Catholic Boy

Catholic Boy

We were lucky to have had Jim Carroll among us. His book The Basketball Diaries gave us eagle-eyed insight into gnarly teen junky-land (Leonardo DiCaprio played Carroll in the film version), and his poetry and prose documented New York City’s underbelly in the ’60s and ’70s in a way that no one else could have. At the urging of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, Carroll and a crack band released this brilliant 1980 debut album that had all the pathos, heart, and persuasiveness of his poetry and all the power-chord heft of great rock ’n’ roll. His talky-croon wasn’t without precedent (see Lou Reed), but rarely had anyone done it better. On the beautiful “Day and Night,” Carroll wrestles within the light and dark innocence of meeting a woman, while the hit “People Who Died” (heard in movies, including E.T. The Extra Terrestrial) details the inevitable ends of lives that never strayed far from the hard fringes. Carroll’s characters find footing in despair and only sometimes step up for air, and they make the songs great. Essential.

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