Philip Glass’s birthday today – continuing from yesterday, a Philip Glass weekend.
PG: “I had met Allen Ginsberg many times after I returned from Paris and India in 1967. He, of course was close to William Burroughs, whom I knew from the Chappaqua film work when I was assisting Ravi Shankar. We had shared the stage quite a few times at music-poetry events and at the Nova Convention in 1979 in New York City, a celebration of Burroughs’ work. But we didn’t do any work together until 1988. It then happened that a theater group that emerged from the Vietnam Veterans Against the War was organizing a fundraising event that had, as its major event, an evening at the Shubert Theater on Broadway. Tom Bird from the theater company called me and asked if I would participate. I agreed but really had no idea what I would do.
A few days later I was in the St. Mark’s Bookshop and Allen happened to be there, in the poetry section. I was inspired to ask him if he would perform at the event. He immediately accepted. I then asked if we could perform together, using a poem of his and new music which I would compose. In a flash, he picked up a copy of his Collected Poems off the shelf, deftly opened to the section, “The Fall of America”, and in a few seconds his fingers pointed to the lines, “I’m an old man now”, from “Wichita Vortex Sutra”. I went home and, starting with that line, in a few days had composed the music, stopping after the line, “..stop for tea and gas”. We only had a few weeks before the Shubert performance and we rehearsed at my house, where I had the piano. This, our first collaboration, came together quickly.After that we began to see each other often, and since we lived not far from each other in the East Village, our regular visits were no problem.”
Here’s Philip and Patti Smith celebrating Allen together