Samstag, 24. September 2016

Allen Ginsberg - First Blues - Rags, Ballads And Harmonium Songs (1981, vinyl rip)

The greatest poet of the Beat movement and one of the most renowned American writers of the 20th century, Allen Ginsberg transcended literary and intellectual barriers to exert a profound influence on the culture at large.

On this LP, recorded in the mid-1970s, Ginsberg accompanies himself on his small Benares hand-pumped harmonium (though on some of these performances, Ginsberg hums and grunts "riffs" that were part of a bigger band arrangement). Eight pieces, including the ten minute opuses "4 AM Blues" and "Prayer Blues." There's a really weird, dark sound to the record - as Ginsberg plays harmonium and sings/speaks his own words - older themes from the 60s and 70s, recast here with almost a new sense of blues and frustration. The approach is quite unique, and almost features a Ginsberg cowed a bit by the changes of time, but still with the same sense of wit and clarity he brought to his work a few decades back. Titles include "CIA Dope Calypso", "Put Down Your Cigarette Rag", "Come Back Christmas", "Bus Ride Ballad Road To Suva", "Prayer Blues", and "Dope Fiend Blues".

The liner notes include an introductory note by Ann Charters, who produced the project, an intro by Ginsberg himself, and lyrics and musical scores to several of the pieces, including "CIA Dope Calypso."

Ginsberg's charm as a songwriter is the same one he holds as a poet: he was a fearless queer dharma lion who was so utterly and completely honest. With the Heart Sutra as his creed, he spoke, read, sang, improvised, protested, and lived as one so in the moment and brutally honest with himself that he made one either want to join him in present fearless nearness or to flee from him as fast as one could travel.

Allen Ginsberg - First Blues (1981, vinyl rip)
(192 kbps, full cover art included)

6 Kommentare:

Feilimid O'Broin hat gesagt…
Dieser Kommentar wurde vom Autor entfernt.
Feilimid O'Broin hat gesagt…

I was fortunate enough to see Ginsberg read in a small club in Cambridge, Massachusetts in early 1996, a year before his death. He was no longer the full-bearded Beat lion of the sixties and seventies but was instead a elderly man who resembled a professor emeritus of a university. His former lover Peter Orlovsky also read that night. Ginsberg's "performance" primarily consisted of songs of and odes to death with little talk between each piece. No doubt death preoccupied him after he was diagnosed with cancer and hepatitis. He played his harmonium as accompaniment to his songs and chants. He seemed to be intensely introspective and performing for himself as much as he performed for those of us in the audience. On the other hand, Orlovsky enthusiastically read his read his scatological and often inchoate verse and appeared to me to be a poetic dinosaur echoing another era when his performance would have been considered daring and shocking.

After his performance, Ginsberg was immediately surrounded by a coterie of Cambridge residents whom he apparently already knew. I approached him for an autograph of one of his books and had hoped to speak briefly with him but he was not receptive to speaking with strangers that night. Introspection, a sense of one's mortality, a need to be with the familiar, and the need to vocalize his devotion to Buddhist beliefs that would extend his life beyond his death were the themes of the night and the generous, outgoing, and charming man about whom I had read was overshadowed by an ill elderly man worried about his health. He had been in Cambridge many, many times and obviously had close friends there. He did not speak with me and, instead, quickly signed his name and the date and immediately turned to his friends. Given the cost of the ticket to see him, I suppose I could complain about his abruptness but I won't. He was an ill man making a valiant attempt to communicate his intimate thoughts and fears that evening and I am glad that I saw him even if he was no longer the force he was when he was younger and healthier . Within a year he would be dead and, although I am not religious, I hope he found in death the contentment, inner peace, and continuation of existence enunciated in Buddhist teachings, some of which he sang when I saw him.

Feilimid O'Broin hat gesagt…

I have read and own many of Ginsberg's collections, and still remember how I felt when I read "Howl" as a young teenager. I recognize his genius and influence over at least two generations. Notwithstanding, I believe that Gregory Corso was a better, albeit a more traditional, poet. Reasonable people can disagree and it is a pleasant issue to debate because Ginsberg and Corso were immensely talented.

Corso, Ginsberg, and Kerouac, a native of my home state, are all gone now. DiPrima and other Beats began living more ordinary lives and if they are alive now, they are elderly and their Beat years are memories. Still, as a young man, I was influenced tremendously by them and the existentialist writers. For that matter, I still am. Of course, although I greatly admire his writing, Kerouac became a reactionary, apolitical, embittered drunk hunkered down in his mother's home until his body gave out at age 49. Worse, he refused to acknowledge that he was his daughter Jan's father even though she looked so much like him that his friends and family had no doubts that he was her father. He was a seriously flawed hero of my youth. Alternatively, Ginsberg, Corso, and other Beats did not compromise or alter their beliefs and principles. At a minimum, one has to concede that they were prescient in contesting the United States' revisionist and romanticized view of its history. They agonized and spoke out against empire. weapons of mass destruction, Americans' love of war and proxy wars, and the inclination towards fascism that permeates the American Right. I am grateful for Ann Charters to whom you refer above and who has worked diligently to preserve Beat culture and literature.

Feilimid O'Broin hat gesagt…

I am also immensely grateful that this blog has survived Google’s latest purge as it seeks to spinelessly appease the corporate music industry. I download all everything that you post and frustrated, although happily, that there are so many great posts that by the time I listen to them, it is too late to comment. I appreciate more than you know your efforts to keep Dave Van Ronk, Barbara Dane, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Nina Simone, and other artists who acted honorably as they contested the United State’s hegemony and continuous war, whether direct or indirect through proxies. So many of them were voices that I heard in my youth and that were part of my political awakening and growth.

I am also grateful that you present so many artists from the former GDR. They dispel the propaganda of my youth that contended that residents of communist states were mindless, soulless automatons whose artistic voices were crushed by the atheistic, totalitarian state. I am no fan of Soviet-style communism which was actually state capitalism and grossly distorted Marx’s prescriptions for a better society. However, I note with irony that “The
Lives Of Others” was regarded here as an important film documenting the perfidy and paranoia of the former east German government at a time when our government was monitoring the communications of its citizens. I now live ten miles from NSA headquarters and vividly remember the Church committee hearings that documented and made us aware of the efforts by our law enforcement agencies to infiltrate and destroy organizations that sought political and economic change. For that matter, in 2014 we Americans were able to watch the militaristic and fascist reaction to peaceful protest in Ferguson. Missouri. The ongoing reactionary effort to maintain “whiteness” as an inherent entitlement and

Feilimid O'Broin hat gesagt…

and political construct that exerts power over us and regards Americans of color as the other is predictable, given President Obama’s election, but it is also frightening because our consolidated news media that is obsessed with sensationalism gives ample time to reactionary politicians and other voices of oppression. The perspective of the artists whom you present on your blog are vitally necessary at this time. In brief, I am grateful beyond words for your efforts. As a whole, your blog is a critical voice in a dreamy time of turmoil and inspires hope because you cover those who came before us and fought for change.

I apologized for the verbosity in my attempt to articulate why this blog is so important to me but I notice the lack of comments to so many posts and think expression of thanks is warranted and overdue. The best part of the blog for me is that it allows me to maintain my passive German and, given my lack of funds to travel to Germany, allows me to familiarize myself with so many important voices. I am familiar with Brecht’s and Weill’s writing and those writers covered in a German major curriculum in this country, but you introduce us to so much more. I hope that you never lose the enthusiasm and dedication evident in each post and continue this blog for a long time.

zero hat gesagt…

Wow, thanks a lot for sharing your interesting memories and thoughts with us. And - of course - for your uplifting comment concerning this blog. All the best to you!

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