More Vintage Gregory Corso (culled from Michael Minzer/Hal Willner’s two Corso recordings – Die On Me and Lieders) – (We’ve already featured Marianne Faithfull, in collaboration with Gregory, a week or so back).
Studs Terkel :[in media res] … no, no, but you couldn’t see..
GC: I want to see Al Capone‘s old heritage. I really dig him, you know. I pay homage to him. I mean..
ST: Once upon a time there was an evangelist here named Gypsy Smith who sought to save Chicago by parading down Chicago’s red light district years ago…
GC: Oh but nothing like that, nothing ostentatious like that, no.
ST: …who would parade down naked? No, but, on the subject of nakedness, we’ll come to that as we go along – let’s dig further. Allen started, but let Gregory.. and Peter..
GC: Ask me a question, see how I answer, don’t make me embarrassed, just ask me a question..
ST: Alright, the question of what is your outlook, what is your philosophy? – do you feel defeated?, coming to the matter of.. getting to the label of.. “Beat” itself.
ST: What’s there beyond God?
GC: Ah, that’s it! – and I’m gonna find it.
ST: You wanna find it?
GC: Yes. I’m gonna have it.
ST: but what, what..?
GC: ..and it’s “Hair”! – I just wrote the poem, “Hair”. You wanna hear “Hair”?
AG: Why don’t we hear poetry?
GC: Poetry, that’s the thing
ST: Alright. I know you’ve got some poems for the occasion. (So), Gregory Corso. who wrote Gasoline and Other Poems, will now read “Hair”.
AG: In the cadence of his style [laughter]
Gregory reads (in its entirety) his poem, “Hair” – “My beautiful hair is dead/ Now I’m the rawhead…”…”Veronica Lake Truman Capote Ish Kabibble Harpo Marx Messiahs Pagininis/ Bohemians Hawaiians poodles” –
ST: I suppose you imagine that..Yul Brynner‘s a pretty fortunate man
GC: I actually was gonna say “Yul Brynner’s Lament”, but I think he’s ephemeral, short-lived..
ST: I see
GC: …so I just called it “Hair”. Hair will always remain.
ST: What would you say then. You’d say then that the outlook of the poem is “things are rough all over”.
GC: No, I think that things are so beautiful and I do have lovely hair, I’m not complaining (about any soul) because I’m not bald, right?
AG: He’s not bald
GC: …and I do have nice hair, no no, in a sense, right.. no, so therefore, this is the whole thing that you’re trying to get at, almost, with “the Beat Generation”..
ST: This would not be the Dylan Thomas school of poetry..
GC: No! Oh God…
AG: Actually, it’s more like Dylan Thomas than you…,
AG: It’s more like Dylan Thomas than you would think.
ST: Well, go ahead Allen.
AG: Well think of all the mad images in that, that’s like Dylan Thomas – “I see the angels washing their oceans of hair” is something that Thomas would have..smiled at.
ST: Yeah, but he might say it a bit differently, though
GC: No, but I see the connection with him about “Beat”, Allen – getting as a subject – that this has nothing to do with social standings at all, but a young person who was in the society, talking about what? hair? fried shoes? anything that is beautiful and free.
ST: Question, question. Anybody can answer it. Do you believe you represent the young generation of poets today?
GC & AG : No, no, no, no, we’re pariahs!
And here’s Gregory and Allen in 1994 in Santa Monica, California on KCRW on the Liza Richardson show
Liza Richardson: Is there a new young, very young poet that you’ve met recently?
GC: Oh we made this so cute. He, of course, Allen..being..so loving young boys and all that, would say yeah – but then again no.
AG: My taste has always been pretty good,
GC: Well it was with Jonathan [sic], yeah.
AG: With you, I ran into you and thought of you as a poet.
GC: Yeah – but you didn’t see me as I had the poetry there.
AG: No, I didn’t say I made you, I said that I recognized that you were a poet. She’s asking if there’s anyone I dig as a young poet. Actually, there’s another young poet now, eighteen years old, I ran into at Naropa, who blew my mind he was so good
LR: Oh what was his name?
AG: Geoffrey Manaugh – M-A-N-A-U-G-H – very self-possessed, cute, amazing mind, and he’s got some poems that blew my mind when I read them in a little pamphlet.
GC (to AG) : Were you after his ass?
GC: Well, when I met you, you were looking at me, because I was a handsome young wop out of prison, you wanted my ass, you didn’t know I had the poetry
AG: No, I knew you had poetry before…
GC: No you didn’t. You had me at the bar, the dyke bar, the Pony Stable.
AG: And you showed me a poem, which said..
AG: ..which began..”The stone world came to me and said life gives you.. flesh..gives you one hour’s leave..”
AG: And that was even before we began discussing anything to do with love or relationships…
GC: That’s what I said
AG: …so I saw you as poet before I saw you as ass!
GC: But, wait a minute, I didn’t come up to you to show you a poem, you came to me
AG: No, I sat down next to you because you were sitting there with a pile of poems in front of you. You were looking at some poems and.. and I came over and said “Are you a poet?”
GC: Alright, now this I ought to know in life. In this case, I want the truth, Allen, I want the truth now Allen.
AG: Yes. Sure.
GC: Were you after my ass?, or were you..
GC: Aw, man!
AG: Why not?
GC: Because it always confused me to say that this guy says that… that you always say that I’m a better poet than you
GC: And so I’m…
AG: And I’m not after your ass anymore, so I’m as free when I’m saying that
GC: Oh, eh, Allen, my tired old ass!
AG: My tired old dong!
GC: …give me a break!..I love you..
AG: But you really were cute when you were twenty years old, I must say. You had a little mop of black hair – (to LR) and he’d just come out of jail and was spunky – and he wrote like an angel – that’s what really does it, the spiritual thing
GC: ..and got (William) Burroughs jealous! Burroughs had just come out of the jungle withyage, and he loved Allen, man, and he’s chopping it with a machete this yage, and he sees me sitting there – remember that?
Here’s (from 1959, with Minzer/Willner updating, soundscaping) his classic “Bomb” (Gregory looks back on his young self at the end of this recording)
Here’s “Army” (a live recording – the tape picks up Gregory in media res)
…. (a) good thing I can pronounce it correctly So bear with me, it’ll all be spontaneous on the pronunciation… This is called “Army”. I’ve never been in the army, but when I was in Paris I saw all the boys who were on a G.I. bill and heard all their stories and see how thy have changed by going through that regimentation, and I think I went with tears into my room writing this, never participating [audience laughter] – Yeah, that’s almost laughable, isn’t it, damn it, it’s all laughable, huh? – It’s called “Army”..oh, what they didn’t tell me, what I saw at West Point, there’s a gigantic statue of (General) Patton, and here you have all these young angels going to school, (and) you have this big statue of this man with two guns on his side, and that impressed me very much. I never forgot about that statue. So I think I pick very much on this man – but with love, with love – it’s all necessary – “Thrice, I’ve seen the two-gunned ghost of Patton/ waxing wars in the back room…”
and one more (with the Minzer/Willner overlay) from the same year, “Ode to Coit Tower” (from a Library of Congress recording)