Hearts Crossing the Center Line (11 songs inspired by the writings of Jack Kerouac)

by Bill Mallonee/WPA



From "Ti Jean"
(Hearts Crossing the Centerline)
Songs inspired by the writings of Jack Kerouac

This Ep is based on the life of Jack Kerouac.
Except for From the Beats Down to the Buddha, all of these tunes were written over the last 10 years. Jack is one of my favorite authors. Jack's writing is deeply personal and journalistic.

Often misunderstood and even misappropriated by his peers, he considered himself a religious writer, a seeker searching for contact with permanence & transcendence. He never lost his love for his French/Catholic roots.
Kerouac, with the preciseness of an "outsider," challenged post-war America to assess it's values, it's goals and even it's lack of spiritual focus.

HARD LUCK & HEART ATTACK was inspired by Kerouac's work entitled Desolation Angels.
It opens with Jack atop Mount Desolation where he would do fire watches for the U.S. Forestry Services. It touches on his self destructive lifestyle, trips to San Francisco to hang with his friends. Above all, I wanted to highlight Kerouac's reverent belief in the innocence of the American spirit. I tried to write all these songs from Jack's mindset.
I've been to Lowell, seen the "On The Road"manuscript, toured the Kerouac museum. Jack's old Underwood is there. visitors were invited to type a message on it.
I quoted from this song and addressed it to "Ti Jean," (Little John) Jack's mothers term of endearment for her son.

Tenderness was one of Kerouac's overlooked qualities, I believe.
It is my hope that by listening to these songs, some of that virtue of his tender spirit might be restored to his legacy.

bill mallonee
Santa Fe, NM Jan. 2011


released January 14, 2011

Personnel on:
"Buddha," "Skin Intact," "All the Junkies & Exiles," "When Your Heart Gets Broken (It Just Keeps on Breaking)," "Bakersfield," "Western Skies," "Going Down," " Pillow of Stars," " Nomenclature"
Bill Mallonee: vocals, guitars, bass drums on
Muriah Rose; vocals, keyboards
Personnel on SOBER UP:
Bill Mallonee: vocals, guitars
Muriah Rose: vocals, keyboards
Seth Hendershot; drums, smiles
Robbie: bass
(produced by Tom Lewis & bill mallonee)
personnel on "HARD LUCK & HEART ATTACK"
(produced by: Buddy Miller & Bill Mallonee)
Bill Mallonee; Vocals, guitars, harmonica
Ken Hutson: guitar, bgv's
Jake Bradley: Bass
Brady Blade: drums


all rights reserved



Bill Mallonee

Bill Mallonee is an Americana artist w/ 75 plus albums over a 25 year career. Voted by Paste Music Magazine #65 in their "Top 100 Living Songwriters" poll. He was the
founding member of Vigilantes of Love. He has worked with Mark Heard, Buddy Miller, Emmylou Harris, & Peter Buck from REM.
His most recent work, "The Rags of Absence" released in Jan. 2017.
... more

contact / help

Contact Bill Mallonee

Streaming and
Download help

Shipping and returns

Redeem code

words/music: bill mallonee

there's always time to do in Denver...
and note books to fill up
and tea to get you spaced...
when the mountains aren't enough
these asphalt vibrations...
that call so loud and long
that lead to a lover's bed...
or another town alone

It's one step at a time...
when yer heart's crossing the center line
with your knapsack dreams and ragged elements in tow
and the mystery that pursued ya'...
from the beats down to the Buddha
and the things you never could let go of...
and the things you could quite let go of...

running ink horn lines in red wine;
big sur sea sounds losing yer mind.
the bitter toll and burden of the miles
But something pretty close to love...
musta filled those bigger skies above
and keep your words all fractured and colliding

Lowell’s lonely factories...
post-war America gettin’ free
leaving all the brightest and best
you n’er felt that understood,
bangin’ on the Underwood
puttin' all their alloy to the test
Track Name: Bill Mallonee/Victory Garden - SOBER UP
SOBER UP music and lyrics: bill mallonee

Coming down...from a dream
wake up call.....coming clean
here’s a life....a poured out cup
the last page....hey, sober up
sober up...and get home

more or less...underneath
house of cards...house of freaks
and the coins...well, they’re all spent
on distractions and dis---appointments
here’s a life...a poured out cup
the last page...hey, sober up
sober up...and get home

And it’s hard, so hard to make a stab
when everything’s all up for grabs
with skin so thin and feet so lost
no pocket change...all bets are off
here’s a life...a poured out cup
the last page...hey, sober up
sober up...and get home
words/music: bill mallonee

It came as a whisper...it came in the night
as you were driving...past the neon lights
and it was last call...and that’s enough said
all that was given...turned from green to redone
One thing they don’t tell you...there is no mistakin’
once your heart gets broken...
it just keeps on breaking
it just keeps on breaking

Another one down...3rd one this week
reporters speculate...about toxicity
it was said that he trafficked...with magic potions
we’re all filling our holes...picking our poisons
One thing they don’t tell you...cause they’re good at fakin’
once your heart gets broken...
it just keeps on breaking...it just keeps on breaking

All the simple truths...take you by surprise
they come into sharp relief...in a certain slant of light
time to drop you bags...time to pick up your key
don’t worry tipping the bellboy...you won’t need your things
One thing they don’t tell you...till after you’re shaken
once your heart gets broken...
it just keeps on breaking...
it just keeps on breaking
Track Name: PILLOW OF STARS (Fate & Sad Reversals)
PILLOW OF STARS (FATE AND SAD REVERSALS) music/lyrics: bill mallonee

pass me that paper n’ pen
and shot to boot
let a dreamer preach a sermon
and a fool speak half-a heart full
and baby, when you love...
ya’ find out who you are
wherever you lay your head...
may there be a pillow of stars
and though fate and sad reversals
may slow your journey home
you’ll get there cause that deal was done...
a long, long time ago...

And what cha said with your eyes
was more n’ you wanted to speak
my how we use these stammerin’ tongues
to steady stumblin’ feet

I dunno why I rock this way
or why I roll with such an art
dunno why speak these words
to break my own heart
Track Name: (I REMEMBER) ALL THE JUNKIES AND EXILES (2 track demo)
Words/lyrics: bill mallonee

No longer strong...the sap it slows down
when you don...your late autumn smile
phantoms die on rooftops...of Mexico City
I remember...the junkies and exiles

and they die in the hush...
of sun-drenched cathedrals
and they die in the barbed-wire...
of failures and upheavals
and they die at the gateposts...
of their children’s tongues
on sweat sheeted beds...

a prayer to gentle Jesus...tequila at the bar
so you to remember to forget...who you really are
Old Bull with his needles...checking out in style
I remember...the junkies and exiles

so you burned every bridge...
and stole more than a kiss
broke a heart a long the way...
to say all this
just to stand on a soap-box...
and pretend it was a throne
till that old soapbox...
became your home

you learned to pray alone...
with just the tears of a child
‘cause God?
Well, He might show His face...with that late Autumn smile
too many highways...
too many kicks
all for something like that...
but nothing not like this
music/lyrics: bill mallonee

You crawled into that boxcar...thinkin' you were alone
eyes got adjusted to the light...and those 50 other souls
some runnin' from the law...some runnin' harder from the Lord
most lookin' for an honest job...to feed the kids back home


from the drought in Oklahoma...to the stockyards of Bakersfield
it's mostly bread you begged for...and some sawdust in your meal
the only gold i ever found...the only treasure i did find
was looking into your sweet eyes...your body next to mine

how much of this is punishment? how much are ya' choosin'?
how much got set in motion....when the garden fell to ruins?
would you be my brother and sister...we all could use a home
the pride of man may stand tall for a spell...ah, but no one goes at this alone

There's so little we walk out with...and there's so much to be lost
seems to me it's easy to see...where all made of the same cloth
so you crawl into that boxcar...thinkin' yer alone
let your eyes rest with a hallowed-ness...on all those other souls
(music and lyrics: bill mallonee)

this is one of those nights...a halo rings the moon
you venture out on those hard streets of gloom
the moon shines so bright pinned to her curtain of blue
but the only sound you hear...is the shuffling of your shoes

this is one of those nights...where there’s no where to hide
another neon happy hour...fell a lifetime shy
and your hearts a lonely ocean...and your heart’s an empty tomb
the only sound you hear...is the shuffling of your shoes

I’ve sung a million truths
whispered a million lies
learned to do ‘em both
looking straight into your eyes

keep to the back roads...hey, the underground’s even better
you navigate the strange terrian...with a different nomenclature
this is one of those wher God could show up soon...
but the only sound you hear...is the shuffling of your shoes
words/music: bill mallonee

I hear they call it walkin' wounded
oh, if words did just what they should
nomenclature is a treasure that get's looted
baby, ain't we all just damaged goods?

With souls as big as western skies
like a field that is straining but lying fallow
all the fruits dead 'fore it arrives
growing up into your own shadow

If i could just hear you whisper my name
disturb the universe's dead air
whispered like you really mean it
before i vanish in thin air

awaiting something like catharsis
you've already blown the whole damn thing
here's your ghost and there's your pauper
each exchanging wedding rings

So, conjure up the memory of the laughter
seems like it all once fell down for free
where'd the hour glass finally run out?
the one lying crushed beneath your feet?
Hard Luck and Heart Attack Run Time: 4:20
music/lyrics:Bill Mallonee

clouds break for a moment when you're coming off Desolation
and Frisco's your appointment you're the way you were before
trying to gaze east but with no one to depend on
and the blisters on your feet
yeah from coming down the mountain

your friends won't let you down but friends they're not the refuge
you're tearing up the town with a hip flask of red wine
scrawling visions buzzed in that five and dime notepad
saving them just because us angels seemed so sad

a ticket from the coat-check girl
her words and flesh are laughing
taking down her number
on that lipstick-stained napkin
sainthood for anyone
yeah who knows you lose it to save it
a prayer for everyone
who's ever been out on the pavement
a sound inside of me
as i'm falling through the cracks
hard luck and heart attack
of hard luck yeah and heart attack

arms around me
if i'm going through the ceiling
service stations of the cross
yeah the doctors they need healing
things clear for a moment
when you're coming off Desolation
between nothing and the atonement
it all bleeds behind your cadence
Track Name: WITH YOUR SKIN INTACT (demo)
words/music: bill mallonee

Seems you were searchin'
pretty much all the time
stole a few glimpses
crossing the centerline
just get down in the chasm
and run in a river of doubt
easy to get in there
a lil' harder to get out

to get out with no compass
to get out with no map
ah, to get out
with your skin intact

you chiseled it on paper
carved it in notebooks
yeah, you did it on wine
and all those 'bennies" that you took
just to stay at the wheel
in case wea ll forgot
never missed an experience
no, no, not on yor watch

maybe it was in 'Frisco?
maybe Mexico City?
from Buddha high desolations
to a mother's chains of pity
if love is an anchor
maybe you needed more
when yer driftin' alone
1000 miles from shore

you shook your fist at the readers
of most of your books
said they dug all the wrong things
and the wrong is what they took
yeah, you saw it coming
saw it all about to go down
sometimes you quit running
just to get outta town
GOING DOWN Words/music: bill mallonee

I’m going down...I’m going down again
what you thought was solid...isn’t
a little more than scared of just living in this skin
I’m going down again

I’m going down...down, going down today
something else got the last say
words lose their meaning or jet get in the way
I’m going down today

I’m going down...going down still
peeling off the labels but something has been killed
craving is a mad-dog and it’s nipping at your heels
you got every act down...except that one of your will
I’m going down still...I’m going down still

watch my best and you can see right through
faith and falsehood entangling you
It’s easy to get lost and it’s hard to find your health
you get good at the fine art of lying to yourself

So, I’m going down...town tonight
going out, going out....going out like a light
please, tell me baby, it’ll be alright
I’m going down tonight...I’m going down tonight

If you like Hearts Crossing the Center Line (11 songs inspired by the writings of Jack Kerouac), you may also like: