Gibbard And Farrar Set Kerouac's 'Big Sur' To Music

Hear 'One Fast Move Or I'm Gone: Music From Kerouac's Big Sur' In Its Entirety

Audio for this feature is no longer available. The album was released on Oct. 27, 2009.

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Benjamin Gibbard and Jay Farrar's collaboration is based on Jack Kerouac's 1962 novel Big Sur. Autumn de Wilde/Shore Fire Media hide caption

itoggle caption Autumn de Wilde/Shore Fire Media
gibbardfarrar main

Benjamin Gibbard and Jay Farrar's collaboration is based on Jack Kerouac's 1962 novel Big Sur.

Autumn de Wilde/Shore Fire Media

They'd never met until they discovered their mutual admiration for writer Jack Kerouac. Jay Farrar of Son Volt and Benjamin Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie were both at a San Francisco recording session in 2007, working on music for a Jim Sampas documentary about Jack Kerouac. After completing that project, Farrar and Gibbard decided to work on some music based on words by Kerouac. They would choose Big Sur, Kerouac's 1962 novel, and write 12 songs. Together, they comprise One Fast Move or I'm Gone: Kerouac's Big Sur, available here in its entirety for the week leading up to its Oct. 20 release.

The bulk of the songwriting took place during a five-day burst by Farrar. Though Farrar has a library of Kerouac books, he'd never read Big Sur — a novel about an alcoholic who retreats to a cabin in Big Sur to dry out, only to find that he drinks because he has to.

After hearing the demos Farrar had written, Sampas looked for others to work on the musical project. Gibbard heard what Farrar was doing — taking Kerouac's words and putting them to song — and found himself more involved. Over the course of the next year or so, he'd contribute his voice to nearly half the songs on One Fast Move.

The sessions would take place at four different studios, including ones in San Francisco, St. Louis and Los Angeles. The result is a dark, slow-burning record — but, true to the spirit of the novel, bits of light shine through.

Please let us know what you think of One Fast Move or I'm Gone in the comments section below.

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