I was born on the wrong side of the railroad track
Like Ginsberg, Corso and Kerouac
Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and Jack Kerouac were all figures of the 1950s Beat Generation, which was a cultural phenomenon (many refer to it as a "movement," but it lacked the conscious direction or organizational drive requisite for that title) that heavily influenced the 1960s counterculture in general and Bob Dylan in specific. It was characterized primarily by its literature, but it spilled out into the popular consciousness as well with its focus on a wandering Zen master lifestyle and resistance to traditional American values.
Ginsberg and Dylan were friends. Dylan also wrote a blurb for Ginsberg's book of collected poetry. There's footage of them visiting Kerouac's grave
. Ginsberg was one of the most celebrated poets of his time. His poem Howl
was revolutionary in form and content. It was taken to court for obscenity and, following a trial in 1957, became a landmark in American free speech. The courts decided that it did, indeed, have social merit, despite its graphic sexual imagery.
Kerouac is the most prominent member of that generation. His novel On the Road
is one of the most impactful books in American literature, with a style of conversational, rolling prose and a celebration of rootlessness and even lawlessness that hadn't been seen at the time in popular American letters.
Corso is an interesting addition to the list because his work never achieved the prominence of Ginsberg's poetry or Kerouac's prose. He had a poem in 1958 titled Bomb
about the atomic bomb that created a lot of controversy and conversation at the time, though it hasn't been nearly as remembered as Kerouac's novels or Ginsberg's poem Howl
In the book Dylan in America
, Dylan recounts getting to New York at the tail end of the Beats' era. In discussing names, he specifically mentions Ginsberg, Kerouac, and Corso (as well as poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti).