In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury describes a dystopian society that has completely eliminated books, inspirations for free thought. Newspapers, films, and albums have also been shunned. Guilty pleasure television has taken over as the preferred recreational activity. After a life-altering incident, the protagonist, Guy Montag, realizes that something worth experiencing must lie inside books, and he begins a quest to discover the magic that has long been outlawed.
Faber, Montag’s partner in crime, tells him of that magic, “Most of us can’t rush around, talk to everyone, know all the cities of the world, we haven’t the time, money, or that many friends. The things you’re looking for, Montag, are in the world, but the only way the average chap will ever see ninety-nine percent of them is in a book.”
California singer-songwriter, Jacob Golden, encapsulates the power and enchantment that Montag is sure must permeate from the great literature of the world. Golden, no doubt, would have written one of those old phonograph albums Faber lovingly equates to any book that enables readers to see the world. Golden unravels parts of life that would normally remain unexposed, rendering trips to open and honest places.
Golden’s lyrics are nothing short of poetry: intricate and beautifully layered. They are fundamental enough to stand alone, consequential enough to transcend time like the books that fill our literary canon today; the music is an obvious bonus. His figurative language is an English teacher’s dream. In “I’m Your Man,” Golden uses metaphors to compare himself to a microphone, a tambourine, a record sleeve. He breathes existence into the inanimate and lifeless with personification. Hyperbole uniquely drives home his points.
Often compared to gloomy artists like Jeff Buckley and Elliott Smith, Golden seems haunted by the answers he lacks. Like Faber in Fahrenheit 451, Golden wonders what has happened to the vital artists of our time. In “Out Come the Wolves,” he sings that our great American idols are now hunted and “radio has lost that loving feeling.”
Ironically, although he doesn’t show up on guilty pleasure television or dying radio, Golden is in fact one of those artists who contributes interlocking threads to society’s never ending creative tapestry. You might have to search a little harder for him, but he’s there to provide the Montags of the world some of the missing pieces that a lack of time, money, and friends hinder us from finding out firsthand.