Home > Research > Performance Reviews > Preview: University of Montana (1999)

One wrist in heaven, one ankle in hell

Jim Carroll to Speak in Missoula

The collected works of Jim Carroll

Organic Trains, 1967. Poetry.
4 Ups and 1 Down, 1970. Poetry.
Living at the Movies, 1973. Poetry.
The Basketball Diaries, 1978. Autobiography.
The Book of Nods, 1986. Poetry.
Forced Entries: The Downtown Diaries, 1971-1973, 1987. Autobiography.
Fear of Dreaming: The Selected Poems of Jim Carroll, 1993. Poetry.
Void of Course, 1998. Poetry.
Jim Carroll Discography:
Catholic Boy, 1980. The Jim Carroll Band.
Dry Dreams, 1982. The Jim Carroll Band.
I Write Your Name, 1984. The Jim Carroll Band.
Pools of Mercury, 1998. Jim Carroll, music and spoken word.

When I discovered Jim Carroll a week before my 20th birthday, it took me 30 seconds to adopt the last sentence of the first chapter of his book Forced Entries as a personal motto. After a diary entry about taking the $20 his grandmother sent him for his 20th birthday and buying heroin with it, Carroll writes:

If you haven't died by an age thought predetermined by your abuses and excesses, what is there left to do but start another diary?

Is that inspiration to write or what? When I found out that this hero of mine was coming to speak at UM, I flipped.

Carroll's life is the stuff of urban legends. His hair-raising tales are autobiographically chronicled in his books, including The Basketball Diaries, Forced Entries: The Downtown Diaries, and The Book of Nodsi>. Carroll also achieved rock stardom when his song "People Who Died" was a No. 1 hit in 1980.

Born in New York City, Carroll went to Catholic school and used his graceful, 6-foot-3-inch body to become a star basketball player.

He also blossomed into a renowned poet. At age 13, he published his first book of poems. It was so well heralded that the late Jack Kerouac commented, "At age 13, Carroll writes better than 89 percent of authors out there."

Carroll's life and art turned when he began experimenting with drugs. At 15, he took his first shot of heroin (thinking it was safe and that marijuana was the addictive stuff). Soon he was a walking laboratory of every substance, chemical and idea New York had to offer in the 1960s.

Carroll hooked up with Andy Warhol's Factory, hung out in the club Max's Kansas City and was a huge Velvet Underground fan. He schmoozed with drug addicts, drag-queens and genius artists. He rubbed noses with folks like Allen Ginsburg and William Burroughs, thereby making him one of the last surviving writers with direct ties to the original Beats.

In the early '70s, Carroll moved to California to kick his drug habits. While there, his New York girlfriend Patti Smith and her band came to play in San Francisco. Smith's opening band quit right before the show, and as a replacement, Carroll went onstage with Smith's backing band and rapped his poetry over a rock beat.

Carroll was so inspired by rock 'n' roll that he returned to New York and founded The Jim Carroll Band. Their hit, People Who Died, was the most requested song in 1980, second only to "Imagine" -- because John Lennon died earlier that year. (Factoid: "People Who Died" is what's playing on the radio in the opening scene of E.T.)

The Jim Carroll Band released three albums between 1980 and 1983 on Rolling Stones records. Just as Time Magazine dubbed Jim Carroll the Bob Dylan of the '80s, he stepped back from the public eye.

A decade later, he came back when a movie was made of his book The Basketball Diaries, starring Leonardo Di Caprio. Then, in 1998, Carroll came out with a new music/spoken word album. Now he's doing a spoken word tour, which includes a stop in Missoula on Nov. 8.

As one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Carroll is a man not to miss.

Jim Carroll will speak in the Urey Underground Lecture Hall on Monday, Nov. 8, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available from all TIC-IT-E-Z outlets and are $10 for the public, $8 for students.

The original article iwas found here:


Site Map | Contact Info | About this site | About the webmaster

The Jim Carroll Website © 1996-2024 Cassie Carter