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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Persecution & Restoration of Dean Moriarty (On the Road)/Aztec Two-Step

This week Classics Rock! is observing Banned Books Week 2009 (September 26-October 3) by featuring songs based on frequently challenged books.

Aztec Two-Step's song The Persecution & Restoration of Dean Moriarty (On The Road), from their 1972 self-titled album, is an homage to Jack Kerouac's 1957 beat classic On the Road, and specifically to the character of Dean Moriarty. Although the book is classified as a novel, it is essentially autobiographical, based on road trips Kerouac made over a period of years and describing incidents involving such friends and fellow writers as Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs. Kerouac used real names in his original manuscript (which he typed out on a 120-foot continuous scroll of paper) but his publisher insisted that the names be fictionalized. So, Kerouac became Sal Paradise, Ginsberg became Carlo Marx, Burroughs became Old Bull Lee, and Cassady became Dean Moriarty. "With the coming of Dean Moriarty began the part of my life you could call my life on the road," Kerouac writes in the book's opening paragraph, and Moriarty is very much the catalyst for what follows. The song depicts Moriarty as almost alarmingly free-spirited and unpredictable: Look at him running don't he know how to walk/He's just too damned cunning you can tell by his talk/You can tell he is rude, like a typical dude/If you want my opinion he belongs under lock. However, it ends on an admiring note: So relax for a moment as you would for your hobby/His beauty abounds in his mind and his body/He’s like the setting sun’s hues, or the dust on his shoes/He’s living he’s naughty, he’s Dean Moriarty, yeah.

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