Looks like it's lining up to be Jack Kerouac week here at LFAD. Above is a classic clip of Jack Kerouac reading from On The Road as Steve Allen accompanies on piano. I like this clip because it shows what 50 plus years have done to late night television like the Tonight Show. Fifty years ago, the host would accompany a poet(!) as he reads from his most famous book. Today, we get dick jokes.
I also love this reading. Kerouac reads in the breathless, manic style in which he wrote the book. It's exhilarating. You get a sense of the excitement of the road, the carefree openness that the road symbolizes to Kerouac. Try to read the entire book in this style, it's exhausting, which I think is its intent. Also Allen's jazzy piano is spot on, a nice accompaniment to the reading.
At the time of this reading On The Road had recently been published and this was by far the most exposure Kerouac had ever received (although On The Road had been glowingly reviewed by the NY Times). Kerouac looks nervous and fidgety and is obviously sweating, either from nervousness or the bright studio lights. Once Kerouac starts reading however (about 2 minutes into the clip), he settles down and I love the way he draws out Dean Mo-ri-ar-i-ty at the end.
If you ever wondered what the big deal was about Jack Kerouac, I think this clip illustrates how cool Kerouac and On the Road was. Although Kerouac would write a number of books that were well received, none would match the energy of On The Road and unfortunately Kerouac would descend into raging alcoholism, passing away in 1969 basically from alcohol destroying his liver.