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Ben Gibbard Turns To Kerouac As Inspiration For New Death Cab for Cutie Album

August 31, 2007 1:11 PM ET

Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard is following in Jack Kerouac's footsteps in search of inspiration for his band's next record. But fans expecting a rollicking ode to debauched living will be disappointed: It's not the beat poet's classic tale of youth and abandon On the Road that's on Gibbard's mind -- he's digging Kerouac's dark exploration of the perils of addiction and arrested development, Big Sur. "I don't want to be overdramatic about it, but I'm starting to see a lot of my bad habits get the best of me," Gibbard told the San Francisco Weekly. "Living this life in the same sorta way that Kerouac lived ... you get to hang out at shows and drink and you're able to not really face reality and adulthood the way most of my friends are."

Gibbard worked with Kerouac's nephew on a documentary about Big Sur that also includes contributions from Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure, Tom Waits and Jay Farrar. Then the singer-guitarist found himself planning a two-week songwriting retreat at the Big Sur cabin where Kerouac wrote the 1962 novel; he plans to hole up and sort through ideas for the next Death Cab record there.

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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