Sonic Youth (and Allen Ginsberg)

Sonic Youth‘s “Hits of Sunshine (for Allen Ginsberg)” on the 1998 album, A Thousand Leaves, is a stand-out track and one we can’t believe we haven’t spotlighted before. Allen and the band became close friends and performed together on several occasions towards the end of his life.

Here’s transcriptions from Thurston Moore & Lee Renaldo’s brief recollections (from AllenGinsbergOM, the wonderful Jerry Aronson Ginsberg You Tube Channel) [the videos that were originally posted here are no longer available]

Thurston (on learning of Allen’s death): “It was.. the saddest thing was.. that you weren’t going to be able to hang out with him, that none of us were going to be able to hang out with him, in the flesh anymore, but at the same time it was.. there was.. something, I thought, very joyful, in a very bitter-sweet way, of him passing on, because it was like.. this.. he was such a great lover of cosmic experience that he actually got to experience something that is cosmic.. I kind of felt happy for him, in a way. And he had such a wonderful, beautiful long life, you know.”

Lee (recollecting Allen): “He was a very open person, you know. He was not a person you’d think of as having too many deep dark secrets, his life was out there on his shirt-sleeves, and I think that’s an inspiration to us all, the way in which he lived right up into the last hours of his life, and.. he was a beautiful man and we miss him dearly.”

“today/I /said goodbye/to my conflicted goddess/ her lush eyes/show surprise/ at how we could gather knowledge…” (from “Hits of Sunshine”)

Thurston’s quirky little poem “this is allen ginsberg” may be read here.

Here’s Allen photographing Lee reading Kerouac at the 1994 NYU Beat Generation Conference (photo by our good friend, Gordon Ball).


“..Blues, Jazz,Bebop, Rocknroll? Where did it get countercultural?/ What about Elvis’ Pelvis? Sonic Youth dumbed, [Kurt] Cobain‘s screams banished from Nirvana?”

(from (Allen Ginsberg’s) “Newt Gingrich Declares War on “McGovernik Counterculture”” (published, posthumusly, in 1999, but, written January 1995). The full text for that poem is available in Death and Fame.

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