Hey Jack Kerouac, I think of your mother
and the tears she cried, she cried for none other
than her little boy lost in our little world that hated
and that dared to drag him down. Her little boy courageous
who chose his words from mouths of babes got lost in the wood.
Hip flask slinging madman, steaming cafe flirts,
they all spoke through you.

Hey Jack, now for the tricky part,
when you were the brightest star who were the shadows?
Of the San Francisco beat boys you were the favorite.
Now they sit and rattle their bones and think of their blood stoned days.
You chose your words from mouths of babes got lost in the wood.
The hip flask slinging madman, steaming cafe flirts,
nights in Chinatown howling at night.

Allen baby, why so jaded?
Have the boys all grown up and their beauty faded?
Billy, what a saint they've made you,
just like Mary down in Mexico on All Souls' Day.

You chose your words from mouths of babes got lost in the wood.
Cool junk booting madmen, street minded girls
in Harlem howling at night.
What a tear stained shock of the world,
you've gone away without saying goodbye.


Lyrics submitted by kornchick

Hey Jack Kerouac song meanings
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  • +1
    General Commentwell, obviously its about Jack Kerouac. in my opinion he's the greatest writer to ever pick up a pen. its talking about him traveling during the on the road days. "allen baby, why so jaded?" is probably talking about allen ginsberg, the poet. and Jack's friend. at the end when they say "you've gone away without saying goodbye" its like at the end of his days he was more secluded. and not like he was really ever in the public eye, but when he died, maybe people just didn't expect it. though, he did live a rough life style.
    onemindtohearon June 06, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAbout Allen Ginsburg, William S. Burroughs, and of course, my hero, Jack Kerouac. I just finished On the Road and the Subterraneans and today I got his Selected Letters book from the library. Huzza!
    stonedskateron March 22, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentObviously about Jack Keorauc
    MusicISLife22on March 29, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentNo one has mentioned "Mary down in Mexico on All Souls day". That is William Burroughs common law wife who he accidently shot in the head while playing William Tell.
    DawnCain1968on April 20, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMerchant obviously was influenced by the Beats, though equally clear is the mixed aspect in the lyrics. Her reference to Kerouac being the "brightest" and the "favorite" seems honest, not ironic or sarcastic. He also died young, never reaching fifty -- a heavy drinker, never recovered after he started throwing up blood. The others lived on and watched the Beat Generation fade away, that seems part of the song -- the "blood stoned days" while they sit rattling bones. The song has clear references like their writing, like "howl" and "junkie", and even mentions WIlliam Burroughs wife, in that casel living dangerously was mortal. A literate song, that's always welcome, and also not a simple encomium.
    john saxonon June 06, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Billy" is William S. Burroughs
    TK6022on January 14, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is pretty much responsible for me getting into the Beat writers in the first place, which really kicked off my love for poetry in general. Thanks Natalie!
    DevastatorJr.on October 05, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI read an interview with Alan Ginsberg in which he said he had approached Natalie about the lyric as he found it insulting and she had admitted using his name only cause it rhymed and scanned well.
    pconlon March 24, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think that the implication in these lyrics is that Jack Kerouac was a decent soul led astray by lesser men and women...and that the other beat writers have essentially rode his coattails.

    The lyric about Allen Ginsburg is referring to the fact that he is attracted to much, much younger boys.
    ShaneMCon September 26, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI remember her explanations of it, and came here to hopefully get an actual quote she said about it. These are some of the things she had said about it:
    ----The song is yes, about The Beatniks, the Beat Generation. ---She was not at ll praising the writers of that group, but criticizing them. Snarky, satirical quips and digs on each of them. ---In referencing like "In Harlem, Howling at night", in particular, she was sort of blasting them for their unchecked racism, while and well-off privilege, where that line talks about African Americans being referred to as sub--human, 'howling'dogs. The "Chinatown' reference also is how they devalued and dehumanized Chinese-Americans. "You chose your words"from lost babies, is about how they were emotionally immature, druggies and drunks, total slackers, and petty, childish and biased, and their mother's and the nation mothering these over-wrought neurotic man-children. "Cool Junk"is a reference to drugs, as was 'stoned' , 'junk" Merchant stated that there was another song that took the same critical approach, the XTC song, "Beaten Generation", that went," The beaten generation, raised on a diet of prejudice and misinformation."---Privileged and putting others down, while being glorified drug addicts who hung out with prostitutes and didn't want to grow up, and basically stop being slackers. ---The song was taken to task for being somewhat homophobic : "Allen, why so jaded? Have all the boys grown up, beauty faded". ---She was sort of taking them all to task for their literary version of a sex,drugs and rock and roll band, ---The 'what a saint they made you like Mary" was called-out for seeming anti-Catholic, where Mexicans esp elevated the Virgin Mary to be their god.-- They were self-described stars, fame-seakers, who left others in their shadows, seeking fame and riches.---Hip-flask swinging mad men and cafe flirts, San Francisco boys" is about the burgeoning hippie and gay scene they were a part of, again, about sex drugs and their rock-n-roll lifestyle and goals. Their desire to gain celebrity, in a pre-social-media, pre-celeb world. It's a set of pot-shots really, to that groups and that scene : self-important, narcissistic playboys, who didn't challenged but instead supported the racism, classism, sexism, all the"isms' if you will. Tear-stained departure without goodbyes, how they were made into Marilny Monroe, Dean-types, the You left without saying goodbye,' sort of a"Don't let the door hit ya on your butt as you leave", bye Felicia-type angle to it. She did like their work, mostly, but not how they worked it, they becoming the intellectual stars known for their intentionally self-generated fame, and less so, about what they could have done, namely for one, counter racism, not support it. It was met with criticism for what seemed, and pretty-much was, a dressing-down of the BeatGen, and hyper-critical of them. pointed, catty, and critical of her criticalness.
    danieln7oon August 01, 2017   Link

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