Alvin and Bukowski

dave alvinIt’s probably no coincidence that I’ve posted a song lyric by Dave Alvin and a poem Charles Bukowski in the same night.

Consider this from Acoustic Guitar:

As a working-class son of semirural Downey, California, he did not consider his old neighborhood to be a heartland of song. “Songwriters came from some other place,” he says. Alvin took inspiration from local writers such as Gerald Locklin and bar fly emeritus Charles Bukowski, who held readings in a Long Beach saloon. “When I read him the first few times it was like, ‘Oh my God! Alvarado and Western Ave.? You can write poetry about that?’”

Last night, as I rocked to the Blasters at the House of Blues, I thought about Bukowski and Los Angeles and this quote. On a song like “Help You Dream,” even though neither Los Angeles nor Buk is mentioned, but knowing of the big influence Bukowski had on Alvin, I could sense the aura pervade the lyric. I can’t imagine the scene of the song taking place anywhere but a bar in L.A. And “Hollywood Bed” must have been written after Alvin read a few hundred Bukowski poems about screwing women in Los Angeles.

So both Alvin and Bukowski have been on my mind much of the day. And they aren’t bad people to have on your mind.

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