On The Road

(On The Road studio version, 1999. Also known as: Home I'll Never Be)

Well, I left New York in nineteen forty-nine
To go across the country, without a dad-blame dime(1)
Montana in the cold cold fall
I found my father in a gamblin' hall

Father, father, where have you been?
I've been out in the world since I was only ten
Father, father, where have you been?
I've been out in the world since I was only ten

Don't worry about me, about to die of pleurisy
Cross the Mississippi, cross the Tennessee
Cross the Niagara, home I'll never be
Home in ol' Medora, home in ol' Truckee(2)
Apalachicola, home I'll never be

For better or for worse, or thick and thin
I've been married to the little woman
God he loves me, like I love him
I want you to do just the same for him
Well, the worms eat away
But don't worry, watch the wind

So I left Montana on an old freight train
The night my father died in the cold cold rain
Rode to Opelousas, rode to Wounded Knee
Rode to Ogallala, home I'll never be
Rode to Oklahoma, rode to El Cajon(3)
Rode to old Tehatchapi(4), rode to San Antone

Hey! Hey!

Rode to Opelousas, rode to Wounded Knee
Rode to Ogallala, home I'll never be
Rode to Oklahoma, rode to El Cajon
Rode to old Tehatchapi, rode to San Antone

Home I'll never be
Home I'll never be
Home I'll never be
Home I'll never be
Home I'll never be
Home I'll never be

Written by: Jack Kerouac(5)
Published by: Duluoz Publishing Inc. (ASCAP) and Jalma Music (ASCAP)
Recorded at Prairie Sun Recording studios. Cotati, CA/ USA, 1997 (with Primus and Ralph Carney)
Official release: Jack Kerouac Reads "On The Road', 1999
Re-released (On The Road): Orphans (Bastards), (P) & © 2006 Anti Inc.



On The Road

(Live version, 1997. Also known as: Home I'll Never Be)

I left New York nineteen forty-nine
To go across the country, without a dad-blame dime(1)
Montana in the cold cold fall
Found my father in a gamblin' hall

Father, father, where have you been?
I've been in the world since I was only ten
'Don't worry about me, I'm about to die of the pleurisy
Cross the Mississippi, cross the Tennessee
Cross the Niagara, home I'll never be
Home in old Medora, home in ol' Truckee(2)
Apalachicola, home I'll never be

Better or for worse, and thick and thin
Well, I've been married to the little woman
God loved me, just like I loved him
I want you to do just the same for him
Oh, the worms eat away
But don't worry, watch the wind
Oh, the worms eat away
But don't worry, watch the wind
Oh, the worms eat away
But don't worry, watch the wind

So I left Montana on an old freight train
The night my father died in the cold cold rain
Rode to Opelousas, rode to Wounded Knee
Rode to Ogallala, home I'll never be
Home in old Medora, home in ol' Truckee
Apalachicola, home I'll never be
Home I'll never be
Home I'll never be

Written by: Jack Kerouac(5)
Unofficial release: "Tales from the Underground Volume 5", PMS Records, 2000
From the Allen Ginsberg tribute at the UCLA Wadsworth Theatre, Westwood, CA, on June 21, 1997
Published by: Duluoz Publishing Inc. (ASCAP) and Jalma Music (ASCAP)
Official release (Home I'll Never Be): Orphans (Bastards), (P) & © 2006 Anti Inc.

Known cover:
N/A


Listen to audio excerpt of On The Road as sung by Jack Kerouac.
Taken from "Jack Kerouac Reads On The Road' (1999).

Notes:

(1) A dad-blame dime
- Dad-blame is slang roughly being a less cussy version of god-damn. (Submitted by Drew Slayton. E-mail message to Tom Waits Library. October, 2001).
- Also transcribed as: "To go across the country, without a bad blame dime." (Submitted by Ulf Berggren. Tom Waits eGroups discussionlist, 2000)

(2) In part four, chapter 2 of Kerouac's book "On the Road", Jack is singing a little song: "Home in Missoula, Home in Truckee, Home in Opelousas, Ain't no home for me, Home in old Medora, Home in Wounded Knee, Home in Ogallala, Home I'll never be" (Submitted by Ulf Berggren. Tom Waits eGroups discussionlist, 2000)

(3) El Cajon, is in California outside Los Angeles, around San Diego. I know that there is a very old railway there that goes through Cajon pass. I don't know much more. But I'm pretty sure of it. (Submitted by Drew Slayton. E-mail message to Tom Waits Library. October, 2001)

(4) Tehatchapi: "which is a city in Kern county in California which I in fact live about 15 miles from. It was at one point the only way to get between Los Angles (or San Francisco in Kerouac's case) and Bakersfield. It also contained the Tehatchapi Loop, where the railway, after running through the Tehatchapi Mountain, loops around and crosses on itself by tunnel as the only possibility of getting over the tremendous grade between the two levels." (Submitted by Drew Slayton. E-mail message to Tom Waits Library. October, 2001)

(5) Original version: "On The Road". Jack Kerouac Reads "On The Road', 1999. Written by: Jack Kerouac: "Left New York nineteen forty-nine. To go across the country. without a bad blame dime. Montana in the cold cold fall. I found my father in a gambling hall. Father, father, where have you been? I've been out in the world since I was only ten. Son, he said, don't worry 'bout me. I'm about to die of pleurisy. Cross the Mississippi, cross the Tennessee. Cross the Niagara, home I'll never be. Home in ol' Medora, home in ol' Truckee. Apalachicola, home I'll never be. Better or for worse, thick and thin. Like being married to the little woman. God loved me, just like I loved him. I want you to do the same just for him. The worms eat away. But don't worry, watch the wind. The worms eat away. But don't worry, watch the wind. So I left Montana on an old freight train. the night my father died in the cold cold rain. Rode to Opelousas, rode to Wounded Knee. Rode to Ogallala, home I'll never be. Home I'll never be."
- Tom Waits (2006): "One is a ballad and one is a blues. What happened, I made the song first with Primus, the rocker version, Home I'll Never Be. And then Hal Wiliner asked me to come down and play for an Allen Ginsberg memorial. There were a lot of people there talking about him. I didn't have a band. So I said, well, this is an actual song written by Jack Kerouac - an a capella song they found on one of the tapes. [Sings] "I left New York, 1949. To go across the country without a damn blame dime! Montana in the cold, cold fall! found my father in a gambling hall..." Kerouac sang it alone on a microphone - it's on a collection of his work - and it's beautiful, very touching. So I tried to do my version like that. I ended up liking it. Somebody had the tape from that night, so we stuck it on there." (Source: "My Wild Years And The Woman That Saved My Life", Word magazine (UK), November 9, 2006. By Mick Brown) 
- Tim Perlich (2006); "Another song on the Bastards disc, Home I'll Never Be, was similarly born of a fragment from the past that serendipitously came his way. Despite the song's being credited to beat poet Jack Kerouac, the forlorn hymn to the highway life turns out to be one of Waits's most personally revealing. When he poignantly sings the lines "Father, father, where you been? I've been in this world since I was only 10," it's not really Kerouac's life he's singing about. Waits is calling out to his own father, who left home never to be seen again after a divorce in 1960, when Waits would've been 10 years old." (Source: "Tom Waits: Haunted songster's revelatory dispatch from the Twilight Zone", Now Magazine (Canada). Vol. 26, no. 11. November 16 - 22, 2006. By Tim Perlich)
- Tom Waits (2006): "Kerouac's nephew had this song of Jack's, or at least some of his words he wanted me to record. I guess Jack was at a party somewhere and snuck off into a closet and started singing into a reel-to-reel tape deck, like, 'I left New York in 1949, drove across the country....' I wound up turning it into a song, and I performed it at a memorial for Allen Ginsberg... "I found Kerouac and Ginsberg when I was a teenager, and it saved me. Growing up without a dad, I was always looking for a father figure, and those guys sorta became my father figures. Reading On The Road added some interesting mythology to the ordinary and sent me off on the road myself with an investigative curiosity about the minutiae of life." (Source: "Tom Waits: Haunted songster's revelatory dispatch from the Twilight Zone", Now Magazine (Canada). Vol. 26, no. 11. November 16 - 22, 2006. By Tim Perlich)
- Tom Waits (2006): "Well you know, he [Jack Kerouac] recorded it on a little reel-to-reel in a closet in the middle of a party one night, and uh... his uh... one of his nephews, Jim Sampas uh got a hold of it, and put it on a Kerouac compilation. Uhm so, I heard it and uh, yeah he was singing. It was really nice to hear Jack singing. I think it worked pretty well on that sequence after that Bukowski thing about the kid on the bus in North Carolina, and then it set ways on this piano, that's "Home I'll Never Be". (Source: "Tom Waits: Rock Classics, With A Gravelly Rasp", NPR's World Café from WXPN (USA) by David Dye. December 15, 2006)