Friday, March 18, 2016

Spontaneous human combustion, Forteanism, synchronicity, and Jack Kerouac

For pretty much as long as I can remember, I have had a fascination with unexplained ("anomalous") phenomena: ghosts, the Loch Ness Monster, UFO sightings, Bigfoot, etc. For the past few weeks I have been listening to a podcast by Micah Hanks called The Gralian Report, in which he takes up such topics from a critical but not dismissive perspective (as well as other topics in the news, psychology, culture, government secrecy, and technology -- all of which are equally interesting to me). I have lots of time to listen to podcasts as I drive an hour each way to work.

From Mr. Hanks I learned the term, Fortean, which means someone who is interested in topics such as those mentioned above. The term derives from Charles Hoy Fort, an American writer and researcher into such anomalous phenomena. But I digress....

On this morning's drive the subject was spontaneous human combustion (SHC), a fascinating topic, and it reminded me of a bluegrass song my band, North Fork, used to perform: Time Left to Wander. We learned it from Country Gazette, one of the best bluegrass bands of all time. It was on their album, Out to Lunch (and also Sunny Side of the Mountain, I think).

I tried to find a version of the song on-line but came up with nothing. I typed the first line as a Google search and found this page: It's an elegy written to a guy named Paco Huch, and it features many of the lines from the song.

Below are the lyrics. If you compare it to the above article, you will see verbatim passages. I am left to wonder if the songwriter borrowed from this article or vice versa! It's a mystery I'd love readers to solve. Let me know if  you have some insight into this.

TIME LEFT TO WANDER by Bill Martin  
It was pure speculation what became of him
It was clear he disappeared from his easy chair last night
In a ball of light 
So the local TV station sent a camera crew
To his home where he lived alone
And the scientist said in the interview 
Now he has time left to wander
Yes he's far away from the wind and the falling rain
Now he has time left to wander
And there's nobody left but the family dog 
And they say he was a hermit always kept to himself
Eyes of grey and far away
Always lost within his books upon the shelf 
So they offered Maharishi a professional fee
To disclose just what he knows
Of his routes and whereabouts in the galaxy

Those are the lyrics as I remember them. You can hear some of the song here: How many songs do you know about spontaneous human combustion?

Of course, regular readers are wondering by now: What is the Kerouac connection?

Well, the URL of the Paco Huch elegy contains the term Big Sur and is hosted by Big Sur Internet, and that was enough for me, although I suspect Paco was a beat character from what I've read. Besides. the topic of the song has the term "spontaneous" in it, so there's another Kerouac link. Oh, and the songwriter's name was Martin, so there's another Kerouac connection (the family name from The Town and the City).

Like I always say: everything connects to Kerouac. Everything.

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