Charles Bukowski is a dead man. He has been a dead man for almost 25 years now. That’s ok. People die. Bach died. Beethoven died. Hell, even Wagner died but they say he had it coming. Bukowski is one of them now. Some talented last name rotting away in some pauper’s grave.
They don’t make ’em like Bukowski anymore. A womanising antihero, who wrote honest explicit poems and stories about his hard knock life in the city of Angels. His influence is everywhere. Less well known is that he was also a classical music aficionado. He considered wordless symphonic music that presented life in its rawest form the highest form of poetry:
To my right, the radio works hard bringing me more great classical music. I listen to 3 or 4 hours a night as I am doing other things, or nothing. It’s my drug, it washes the crap of the day right out of me. The classical composers can do this for me. The poets, the novelists, the short story writes can’t. A gang of fakes.
(Excerpt from: The Captain Is Out To Lunch…)
Sex, drugs & symphonies
Through his poems Bukowski lived classical music in a way that would have shamed Keith Richards. He drank and got high on Beethoven, fucked girlfriends and prostitutes with Mahler playing in the background, worked diligently while his radio played Brahms, celebrated freedom with Tchaikovsky and Sibelius in cars, bars and at the tracks and he contemplated matters of life and death with Bach.
Lo-Fi in high places
He preferred his classical music alone in dirty kitchens on dirty nights, with enough beer, wine and cigarettes to last until the crack of dawn. Drinking, smoking and typing away on his Mechanical Lazarus, with his portable radio tuned to classical stations. To no ones surprise he grew a special liking for composers who wrote close to the bone, colored outside the lines, fell ill, went mad, committed suicide, clashed within the system or otherwise struggled at some point in life. Men like him who had no desire for metaphors. He listened to them, read about them and they became a fixture in his writing.