An 18-Hour Playlist of Readings by the Beats: Kerouac, Ginsberg & Even Bukowski Too

beat generation

Plen­ty of us get tuned in to the Beats through print — maybe a yel­lowed copy of Howl, a mass-mar­ket Naked Lunch, a fifth- or sixth-hand On the Road — but some­times the verse or prose that so thrills us on those pages fair­ly demands to be spo­ken aloud, prefer­ably by the Beat in ques­tion. That may have proven a tricky desire to ful­fill in decades past, but now Spo­ti­fy has made it near­ly effort­less to hear the Beats when­ev­er we like: you can find over eigh­teen hours of mate­r­i­al on a playlist called, straight­for­ward­ly enough, The Beats.

These 249 tracks include not just fig­ures like the pre­vi­ous­ly allud­ed to Allen Gins­berg, William S. Bur­roughs, and Jack Ker­ouac, but oth­er beloved Beats such as Gre­go­ry Cor­so, Peter Orlovsky — and Charles Bukows­ki, not a fig­ure one nec­es­sar­i­ly asso­ciates close­ly with that move­ment. Some Bukows­ki and/or Beat enthu­si­asts will tell you that each would have noth­ing to do with the oth­er. Yet the hard-liv­ing poet and self-con­fessed “dirty old man” occa­sion­al­ly admit­ted to some­thing approach­ing fond­ness for cer­tain mem­bers of the sup­pos­ed­ly high­er-mind­ed coun­ter­cul­ture: “He’s bet­ter to have around than not to have around,” Bukows­ki once said of Gins­berg. “With­out his com­ing through, none of us would be writ­ing as well as we are doing now, which is not well enough, but we hang on.”

With the Beats’ Spo­ti­fy playlist, you can judge for your­self not only whether they and Bukows­ki wrote “well enough” (though lit­er­ary his­to­ry seems to have proven that piece of self-dep­re­ca­tion wrong), but also whether they spoke well enough — or rather, whether they per­formed their own work in the way you’d always imag­ined it in your head. What­ev­er your assess­ment, rest assured you won’t hear voic­es like Gins­berg’s, Bur­roughs’ and espe­cial­ly Bukowski’s any­where else. If you don’t have the Spo­ti­fy soft­ware itself yet, no prob­lem: you can down­load it free here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Naropa Archive Presents 5,000 Hours of Audio Record­ings of Allen Gins­berg, William Bur­roughs & Oth­er Beat Writ­ers

Rare Footage of Allen Gins­berg, Jack Ker­ouac & Oth­er Beats Hang­ing Out in the East Vil­lage (1959)

A Read­ing of Charles Bukowski’s First Pub­lished Sto­ry, “After­math of a Lengthy Rejec­tion Slip” (1944)

Lis­ten to Charles Bukows­ki Poems Being Read by Bukows­ki Him­self & the Great Tom Waits

Hear 130 Min­utes of Charles Bukowski’s First-Ever Record­ed Read­ings (1968)

Col­in Mar­shall writes on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Comments (3)
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  • caro says:

    ohh please here in buenos aires / argenti­na, no spo­ti­fy // please may be there is a way to “open cul­ture” a tiny bit more ; ) / i am dying to hear this… and great­ful u make it acce­si­ble!

  • hugu says:

    haha, yes “open cul­ture” this a tiny bit more please put it up on

  • Angela Norman says:

    Thank you so much for pre­sent­ing this playlist and Spo­ti­fy for mak­ing it avail­able. Wow!

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