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Ode to Neal

October 31st, 2019 · 14 Comments · Kerouac and The Beats


Neal Cassady — by Carolyn Cassady (courtesy of the Cassady fam)


From Dean Moriarty . . . to Dead immortality,

The street-kid who read . . . was a legend in bed,

But more than the lays . . . he inspired a blaze

In the hearths of the writers . . . pulling all-nighters —

From Jack with his scroll . . . to Keez with a bowl —

There’s that Cassady kid . . . driving the id

Like he drove the bus . . . with all of us,

His passengers even today.


The abandoned pup . . . pulled himself up —

Blue-eyeing his way . . . into lives by the day

Till finally he found . . . his rock solid ground

With a brainy doll . . . who had it all —

Midwestern sense . . . while big-city intense —

Carolyn with brushes . . . fighting off the rushes,

Cassady with lashes . . . charmin’ all the lasses,

The dynamo with the laser beam . . . the minstrel show with the Irish gleam,

The railroad job with the travel free . . . the picket fence with the books and tea,

Till that weed {now legal} sent him away . . . it was never the same after that day —

Walked into jail in the darkened ’50s . . . walked back out in the lightning ’60s —

A black-&-white lock-up . . . to a full-color break-up.


The Bus came by and he got on . . . that’s when it all caught on,

There was Cowboy Neal at the wheel . . . his golden spiels seal the deal,

Generating generations . . . in their latest incarnations,

A second wave to hang-ten surf . . . a second set on brand new turf;

While Carolyn’s holdin’ Bancroft, and Jack’s on Judy Ann . . . Allen’s back in Frisco, and you know he’s got a plan

To loop in Dylan’s ‘lectric clan . . . and Uncle Jerry from ol’ San-Fran,

To which Neal toasts – “I got this, man,” . . . and drives on over with girlfriend Anne;

Igniting Pranksters, like sparking Jack . . . changing history back-to-back,

From ’50s sprout to ’60s bloom . . . one man made the room go zoom.


And now he’s gone some 50 years . . . but his spirit’s here synching gears,

With every “Road” and “Cody” sold . . . with every Dead show joint that’s rolled,

With every joy in every turn . . . of every trip and youthful yearn,

Neal still beckons with his light . . . spurring others to try and write

An epic life that’s worth the sharing . . . an honest soul that’s worth the baring;

It’s who he’s been since he hit the scene . . . from troubled teen to hero Dean,

He lived his life the speed he drove . . . and left us all a treasure trove

Of books and tapes and pics and tales . . . of girls and trips and friends and trails

Still followed in the railroad earth . . . that he and Jack bestowed with worth;

So thank you now and thank you then . . . for being a muse to women & men,

And reminding us when we wonder why . . . to live life fully before we die.




Here’s a nice ode to his wife Carolyn.

Here’s one to that Jack guy who wrote about him.

Here’s one to his Road, railroad & chess partner Al Hinkle.

Here’s a whole book in tribute to the Cassadys — “On The Road with Cassadys & Furthur Visions

Here’s where you can get my “Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac

Here’s a book with some background on “How The Beats Begat The Pranksters

Here’s a bunch of info on original Merry Prankster George Walker & my “Jack & Neal Ride Again” live shows.


by Brian Hassett  —   —

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there —


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14 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Cathy Cassady // Nov 1, 2019 at 9:39 AM

    Tears are streaming.  Your ode to Dad has me seeking Kleenex, dear Bro.
    I’ve never read anything more beautiful or moving. Truly.

    Can’t thank you enuff. 

    How do you do that? You are a magician.

    You captured Dad’s whole life, his whole aura, his whole undeniable charisma, energy, and legendary zeal. Your words bring him and his world to life … along with his buddies and women. I’m in awe!
    And most grateful to you, sweet soul, for lending your considerable talents to the world.

    I will cherish this remarkable poem always.
    It’s going to be printed out and framed on the wall. 

    With tremendous gratitude …


    Sistah Cath

  • 2 George Walker // Nov 1, 2019 at 1:24 PM

    I like this. A LOT! Great work.

  • 3 Brad Clough // Nov 2, 2019 at 10:21 AM

    Another inspired gem from your pen, Brian. You do so much to keep not just recognition but celebration of the Beats alive, and are FURTHURING the tradition in your own style as well!
    I hope I get a chance to hear these odes live and aloud one day. Staying tuned in!

  • 4 Thom Pallozola // Nov 2, 2019 at 11:42 AM

    I love you can start anywhere and go in any direction and it still makes it!

  • 5 Scott Moore // Nov 2, 2019 at 12:02 PM

    Yes … great lyrics … now maybe a melody?

  • 6 Brian // Nov 2, 2019 at 12:09 PM

    Funny, Scott — I’m right in the middle of an email exchange with my songwriting partner who just wrote me back saying it indeed has “a very sing-song rhythm” . . . so we may be going down that path.

  • 7 Alfred Enuman // Nov 2, 2019 at 2:19 PM

    Wow Brian this is truly a beautiful dedication to Neal and what transpired. How befitting it will be a song.

  • 8 Cynthia Johnston // Nov 2, 2019 at 3:39 PM


  • 9 Gubba // Nov 2, 2019 at 6:07 PM

    Whenever Linda Breen sees an image of Neal, such as in the stage lighting provided by Mike Buck, she gets a wistful smile and says “Look, it’s Cassady!”
    Linda is one of a handful of people I know who actually knew the man …
    …so here are some lines that jumped from my brain on reading this fabulous ode …
    I respectfully add them as comment —

    The light he gave
    still has a place
    in Anonymous’ eyes
    when she sees his face.

  • 10 Shaggy // Nov 2, 2019 at 9:13 PM

    This is great. A journey like the man. Well done!

  • 11 Jim Nystrom // Nov 2, 2019 at 11:31 PM

    Wonderful. I do hear the song. Also thinking a Broadside with pictures would have sale appeal. Regardless, a major piece. Congrats. Keep on rockin & writing. Inspiring to many. Thanx for (more than) fanning the eternal flame.

  • 12 Philippo LoGrande // Nov 3, 2019 at 11:13 AM

    Dancing the fandango, all the way to go, all the way to go.

  • 13 Brian Humniski // Nov 3, 2019 at 3:37 PM

    You have captured the spirit of Neal like no other.

  • 14 Ken Bole // Nov 4, 2019 at 11:56 AM

    Well done, Brian! You nailed it!

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