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Holden Back The Years

Stuart Bailie | 10:53 UK time, Sunday, 31 January 2010

Where might rock and roll be without Catcher In The Rye and JD Salinger? We wouldn't have a band called Rollerskate Skinny for starters. We would have to live without a song called 'William Holden Caulfied' by Too Much Joy. Or indeed 'Catcher In The Rye' by Guns 'N Roses. We wouldnt have a label called Caulfield Records and arguably, John Lennon would still be alive.

JD Salinger wrote tense little stories that young people could relate to. Stuff about the relentless compromises of the adult world. Narratives about peer pressure, pretence and phoney constructs. Which is why alternative music has found the author so becoming. Blur were originally called Seymour after one of his famous characters. The Cure recorded a song called 'Bananafishbones' while Green Day delivered 'Who Wrote Holden Caulfield'. Meantime Richey from the Manic Street Preachers found the idea of artistic withdrawal very appealing and namechecked Salinger a few times. Who knows, the fella may even have made the perfect disappearance.

I've read all the stories and followed the trail though the slightly bonkers Ian Hamilton book, revealing some of the author's secret ways and apparent paranoia. Still, like many people, I was moved by the books as a teenager and I'm mortified to remember that around 1980, I was calling people "My Prince" as a homage. Last summer though, a chance encounter with 'For Esmee With Love And Squalour' was less resonant. I guess he's the kind of writer you grow out of. But fondly, mind.


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