Beatnicity roams that untethered waterfront from the dead of night to the crack of dawn, the dangerous backwaters of the urban tangle to the shallow seas of the metropolitan swirl, meanders on the crashing surf of breaking news and wallows in the ever-swelling currents of selective amnesia. And all from an electronic cottage in the heart of the English Pennines. Wherever there is some significant beatnik development, some relevant hipster evolution, some off-the-beaten-trail, unmissable happening, I may take half a look. When I’ve a minute.
Simon Warner teaches the history and culture of popular music at the University of Leeds. His has a particular interest in the relationship between rock music and the Beat Generation writers. His new book, Text and Drugs and Rock’n’Roll, to appear in 2012, considers how Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs shared a relationship with Bob Dylan and the Beatles, Tom Waits and Patti Smith, and many others. A one-time journalist, sometime broadcaster and frequent writer, he took – and achieved – the world’s first MA in Popular Music Studies at the University of Liverpool in the early 1990s. He has been a live rock reviewer and obituarist for the Guardian, penned a long-running column for Pop Matters, and published a number of books with a rock’n’roll-meets-literature theme including Rockspeak (1996) and Howl for Now (2005).