Well fuck. Let’s do the math, shall we? Joey Ramone: 49 short years before dying of lymphoma. Joe Strummer: 50 years on this earth before his heart killed him. Jim Carroll: 60 years (many of them on drugs) before his heart killed him. Everyone in Fallout Boy: as of this writing, they’re still alive. Where’s your Intelligent Design now?
So yeah. I just read that Jim Carroll, author of The Basketball Diaries – yes, the book that is the basis for the Lenny DiCaprio drug flick – and writer/performer of Catholic Boy, (one of the best albums I’ve ever heard; it’s frequently hailed as the last great punk album. Conveniently, it came out in the U.S. the same year London Calling and I did) died on Friday. According to his ex-wife, it was a heart attack. No word yet on whether or not he looked like 65 when he died. But seriously, Carroll was, from the little I’ve read, a pretty awesome poet. And I’ve already pointed out this year that Catholic Boy, though a recent discovery, has had a profound effect on my musical life. Any way you slice it, this fucking sucks. I mean seriously: Death couldn’t pick off a Jonas Brother or something?
You can read an obituary here that’s pretty good, I suppose. Patti Smith pushed the dude towards music and I’m sure he didn’t disappoint her. There’s lots of jokes going around about “People Who Died” because it’s considered his big hit, and that’s cool, but you’re really missing out if you dig that song and don’t check out the rest of Catholic Boy. Carroll was an enormous creative talent and maybe his death will bring more attention to his writing and music. Dude even inspired the Hold Steady (regular Bollocks! readers will recognize the Hold Steady as my rarely-mentioned favorite band), an influence which is pretty obvious if you listen to Catholic Boy. Did I mention you should listen to Catholic Boy? Because you should. After all, it’s too late to fall in love with Sharon Tate, but not too late to fall in love with Jim Carroll’s thunderously badass music.
I’m really bummed here. I had just really gotten into the Clash in 2002 (the first year I heard London Calling) when Joe Strummer died and now that I’m really into Jim Carroll’s stuff, he’s kicked off. I also just recently listened to Black Flag for the first time and (naturally) loved it, so maybe Henry Rollins should take some extra care for the next couple of days, yeah? We can’t afford to lose any more awesome people.
I’m gonna raise a toast to Jim Carroll (say hi to St. Joe and Joey Ramone and George Carlin and Kurt Vonnegut) and leave you with this awesome pairing of (what else?) Dead Rising and “People Who Died.”