Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Allen Ginsberg

"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness..."
--Allen Ginsberg 'Howl & Other Poems (1956)

Had he still been alive, Allen Ginsberg would have been 82 years old on 3rd Of June this year, he was one of the greatest poets of the beat generation and a leading light in the....ah, you know who he is.

The first song below features Ginsberg and his pal Bob Dylan. Here is the story in Allen Ginsberg's own words:

Vomit Express: "These 1971 sessions came about because Dylan had come to hear a poetry reading at NYU's Loeb Auditorium, standing in the back of the crowded hall with David Amram. We were on stage with a gang of musician friends, and Peter improvised, singing, “You shouldn't write poetry down but carol it in the air, because to use paper you have to cut down trees.” I picked up on that, and we spent a half an hour making up tuneful words on the spot. I didn't know 12-bar blues, it was just a free-form rhyming extravaganza. We packed up, said goodbye to the musicians, thanked them and gave them a little money, went home, and then the phone rang. It was Dylan asking, “Do you always improvise like that?” And I said, “Not always, but I can. I used to do that with Kerouac under the Brooklyn Bridge all the time.”

He came to our apartment with Amram and a guitar, we began inventing something about “Vomit Express,” jamming for quite awhile, but didn't finish it. He said, “Oh, we ought to get together in a studio and do it,” then showed me the three-chord blues pattern on my pump organ. A week later in the studio Dylan actually did the arrangement, told people when to do choruses and when to take breaks, and suggested the musicians cut a few endings on their own to be spliced in.

“Vomit Express” was a phrase I got from my friend Lucien Carr, who talked about going to Puerto Rico, went often, and we were planning to take an overnight plane a couple of weeks later, my first trip there. He spoke of it as the “vomit express” – poor people flying at night for cheap fares, not used to airplanes, throwing up airsick".

The second is a song called 'See you Later, Allen Ginsberg' recorded by Dylan and The Band and can be found on the much bootlegged, but quite indispensable Basement Tapes.

MP3: Allen Ginsberg with Bob Dylan - Vomit Express
MP3: Bob Dylan & The Band - See you Later, Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg on Myspace
The Basement Tapes on Myspace
Support The Artist. Buy. Buy. Buy.

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