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Allen Ginsberg: Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake

Allen Ginsberg, vocals. Arthur Russell, cello. Jon Meyer, flute. Jon Sholle, guitar, & others
Item #: D79374
Format: CD
Pages/Publication Date: 46 / 2017
Publisher: Omnivore Recordings
ISBN: 816651013876
Currently Unavailable

In 1948, Allen Ginsberg was at his East Harlem apartment when he had a mystical vision of William Blake appearing to him, reciting poetry; thus began a lifelong engagement with the British poet's works. Beginning in 1969, Ginsberg began setting Blake's poetry to music in a style that might be termed experimental folk, sharing vocals with Peter Orlovsky and backed by such musicians as drummer Elvin Jones, pianist Bob Dorough, and avant-garde cellist Arthur Russell. Unpretentious and haunting, Ginsberg's versions of "The Sick Rose," "Nurse's Song," and "The Chimney-Sweeper" add a new dimension to these familiar poems. Long out of print, this remastered two-disc set collects all of Ginsberg's original recordings plus alternate takes, and three of his Tibetan mantras with a Buddhist chorus. The enclosed booklet includes photos and recounts the history of these unique recording sessions.

"Ginsberg's singing is just like Blake's poetry: crude, human, touching, and superb. Tricky melodies and virtuoso singing would ruin the material. Instead, Ginsberg and his friends have accomplished a seeming impossibility: they have elevated it. A collaboration of genius."—Robert Christgau


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