Beat Avenue is 60-year-old Eric Andersen's most ambitious album, a 90-minute tour de force that encapsulates his musical and lyrical concerns over a lifetime. The music is often-dense rock dominated by a rhythm section led by guitarist Eric Bazilian of the Hooters. Equally dense is Andersen's highly poetic versifying, which he sings in his gruff baritone. Andersen is world-weary in these songs, roaming the globe haunted by the past and fearful of the future. He confesses to a reckless youth, but acknowledges that he can no longer afford such license. "What once was Charles Bukowski," he sings in "Before Everything Changed," referring to the free-living beat poet, "is now Emily Dickinson." The ballads and love songs "Song of You and Me," "Shape of a Broken Heart," "Under the Shadows," and "Still Looking for You" are rendered tenderly, but they are also full of regret and loss, past-tense reflections that recount memories of love long gone. The first disc of Beat Avenue is complete and formidable unto itself, but there is a second CD consisting of two lengthy songs. The title track, running more than 26 minutes, is a beat poem with jazzy accompaniment by Robert Aaron in which Andersen recalls a poetry reading he attended as a 20-year-old on the day President Kennedy was assassinated.