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by Jim Allen

September 26, 2013

Rock 'n' Roll Street Poets

by Jim Allen  |  September 26, 2013

There was a time when a great divide existed, with introspective singer-songwriters on one side and rough-edged, street-savvy rockers on the other. With some notable exceptions, that gap was seldom bridged until a new kind of hybrid emerged in the first half of the '70s. That era saw the emergence of artists like Bruce Springsteen, Elliott Murphy, a newly solo Lou Reed and Reed's old pal Garland Jeffreys (whose new album, Truth Serum, shows the 70-year-old songsmith still going strong). They represented a new musical breed that had grown up embracing rock 'n' roll but wrote with the kind of lyrical luster mostly associated with the singer-songwriter crowd. In addition to combining rock muscle and literary flair, their songs would often mix gritty, street-level imagery with a touch of the poetic, forging a feel that fed the head and the gut at the same time. Consider this a compendium of rock 'n' roll street poets, one that also includes some of the style's early adopters and outliers, as well as those who have carried the fire forward.

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