouldn't write
off Jim Carroll, but in this, his debut album, style, a kind of posing,
seems to get in the way of content."
Patrick. Rev. of Catholic Boy. Melody Maker 27 June 1981:
Humphries opens with a mock-derogatory comment on New York rock in general:
York rock is different. New York rock is hard, abrasive. Urgent voices
over lobotomized guitars, the sound of the street, rising up above
the klaxons, between the tenements and sucked by the air conditioners
into apartments where--when they hear the word "culture"--they reach
for the record deck.
reviewer lists some of New York's noted rock performers (the Velvet
Underground, the New York Dolls, the Ramones), then: "Along comes the
Jim Carroll Band, another in that same sleazy tradition. . . . they
weigh in with a brash, sneeringly confident debut." Humphries compares
"Catholic Boy" to Bruce Springsteen's "Lost in the Flood," and says,
"'People Who Died' hangs around in bleak Ramones territory." It is difficult
to hear the lyrics over the guitars, Humphries comments, suggesting
a lyric sheet would help. The reviewer concludes, "It's the harsh aggressive
sound of the city, punk with panache, but lacking the killer graces
to make the debut album a real nugget."
of Catholic Boy. Playboy May 1981: 39.
The brief review states, verbatim:
days, if you give your regards to Broadway, you stand a good chance
of getting either propositioned by male hustlers or mugged by junkies.
The Jim Carroll Band's Catholic Boy (Atco) reflects the new
New York in word pictures of its seamier side. Carroll's lyrics, backed
by straight ahead rock 'n' roll, are some of the most powerful to
come out of that city since Lou Reed was in his heyday. It figures:
Carroll lived the life he sings about, having been a hustler/junkie.
The result is a celebration of sex, drugs, and death that is as unsettling
as it is intriguing.
Richard. "Subterranean Urbanesque Blues." Rev. of Catholic Boy.
Creem Feb. 1981: 44.
Riegel says Catholic Boy "confidently takes up that uniquely
Eightyish urbanscape right where The Basketball Diaries left
off in the summer of 1966," and "if you appreciated the many jagged
gems of word 'n' roll hidden among the furious chaos of Patti Smith's
[similar leap from poetry to rock music], then get set for major acupuncture
on your jugular." Lou Reed ("the campus poet . . . before the relatively
disingenuous Velvet Underground") and Iggy Pop ("when he was still an
iguana") are cited as the major influences on Catholic Boy, as
"Jim Carroll phrases with the prophetic bemusement, with the dry and
prurient wonder of a true believer Lou Reed." Riegel says "City Drops
Into the Night" is "plenty for weeks of psychotextual analysis," and
concludes: "Pardon my critic's disbelief that rock 'n' roll this intense
and true has come from what I've always smugly called 'a real
writer,' but Jim Carroll's done it, over and over, for sure."
Steven. "Jim Carroll." Rev. of Catholic Boy. Stereo Review
Magazine Feb. 1981: 90.
Simels calls Carroll an "authentic voice," comparing him to other rock
poets--Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Patti Smith--in reference to Carroll's
attempt to take the "diction of serious poetry . . . mate it to the
diction of traditional rock-and-roll, and then come up with an appropriately
neon-lit style to go along with it." Catholic Boy is an "extremely
impressive debut album, flawed and pretentious at times, but also genuinely
ambitious, gripping, and believable." Although Carroll's themes of "Catholic
guilt, redemptive sex, life and death on the wild side, Rimbaud . .
. the whole bohemian shopping list" are nothing new, he, unlike other
rock poets, has lived on the streets and has battled a "truly
epic heroin addiction," rather than just reading about these things.
Secondly, citing the "scary, mordantly funny" Basketball Diaries
and Carroll's (supposed) nomination for the Pulitzer Prize at age 22,
Simels notes that Carroll is a gifted writer. Simels goes on to point
out the "obvious reference points" of the Jim Carroll Band--early Stones,
Velvet Underground, and the Ramones--saying that the band is "among
the most accomplished hard-rock outfits now working, and at their absolute
limits." The band, he says, "manage a majestic, darkly menacing wall
of sound that connects with classic rock-and-roll archetypes." In agreement
with other critics, Simels says Carroll "can barely sing at all," but
notes that he is a "perfect front man for this kind of sophisticated
clatter." Simels praises "People Who Died" as the album's most arresting
track, as it "neatly sums up the conflicting, contradictory impulses
that power Carroll's work." Simels ends, noting that although "Crow"
and "Three Sisters" aren't top-notch, "There's no use pretending Carroll
isn't a genuine talent, or that he and his magnificent band haven't
made, in Catholic Boy, some of the most impressive rock of this
Ken. "Jim Carroll's a Legend Before His Time." Rev. of Catholic Boy.
Los Angeles (Calif.) Herald Examiner 24 Oct. 1980. Newsbank,
Literature Index, 1980-81, fiche 22, grid A8-9.
Tucker says Catholic Boy "is an earnest effort, smart and a bit
too mindful of the verities: As lead singer, Carroll's phrasing and
fondness of verbal prolixity can be placed exactly--Bob Dylan on Bringing
it all back Home." Tucker claims a "capsule review" would suffice
for Catholic Boy, were it not for Carroll's biography, "which
has earned him more print space than 37 debut-album artists, an amazing
feat when you consider that the album is being released only this week
and that the Jim Carroll Band has yet to set out on its first national
tour." Tucker claims The Basketball Diaries, Living at the
Movies, and Carroll's "resume--junkie/poet/basketball-ace/rocker"
have "led to encomiums like the one in BAM" (which Tucker describes
as "the most breathless version yet of what's rapidly becoming the Jim
Carroll myth"); however, Tucker states that "Carroll's strengths as
a rock 'n' roller have nothing to do with his life as a poet." Tucker
sees "City Drops Into the Night" as a failure, but says the "absence
of both sentimentality and distracting similes" in "People Who Died"
"lends the song an edge of shocking humor." "The rest of the time,"
Tucker continues, "Carroll shakes down the poetic diction of the New
York School poets." Frank O'Hara is also an influence; Tucker comments
that O'Hara would appreciate "People Who Died," and
know that the rhyming couplets that comprise other songs like 'Three
Sisters' and 'Crow' are both sincere attempts at rock lyricism and
a wiseguy's way of showing rock 'n' rollers how a real poet
can toss off metrically complex stuff like this with ease--here Carroll's
arrogance is well earned and even endearing.
Carroll's arrogance is not always so endearing, which Tucker illustrates
with Carroll's comment in BAM: "I hate it when people dance to
my music. I want them to listen and take something back with them that
they can think about." Tucker suggests that listeners should "determine
our own reactions and . . . see whether Carroll hops off the stage to
quell any uninformed pogo dancing that may occur . . . ."
Rev. of Catholic Boy. Rolling Stone 5 Feb. 1981: 54.
In a kind of revised and condensed version of the above review, Tucker
states: "The Jim Carroll Band play like a well-rehearsed New York Dolls--blunt,
loud and catchy, but lacking that late, great group's vehement humor
and spontaneity. Yet what's most striking about their debut album .
. . isn't the music but the words." Tucker goes on to say that the "reams"
of words that "flood almost every line with endless detail" and "[u]nifying
metaphors" are only to be expected as Carroll is a "semi-established
writer." Most of Tucker's statements about Carroll tend to be sarcastic;
for example, Living at the Movies "boasted the requisite cover
painting by a New York school artist, Larry Rivers." Tucker does cover
Catholic Boy thoroughly, though certainly not kindly. Carroll's
songwriting, he says, tends to be very "sobersided," "Three Sisters"
sounds like "The Ramones Find the Basement Tapes," "City Drops
Into The Night" is "seven minutes plus of blackish-purple nocturnal
imagery," and "Carroll proves much worse than Patti Smith at piling
on the poetic dread." However, Tucker praises "People Who Died"--where
"the singer lets the band set the breakneck pace, then speeds after
them, shouting a list of the names of his comrades who've shuffled off
this hot-plate coil"--and "Catholic Boy"; these two songs, he says,
"finally make us believe that, somewhere between the poet and the poseur,
he's got his own style."
Michael. Rev. of Dry Dreams. Rolling Stone 8 July
his first album, Catholic Boy, Jim Carroll came off like
Lou Reed fronting the Stones--all raunchy guitars and monotone vocals.
With Dry Dreams, he has moved slightly away from those influences,
creating a distinctly urban brand of rock & roll that's equal
parts New York intellectual and savvy street hipster.
says Carroll has "developed considerably as a vocalist" since Catholic
Boy and, with the addition of a piano player (Tom Canning), has
expanded his sound; for example, the Latin rhythm on "Jody" and honky-tonk
piano on "Jealous Twin." Carroll is most successful on "slower, brooding
pieces like "Rooms' and 'Jody,' but has trouble when the band tries
to rock out, as on "Barricades." The best song, Goldberg notes, is "'Lorraine,'
which is about kicking junk to form a rock band." (The Rolling Stone
rating was three stars.)
Rev. of Dry Dreams. Variety 12 May 1982: 464.
The brief review states, verbatim:
Gotham-based writer/poet turned rocker weighs in with a solid followup
to his impressive debut LP, "Catholic Boy." Carroll's biting vocals
have an insinuating thrust perfectly suited to material that's rich
in street-centered, druggie, fallen-angel imagery. His guitar-oriented
band provides a slashing, propulsive framework for dramatic tracks
like "Work Not Play," "Barricades" and "Lorraine."
Don. "'Dry Dreams' Pulls Punches." Rev. of Dry Dreams. Chicago
(Ill.) Sun-Times 13 June 1982. Newsbank, Performing Arts Index,
1982-1983, fiche 4, grid B12.
McLeese calls Dry Dreams "A major disappointment" compared to
Catholic Boy, which "split the difference between the Velvet
Underground and the Rolling Stones, and made the results sound like
second nature . . . Few debuts in recent memory have packed as much
punch." The "punches" Dry Dreams pulls include "mannered" arrangements,
"sterile" production, and "slack" playing; also, "Carroll's attempts
at conventional vocalizing . . . are less than convincing." Further,
McLeese says that "As for the writing, when he isn't offering a junkie-chic
peepshow, he seems content with surface-skimming cleverness." The reviewer
quotes lines from "Work, Not Play" and "Them," asserting that they "aren't
poetry, they're wordplay at its most facile--Creative Writing 101 suff."
McLeese concludes: "In light of high expectations, the aptly titled
'Dry Dreams' is barely listenable." Also reviewed is Sweets from
a Stranger, by Squeeze.
Adam. Rev. of Dry Dreams. Melody Maker 22 May 1982: 29.
In an almost comically brutal review, Sweeting calls the album "A far
from convincing workout, hailing from New York," and finds this surprising
considering "the heavyweight credits littering the sleeve." He goes
on to say that
Carroll belongs to the power-chords-and-bravado school of songwriters.
While his band clump around with their drab 4/4 tempos and mock-epic
chord sequences, Carroll has the cheek to sing his own absurd lyrics.
Nothing straightforward ever happens to Jim. Everything he does is
from "Rooms," Sweeting says, "It gets worse," and quotes lines from
"Still Life"; he remarks that "It's like a Young Observer poetry competition."
Sweeting finds the album disappointing, "because I somehow had the impression
that Jim Carroll was one of these street-realist types, bulging with
grit and hard times on the bowery." Sweeting says the title track is
"even worse. Drums pound a cement-shoe shuffle while Jim Bares his chest
and drawls nonsense . . . . Damned unhealthy." Sweeting's conclusion
speaks for itself: "There's nothing here to suggest that Jim Carroll
has ever experienced anything real at all. He probably spends his time
in the launderette reading Heavy Metal comics and Playboy. We are not
Michael. Rev. of Dry Dreams. Audio 66.8 (1982): 23.
The Jim Carroll Band's first album, Catholic Boy, received a
great deal of attention mostly due to the "throat-grabbing intensity
of "People Who Died," notes Tearson, and "That album's pure drive is
matched on Dry Dreams." "The band has the snap and crackle Carroll's
songs need, but however sturdy a group they are, when the lead voice
is as limited as Carroll's, the poetry had better be brilliant." Although
he says Carroll's songs "are not as strong as the previous crop," he
calls "Jealous Twin" the clear standout. (Sound rating, B; Performance,
Write Your Name
Christopher. Rev. of I Write Your Name. Rolling Stone
29 March 1984: 74, 76.
"'Freddy's Store' is Jim Carroll's best song since his necrorock standard,
"People Who Died." Connelly calls "Freddy's Store" a "conga-colored
workout about an arms merchant's voluminous warehouse," and says it
"showcases this street-smart-poet-turned-dilettante-rocker's talent
as a gritty lyricist with a taste for full-throttle rock & roll."
Even so, Connelly says Carroll's overall abilities "remain a mite too
slim to carry an album's worth of material," and I Write Your Name
has "too much of not enough." Connelly describes Carroll as "Not much
of a singer" who "nearly raps his songs over a pungent four-piece attack,
spearheaded by thrash-guitar master Lenny Kaye." Several of the songs
are "worth a listen," but I Write Your Name, says Connelly, shows
that Carroll has yet to fulfill his promise. (The Rolling Stone
rating was two stars.)
Eric. Rev. of I Write Your Name. People Weekly 21 May
"Jim Carroll has an ear for language and an eye for imagery." Levin
lauds Carroll's lyrics, commenting that "certain lines slap one's face
like low branches along a trail" (the reviewer cites "Love's a Crime");
however, Levin qualifies his praise in that the lyrics are "buried in
the mix and work like a kind of nontonal instrument." Stating that Carroll
"has absolutely no singing voice," Levin allows that "To his credit,
Carroll doesn't try to sing. He spews words and images, chanting and
speak-singing . . ." Going on to summarize Carroll's poetic and musical
background, Levin resolves that in adding Lenny Kaye and Brian Marnell
"Carroll has fashioned his best band yet . . . The guitar and bass playing
is crisp, cutting and rhythmically assured, with a good range of mood
and inflection and almost no plug-in gimmickry. It crackles."
Bruce. "On Record: Popular Music." Rev. of I Write Your Name.
Wilson Library Bulletin 58 (1984): 746-47.
Pollock compares Carroll to Leonard Cohen:
Carroll is a poet and a novelist/rocker whose singing plainly is a last
resort. Over the course of his three-album career Carroll has drifted--or
been pushed--toward the traditional singer/songwriter middle ground,
that of a performer/bandleader. For a poet this thought might be ludicrous,
had not Lou Reed, Patti Smith, and probably some others accomplished
it with much aplomb, though not without some initial embarrassment,
results of I Write Your Name, he says, are "less embarrassing than
frustrating," as Carroll's presentation is not as interesting nor as commercially
viable as his material demands; the rock scores provided for his lyrics
"lack the subtlety and power of his best material." Pollock thinks the
fact that Carroll collaborated with seven musicians on the album suggests
that "Carroll, too, was dissatisfied in his search for a complementary
musical voice." Where Carroll's cover of "Sweet Jane" is the "worst cut
on the album," Pollock says the title track, "I Write Your Name," is the
strongest song Carroll has written since "People Who Died," and "deserves
to be considered as a kind of rock and roll Howl of the eighties."
Pollock ends by saying "how can you put down an album dedicated to Ted
Berrigan, in which Anne Waldman is one of the backup vocalists and Lenny
Kaye plays guitar." This article also includes a review of Laurie Anderson's
Danny. Rev. of I Write Your Name. Creem June 1984:55.
Opening his review with a quote from Henry Miller on Rimbaud (Time
of the Assassins), Sugarman says,
Write Your Name is the album Jim Carroll always wanted to make and
should have made but couldn't until now. This is the one, not his other
two. He showed great promise on the first, fell on his fair-skinned
face on the second; now here comes the third pitch and the red-headed
former athlete-cum-junkie/writer belts a home run.
states that Carroll no longer relies on famous friends and his reputation
"to achieve mystery and impact"; Carroll is "now a true electric poet
moving with startling confidence and grace." Part of the reason for
this growth, the reviewer suggests, is that "Carroll has forgotten who
he wants to be, who he is supposed to be, and who he is expected to
represent. . . Carroll is finally painting, not just pointing." Sugarman
notes that there is no lyric sheet "by intent, not budgetary restrictions.
He wants us to listen, not read." Sugarman praises "Love Crimes" ("the
perfect opening track"), and says "Freddy's Store" "sounds like a New
York munitions version of 'L.A. Woman'"; also noted is the influence
of the Doors in "Black Romance." Particularly impressed with Carroll's
lyrics, Sugarman praises "Dance the Night Away," and suggests that,
"were Arthur Rimbaud today alive and living in New York, it is not inconceivable
the very first line he would write would be this one from '(No More)
Luxuries: 'C'est la vie . . . the color of T.V.'" Sugarman cites "Sweet
Jane" as "The only filler on the record . . . done better by both Lou
Reed and Mott the Hoople"; his "only other complaint is that Carroll
still retains the annoying habit of shrilling the ends of words." In
conclusion Sugarman concedes that "these are really minor quibbles over
flaws on the surface of what sturdily remains a vibrant, glowing landscape
of rock 'n' roll at its most beatific. We'd be smart first and fortunate
later to not let this boy slip out of our sight unappreciated."
Steve. "Slack Trax from Hit Flicks." Rev. of Tuff Turf (soundtrack
album) Rolling Stone 9 May 1985: 74.
This article mentions that Carroll, along with Jack Mack and the Heart
Attack, Lene Lovich, Marianne Faithfull, and Southside Johnny, have songs
on the soundtrack album for the movie Tuff Turf.
Jon and Sally. Rev. of Better an Old Demon than a New God. Audio
April 1985: 117+.
The Tivens say,
isn't an album for every taste, but very little of worth can appeal
to everyone. What we mean is that this record is deliberately aimed
at a rather narrow audience, anthologizing the words of 10 cult heroes
associated with (a)the poetry/rock scene, (b)the New Wave scene, and/or
(c)poetry. Not all of them are terrific . . .
reviewers name several of the featured artists and the works they perform;
of Carroll's "A Peculiar- Looking Girl," they note only, "no music on
his track, although he's been known to make music on many occasions."
Concluding, the Tivens state that "This is quite an interesting collection
of works . . . . It's not particularly danceable, nor is it recommended
for the passive listener, but it's a good 37 minutes of intellectual
here for updates
Geoff. Rev. of Listen to the City, by Ron Mann. Cinema Canada
April 1986: 23+.
In an extended review, Pevere notes that Listen to the City is
"the first (and to date, only) dramatic feature by the celebrated Toronto
documentarist," and that "by 1986, still hadn't more than a scant handful
of public screenings in Canada." The film received "a carnivorously nasty
reception at its premiere at the '84 Festival of Festivals in Toronto,"
and was re-edited. The best context for the film, Pevere says, "would
be a classroom or a political meeting." However, Pevere states that the
film is not "didactically strained agitprop." The film's "cultural
concerns are firmly of the pop variety," and its "affinity to art before
politics is . . . immediately established in [the] first sequence," which
features Carroll as a "bedeviled hospital inmate." Of Carroll's role,
Pevere comments that
poet-songwriter figure, a romantic symbol of the exaltation-through-suffering
of art and artists, who will re-appear throughout the film like some
Christly panhandler, has a signifying resonance far more profound and
immediate than most of the more elaborate and developed scenarios he's
constantly barging in on. He stands for art and pain and vision and
such, and his romantic function in the movie can actually stand for
the whole movie, which is really more a plea for art than a call to
summarizes the film's plot, noting it is "the fracturing and disassembly
of the parallel scenarios (which collide at the climax) that distinguishes
the film, and not their integrated linear momentum." Going on to state
that "Mann's fractured fable acts as an apt working example of politics
as process," Pevere describes the "disparate activities, voices and elements,
which work to create an appearance of integrity and seamless purpose."
Finally, Pevere comments upon the prominent role of musical production
"as both a complement and a catalyst to the action" in the film, analyzing
the attempts of a young woman (Sandy Horne of The Spoons) to "build harmony
out of divergent aural elements and styles." The wandering poet-musician
(Carroll) appears with the young woman, performing a song which "is recognizable
to us all as the final mix of many congruent themes and melodies" seen
and heard throughout the film. Pevere praises the film's conclusion, in
which "the camera tracks back to reveal, well, everything--the
director, the crew, sound equipment, camera and dolly . . ."; says Pevere,
"It's saying, with a frankness and humility uncommon in the realm of political
proselytism, 'Well, that's the way I see it, anyway." Pevere concludes:
"Here's hoping more people see it any way. Period."
Click here for updates
Michael. "Jim Carroll Brings Poetry to Rock." Rev. of Jim Carroll Band
at Sam's, Minneapolis. Minneapolis (Minn.) Tribune 6 Dec. 1980.
Newsbank, Performing Arts Index, 1980-81, fiche 72, grid F11.
Carroll addressed the audience with a rhetorical question: "What's a Pulitzer
Prize nominee doing fronting a rock band, touring the nation and playing
at Sam's on a chilly Thursday night?" Anthony doesn't find this scenario
surprising: "wasn't it the late Don Marquis who said that expecting a
book of poetry to make an impact today 'is like dropping a rose petal
into the grand canyon and waiting for an echo?'" Discussed here is the
marriage of rock music and poetry; Anthony notes that "For some people
the very notion is anathema, the idea being that actual poetry . . . can't
possibly be set to a musical form as rudimentary as rock . . . with its
tyrannical beat. The music, so the argument would go, in fact, tyrannizes
the words, robbing them of their freedom." Later in the review, the issue
arises again, regarding Carroll's talk-singing style. Anthony says Carroll's
vocals are "not without variety or dramatic effect," but concludes that
"he hasn't figured out yet how to make many of his lyrics understandable
above the din of the music that supports them. Too many words are crowded
together. He seems as though he doesn't want to be understood fully, as
though attitude were enough." Carroll performed material mostly from Catholic
Boy (at the time of the review, the album had not been released).
Anthony compares Carroll with Patti Smith and Lou Reed, suggesting that
some songs may have been collaborative efforts with Smith. Carroll states
his "most persistent theme," Anthony says, in "Catholic Boy": "the venerable
notion of knowledge through suffering." Evaluating the performance as
a whole, Anthony calls the band "capable," and says that "Carroll is not
an especially charismatic figure onstage, but there is something refreshing
. . . in his simply standing there delivering his songs without undue
hokum, then stepping aside for the band's choruses."
Terry. "Impersonations by Carroll Band." Rev. of Jim Carroll Band at the
Country Club, Los Angeles. Los Angeles (Calif.) Times 14 June 1982.
Newsbank, Performing Arts Index, 1982-1983, fiche 4, grid B11.
Atkinson's review is ambivalent, and most of the article focuses on Carroll's
"influences": "Obviously, his favorites include the Rolling Stones, the
New York Dolls, Lou Reed, and Bob Dylan"--whom the band "reflects in an
all-too-evident manner." Atkinson accuses Carroll's band of not "integrating
[Carroll's] musical loves into a fresh, cohesive sound"; instead, the
band bounces between styles. Carroll himself, "like an actor with only
two expressions . . . merely impersonates Reed and Mick Jagger." Nevertheless,
Atkinson concedes that the Jim Carroll Band "arguably, is still above-average
rock fare," and describes the concert as "a swift, smart show, played
with punch and precision." Although "Carroll, who superficially looks
like a squinty-eyed David Bowie, isn't the most exciting stage performer
around--for all his prowling and glaring," he is still "reasonably stylish
and frequently intense." The band was "well-received by a capacity crowd,
who especially appreciated . . . 'People Who Died.'" However, Atkinson
concludes that "To ever approach the stature of his towering influences
. . . Carroll must fit those often compelling visions to some unique sounds."
Cary. "The Jim Carroll Band [and] Kid Courage." Rev. of Jim Carroll
Band at the Whiskey, Los Angeles. Billboard 31 Jan 1981: 38.
"Potential is the best way to describe new Atco artist Jim Carroll. The
published author and ex-junkie's initial stab at music is an admirable
one filled with toughened edges, the basis of all good rock. However,
the 50-minute, nine song set Jan. 16 had many trouble spots." Darling
attempts to go easy on Carroll, but is unsuccessful: "Carroll has no stage
presence. He simply stares at the back of the club and spits out the venomous
lyrics which fill his first album"; Darling resorts to praising Carroll's
music on record ("a murky yet seducing mix of the elements of Lou Reed,
Springsteen, and the Pretenders"). Darling says Carroll's band has considerable
talent, but they "tend to bludgeon most of the distinctiveness out of
Carroll's music." Still, Darling says, "the raw ingredients are there
and a well-honed Carroll should be a force to be reckoned with on the
adventurous edge of rock 'n' roll."
Eric. "Rock 'n' Roll's Raging Bull." Rev. of Jim Carroll Band at the Peppermint
Beach Club, Norfolk. (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot 13 March 1981. Newsbank,
Performing Arts Index, 1980-81, fiche 123, grid E11.
"It happened right before our eyes. There, at the Peppermint Beach Club,
a seething mass of young, rock-hungry lions experienced a baptism by fury
and fire and emerged cleansed, like Daniel and the prophets, from the
mouth of the furnace," Feber begins his rave review. After the crowd had
survived "the sunny, white Devo-clone pop of Northern Virginia's 4 out
of 5 Doctors" (the opening band), says Feber, Carroll's "first shot, 'Wicked
Gravity,' dispelled any doubts" that "this gaunt, red-haired ex-junkie
turned poet-turned-rock and roller [would] deliver [the crowd] from rock
boredom." Feber runs through Carroll's background, which he says "reads
like a script for a made-for-TV-movie," then describes Carroll's performance:
the unrelenting, electric barbed-wire attack of Carroll's vocals, Brian
Linsley and Terrell Winn's guitars, Steve Linsley's bass and Wayne Woods'
drums, the crowd understood and accepted Carroll's heroin ordeal, his
hustling and his final redemption through rock and roll and "pain."
stalked the stage like a sleek and wiry cat. Assuming a David Bowie
stance, he stared into space, exorcising the evil from his soul and
his nonsinging voice, he stuttered phrases, added nasty emphasis to others
and stretched out lyrics like a man possessed," says Feber. "All the while
he stood in the eye of a hurricane created by the rock and roll fury of
his band . . . . They provided a musical subway for Carroll's high-speed
urban, subterranean voyages." Carroll performed "People Who Died" (inciting
"a controlled riot") and, for an encore, "Sweet Jane." Feber ends, noting
that "The intimate club setting was a stroke of luck for the listeners.
The next time it'll be Scope or some other cacophonous cavern."
Richard. "Jim Carroll." Rev. of Jim Carroll Band at The Ritz, New York.
Variety 9 June 1982: 56.
"[W]hile Carroll's darkly enigmatic lyricism and idiosyncratic presence
recalls off-beat artists like Jim Morrison, Lou Reed and Patti Smith,
his work is a vital reminder that rock and roll at its best can be a refuge
for untamed individualism." Gold discusses Catholic Boy and Dry
Dreams, saying that in them "Carroll deals with themes of sin, redemption,
drugs, sex and the concrete jungle with free-associating lyrics that are
compelling and captivating, if occasionally obtuse." Although Carroll
isn't much of a singer, he delivers his "cathartic" songs with a "refreshingly
unpolished stage manner whose very vulnerability suggests courage and
commitment." Gold says Carroll's rendering of "Jody" was "abysmal," but
that "his biting, fierce rock-rap style was engrossingly powerful on numbers
like 'People Who Died' and 'Work Not Play.'" Overall, "Carroll's set had
several exciting spots that were undercut only by the basic sameness of
Toby. "Walk It & Talk It." Rev. of Jim Carroll with Lou Reed at St.
Mark's Church, Manhattan. Creem July 1984:48.
"They weren't your usual brand of churchgoers, this barely contained mob
in leather jackets, black-on-black costumes with white pancake made up
faces, all moaning 'Lou-ew-ew!!!' like a herd of demented cows," Goldstein
begins. Just as the fans' focused on Lou Reed at the poetry reading, so
does the review focus on him: "What was happening in the vaulted cathedral
. . . was a rare night of earthly transcendence: over an hour of poetry
reading by Jim Carroll--who does this often--and Lou Reed--who has done
this sort of performance maybe twice in the past 10 years." Of Carroll's
performance, Goldstein says that "Despite their obvious impatience to
hear their hero, Lou's minions responded well to Jim Carroll's opening
set--no less than Carroll deserved, since reading his work comes as naturally
to Jim as drawing a breath." Carroll was "Unbothered by his peculiar 'opening
act' status in the program," and "deftly played to the audience, draping
his rangy body over the microphone podium . . ." Carroll began his performance
with excerpts from Forced Entries; Goldstein notes that Carroll
"was quite aware of how bizarre some of his exploits must have seemed
to us quasi-normal types":
true," he playfully added, after relating a particularly gross sexual
adventure, then grinned when he slipped and referred to Andy Warhol's
"Factory" by name, instead of keeping it thinly anonymous, as he satirized
the group who demanded their 15 minutes of fame.
also read "Just Visiting," as he "moved into more visionary and serious
material from his 'Book of Nods.'" The remainder of the review is devoted
to Reed's performance.
Ira. "Carroll's Rock is On the Rise." Rev. of Jim Carroll Band at The
Bottom Line, New York. New York (N.Y.) Post 23 Dec. 1980. Newsbank,
Performing Arts Index, 1980-81, fiche 72, grid F12.
Mayer suggests that "Jim Carroll's notoriety is as much a product of his
teenage autobiographical novel Basketball Diaries, and of a Pulitzer
Prize nomination as it is the result of his having recorded a rock and
roll album." Of Carroll's performance, Mayer says Carroll is "still developing
as a rock artist," and notes that "His roots were certainly clear enough:
Velvet Underground and Lou Reed all the way. . . . Their influence was
even acknowledged by way of an encore of Sweet Jane." Mayer goes
on to compare Carroll's songs with Reed's, saying they "evoke the same
kind of dark, street-wise images and cynical contempt as Reed's, but only
occasionally do they do so with the same stunning force." Mayer states
that "At its best the band suggests the dance beat power of the Stones
circa Emotional Rescue," saying, "The context the band provides
is fleshed-out new wave." Mayer decides that "Playing a brief set was
wise" because of the lack of variety in Carroll's performance; "Not even
Catholic Boy, his themesong and the midpoint of the set, produced
much of a rise." Finally, Mayer concludes: "Carroll's is an act to be
followed, for certain, but don't expect a rock and roll Messiah."
Jack. "Jim Carroll Band." Rev. of Jim Carroll Band at Old Waldorf, San
Francisco. Billboard, 14 June 1980: 50.
Carroll drew a strong response from the crowd of 300 with a 65-minute
set of 11 tunes. McDonough compares Carroll to Lou Reed: "Both are
consummate New York street poets and both project a similar rawboned attitude
on stage with autobiographical songs of urban tension and psychosexual
drama," but, "Whereas Reed . . . has a highly mannered style that sometimes
results in dirge-like readings, Carroll is a much more straightforward
rocker." This review loses some credibility with McDonough's statement
that the set was well-paced, "building to a stunning climax provided by
his best and most wildly intense song, "All My Friends Died." (McDonough
is referring to "People Who Died.")
Jim. "Carroll's Music Complex, Uncommercial." Rev. of The Jim Carroll
Band at the Agora Ballroom, Columbus. Columbus (Ohio) Evening Dispatch
12 Feb. 1981. Newsbank, Performing Arts Index, 1980-81, fiche 101, grid
"Complex, well-written (mostly by Carroll himself) and intense, it is
the type of music that bears the kiss of death commercially," says Perine
of the Jim Carroll Band's music. Perine sees this music as a challenge
which "most members of a large audience on hand were willing to accept
. . . and show their appreciation for it and the band." Perine goes on
to compare Carroll in appearance and style to David Bowie and Lou Reed,
and notes the influence of Patti Smith. Still, Perine says, Carroll is
"his own man, making the music he wants to create, in his own way." However,
Carroll is "not really a singer in the conventional sense of the word,"
he showed "little facial emotion until late in the show, spoke-sang several
of his numbers," and he let "the instrumental parts of the music carry
the load. He did actually sing a few songs, and his voice, though not
perfect, was adequate." Perine praises the band as "nearly flawless,"
saying that "Because the lyrics were complex . . . the band was challenged
to keep up." However, "with all these things in his favor, his seeming
and in many ways positive wish not to take the easy way out, may make
large-scale success difficult," Perine suggests. The review ends with
a brief evaluation of opening band The Erector Set.
Frank. "At Poet-Rockers' Concert, Some Words Cut to the Heart." Rev. of
Jim Carroll with Debora Iyall at the Brick 'n' Wood nightclub, Hartford.
Hartford (Conn.) Courant 8 April 1988. Newsbank, Performing Arts
Index, 1988, fiche 83, grid C2.
Describing the poetry reading featuring Carroll and Debora Iyall (of Romeo
Void), Rizzo begins, "It was one of those nights when the difference between
disaster and delight was a thin line held taut by two talents of dangerous
tastes and temperaments." Most of the review focuses on Iyall and technical
difficulties: "As soon as Iyall stepped up to the mike, the sound system
went out. But electronics did not halt art." Of Carroll's performance,
Rizzo states that "There was no denying the appeal and art of Carroll
. . ." Reading mostly from Forced Entries, "Carroll's jagged voice
and nervous delivery gave his edgy writing an added dramatic force." Rizzo
notes that Carroll "uses humor as a saving grace, whether in a hilarious
self-deprecating style or in a sort of stoned Dr. Suess playfulness."
jungle telegraphs will pick up the message and run it back on
crystal wires to the known world, where his books will become
expensive although he is laughed at and ignored. (Clark ix-x)
It was also rumored that Carroll, at 22, had been nominated for a Pulitzer
Prize for Living at the Movies. I have been unable to verify this.
Jim Carroll should not be confused with James Carroll, a priest, nor Jim
Carroll, a folk singer who was performing in the early 1970s, nor Jimmy
Carroll, who recorded sing-along albums in the early 1960s. There may
be one other: a Jim Carroll who writes about jazz music. <<
Several book reviews were written by university professors for library
journals, and Gerard Malanga's review of Living at the Movies appears
in Poetry; these might be considered "scholarly." I did not actively
research foreign reviews; listed here is one Canadian review of Ron Mann's
film Listen to the City (Carroll is mentioned by name once in the
review). Since Carroll's books are translated into several languages,
and his albums have been released in foreign countries, I assume other
foreign reviews do exist. << Back
According to Carroll, his books have been translated into approximately
seven languages, including Italian, French, and German. In Index Translatorium
I found a Spanish translation of The Basketball Diaries: Ricardo
Gonzalez Bertazioli, trans., Basketball Diary (Barcelona: Producciones
Editoriales, 1982). The William Morris Agency, which holds the foreign
publishing rights for Carroll's books, names Uitgeverij de Boekerij of
Singel, Amsterdam, as the Dutch publisher of The Basketball Diaries;
The Book of Nods and Forced Entries are published in Japan
by Shobunsha (Carroll says all of his works are published in Japan). The
Basketball Diaries and The Book of Nods are both published
in England by Faber & Faber. << Back
All page references to The Basketball Diaries in this bibliography
refer to the 1987 Penguin edition. << Back
When I met with Carroll, I asked him about the "Author's Note" in Forced
Entries, which states that the diaries are "consciously embellished
and fictionalized to some extent." Carroll told me the note was written
by lawyers; Carroll only revised the note to add humor. (Carroll says
all events described in Forced Entries are true.) <<
I was unable to locate several journals which, according to notes in Carroll's
books, contain additional readings. Portions of Living at the Movies
were originally published in Best & Co., Telephone,
The Chicago Seed, "C" Magazine, and Reindeer. Portions
of The Basketball Diaries appeared in Spectrum. Selections
from The Book of Nods have appeared in Rolling Stone. Big
Sky #3, which is a special Tom Clark issue, is also cited as including
Carroll's work. << Back
According to Carroll, his work is anthologized in Poetry: The First
75 Years (from Poetry magazine), but I could not find this
anthology; I also was unable to locate The New Poets (Bantam).
Paul Carroll's anthology The Young American Poets Vol. 2 (Random
House or Follett, 1973), which several sources cite as including poems
from Living at the Movies, was never published. <<
Linda's last name is correctly spelled Cambi, as it appears in
the dedication in Organic Trains. << Back
I was unable to locate One World Poetry (Dutch Imports from the
World Poetry Festival, Amsterdam), which features excerpts from The
Book of Nods. << Back
Scott Cain claims Carroll appeared in two Andy Warhol films; I have been
unable to verify this. In addition to the films listed here, Carroll has
appeared on several television programs in the early 1980s. I'm certain
he read from The Book of Nods on MTV's weekly series The Cutting
Edge; however, I.R.S. Records, which holds the videotapes of the series,
was unable to ascertain the date of Carroll's appearance or titles of
pieces he read. According to Chet Flippo, Carroll also appeared on NBC's
The Tomorrow Show; Gary Kenton notes an appearance on a variety
program called Fridays, which ran for about one season in the early
80s. Also, in a recent poetry reading, Carroll mentioned a performance
with the Jim Carroll Band on an MTV program called The Roots of Rock,
which featured Lou Reed. << Back
far as I can tell, Listen to the City is available only in Canada;
I was unable to view the film. << Back
In a review of Catholic Boy ("Jim Carroll's a Legend Before His
Time"), Ken Tucker cites "a Oui magazine photographer who gushed
that here was 'the Dylan of the '80s . . . Seeing Jim Carroll now is like
witnessing history" (A8). I have not found this article. <<
Ira. Red: A Biography of Red Smith. New York: Times, 1986.
Ted. "Jim Carroll." Culture Hero 1.5 (1969): 9-10.
Jim. The Book of Nods. New York: Penguin, 1986.
Forced Entries: The Downtown Diaries: 1971-1973. New York: Penguin,
"It's Too Late." Catholic Boy. Atco-Atlantic, SD 38-132, 1980.
Personal interview. 7 July 1989.
Tom. "Rimbaud Rambles On: By Way of a Preface to The Diaries." The
Basketball Diaries. By Jim Carroll. Bolinas, CA: Tombouctou, 1978.
Laura. "The Transformation of Jim Carroll." Musician, Player and Listener
Feb. 1981: 16+.
Chet. "A Star is Borning." New York 26 Jan. 1981: 32-35.
Barbara. "Mean Streets." Newsweek 8 Sep. 1980: 80-81.
Daniel L. Rev. of The Book of Nods. Library Journal 15 Apr.
Divina. "A Catholic Boy." Milwaukee (Wisc.) Journal 18 Feb. 1981.
Newsbank, Performing Arts Index, 1980-81, fiche 101, grid F6-7.
Jamie. Rev. of The Basketball Diaries. The American Book Review
2.3 (1980): 9.
Gerard. "Traveling & Living." Rev. of Living at the Movies.
Poetry 125.3 (1974): 162-5.
John. Penthouse March 1981: 140+.
Tony. "2 Sets of 'Diaries' Show Off New York City's Seediness." (Harrisburg,
Pennsylvania) Patriot 26 July 1987. Newsbank, Literature Index, 1987,
fiche 15, grid E5-6.
Geoff. Rev. of Listen to the City, by Ron Mann. Cinema Canada
April 1986: 23+.
Bart. "Jim Carroll's Basketball Diaries: Street Cool Huck Finn
Dope Diary." Overthrow 14.2 (1980): 19.
Clarice. "The Catholic Boy Confesses: Jim Carroll." Interview Jan.
Steve. "Jim Carroll." Stereo Review Magazine 46.2 (1981):
submitted for publication on 26 January 1990.
©1990 Cassie Carter
Unauthorized duplication prohibited.