The Beat Generation Meets The Blank Generation

I’ve heard Richard Hell and the Voidoids sing “Blank Generation” hundreds—if not thousands—of times.  It’s one of those anthemic songs you need to sing along to in a wonderfully exaggerated fashion.  Punk and rockabilly and just kickass in every way, it’s an excellent example of rock and roll perfection.

 

I belong to the Blank Generation

and I can take it or leave it each time

 

What I did not know until recently was the inspiration behind the song.  I have had The Beat Generation boxed set for probably a couple decades, but I never noticed how much one of the novelty songs in this collection sounds like “Blank Generation.”   

While I was working on an essay about the Beats and their influence on my writing, I listened to this set for the first time in I don’t know how long.  As soon as I heard my literary hero Jack Kerouac open the set by reading his words about his generation I was in a time machine traveling back to my early 20s.  It was actually quite a relief to hear his voice.

Immediately following Ti Jean is “The Beat Generation” by Bob McFadden & Dor, a funny little ditty that was the theme song for a Mamie Van Doren B movie of the same name.  The song is not so much a tribute but a sort of stereotype-promoting of beatniks, and I am all for it!

 

Some people say I’m lazy

And my life’s a wreck

But that stuff doesn’t faze me—

I get unemployment checks

 

I run around in sandals

I never, ever shave

And that’s the way I wanna be

When someone digs my grave—

Put a Beat in the White House!

I belong to the Beat Generation

I don’t let anything trouble my mind

I belong to the Beat Generation

And everything’s going just fine—

Weirdsville, yeah

 

Of course there’s a direct lineage from the Beats to the punks.  Most people don’t think of punks as very intellectual—something many Beats prided themselves on—and that does have some basis in reality, but many of them were actually very well read and politically aware.  Both groups thought conformity was a drag, and they all relished being on the outskirts of civilized society.  Drugs were everywhere in both groups.  Working wasn’t a priority at all.  There were losers in each subculture.  But who can deny the impact that they made?

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