One Fast Move or I'm Gone : Music From Kerouac's Big Sur

This record has been released completely under the radar. Aside from a brief mention on Pitchfork, I don't recall anyone covering this one. Jay Farrar (Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt) and Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie) form one of the oddest pairings in recent memory, to collaborate on the soundtrack to the DVD-only release of the Jack Kerouac Big Sur-inspired One Fast Move or I'm Gone. The whole thing seems to have just fallen out of the sky, but both the record and film are now available (and can be bought together).

I read Big Sur about two months ago and found it to be a bit too much for my liking. It was like reading the written words of someone with severe ADD who's not me.

But back to the record. I've now had it for about two days, and thus far, I'm quite impressed. Jay Farrar played an enormous role in my early-90s burgeoning love for music, but I've found his releases to be slightly scattered since Son Volt's fantastic first three records, ending in 1999's phenomenal Wide Swing Tremolo. I knew nothing about Gibbard up until this record, other than the fact that he married She of She & Him.

Oh god do I hate the word the purity, but that's the best word I can conjure up to describe this record. It's just a very straightforward, pretty record. Just like a Kerouac novel, the guitars, both acoustic and pedal, and the words culled straight from the novel, summon the cross-country roadtrips that Farrar's Son Volt captured so perfectly on 1995's Trace.

The best song is likely the title track, but Gibbard's "California Zephyr" and "These Roads Don't Move" are clear highlights along with Farrar's "Sea Engines" and "Big Sur." When I first heard of this project I couldn't imagine it not resulting in something darn near horrific. But, as is almost always the case, I have been proven wrong. These are road songs. Or maybe songs for reflection. However they're absorbed, they certainly strike a chord. And they've inspired a personal return to Big Sur.