Allen Ginsberg and jazz drummer Jerry Granelli team up this weekend on a vintage recording made in 1981 at Naropa
The recording begins with (as warm up) two improvisations on Hart Crane and William Blake
[Hart Crane (1899-1932)]
AG: We’ll improvise one – “The Hurricane” by Hart Crane – a dochmiac meter – bom bom ba-da-da bom bom ba-da-da bom bom-ba-da bom ba-da-da– bom-ba-da-da bom-bom (that’s the basic rhythm, hurricane rhythm) – (“Lo, Lord, thou ridest!/ Lord, Lord, thy swifting heart”….”Thou ridest to the door, Lord!/Thou bidest wall nor floor, Lord!”) – Well, we were making it up as we went along…Okay, what’s next? – “Tyger, Tyger” – So I’ll read that and Jerry will.. I’ll read it acapella, then Jerry will take off on a drum solo with the trochaic meters with his own back-beats, sub-divisions, and then I’ll come back in with te vocal – (“Tyger, Tyger, burning bright ..”… “What immortal hand or eye,/Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?”)
[At approximately seven minutes in, Jerry Granelli introduces the evening]
This is followed (at eighteen-and-three-quarters in) by an entirely spontaneous improvisation – “Shine Shave Haircut – Six Bits”
AG: .… Well, I think we start with “the Mumbles”, yeah (to Jerry Granelli) You want to say what “the Mumbles” is?
JG: Oh we can talk about that
laying the blues (AG: You gonna tell ’em?, shall I tell em?)
(AG and JG both here, in the introduction and in the delivery of the song, purposely mumble)
JG: The old blues singers used to do a thing called “mumbles”..mumbles..which was basically designed so no one could understand what they were saying (AG: glub glub glub glub) say all kind of obscene things about (AG: My ass!) …whoever you chose, mostly the club-owner, probably, and still in the form of the blues, so they would say….
[Allen and Jerry, improvising, proceed to perform “The Mumbles” (drug and meditation references – “have a stick of samatha”..
and, starting at approximately thirty-five-and-a-quarter minutes in:
“O Mama, what, did you go away?/ O Papa, where’s your face today?/ Father Guru, what did Mother say?/ Ah brother, how’s your little lover?/Ah sister, how’s your aging mister?/ Ah nephew, how’s your meat-bone now?”/ “Hey Aunty, you still there in your panties?/ Uncle Abe, you still play with your fancy?/ Aunt Rose, how’s your worm man, Sam? – Ah Honey,I hope you got lots of money/ Ah Aunt Clara, how’s your dead tempter, Harry? /Ah Eugene, when you last saw cousin Joey?/ Was he sad? his sweet heart had gone bad?/ heavy weight? was it too much he ate?/ Dear Doctor/ I’m willing to cooperate./ Connie dear, have no fear, your children grew up very near/ A Church – a place to meditate/ A Methodist choir no one could hate/ O Truth, around us/ white as the sky/ O Love, that will not leave us with a lie/ O World, we come back to/only to die./ O Honesty, who but ourselves are betrayed/ When we rot in a dream in silk pomp foolery/ Virginity, what took you so long to get laid? / O Sex, gimme all you can spare/ O Love, try me out for what you’d never dare/ O Ass, I’m thankful I still got my share.”
“A Filthy Waste” – Government spends your tax dollars on obscene poetry. Your tax dollars are supporting obscene poetry. The National Endowment for the Arts has handed over ten thousand dollars of your tax money to help finance a poet whose main previous work was a book of obscenities and unintelligible gibberish, gibberish, gibberish, gibberish. “It’s a disgrace”, charges Minerva Cannon, an internationally known poet and a member of the Poetry Society of America, “It’s a slap in he face to all true poets that this man should get ten grand for such filth. And, a New York poetry professor, who asked not to be identified, fumed, “It makes me sick when I see garbage like this being rewarded by our government. You don’t give ten thousand dollars to someone to write this kind of junk. Any six year old… could have probably done that and probably done it a great deal better. The grant was awarded to poet Peter Orlovsky on the basis of his book of poems filled with obscene descriptions and useless babblings. The fact that the title of the book cannot even be published in a decent newspaper is because the language is foul – Quote – The book Orlovsky wrote is just gibberish and absolute garbage.” said the Professor, said the Professor, said the Professor, absolute garbage, said the Professor, absolute garbage said the Professor said the Professor. Added Cannon added Cannon, I think, I think, I think it’s,
I think it’s, I think it’s, I think it’s denigrating, I think its denigrating to poetry. I think it’s denigrating to poetry. Young poets seeing this will think all they have to do is write a string of filth, all they have to do is write a string of filth, all they have to do is write a string of filth they can think of, all the filth, all the filth they can think of, and they’ll get ten thousand dollars from the government, and they’ll get ten thousand dollars from the government, and they’ll get ten thousand dollars from the government. If it comes to that we can all hide our heads in the ground and not write another line except four letter words four letter words”. And Representative Larry McDonald, Democrat of Georgia, Democrat of Georgia, protested, “It’s a disgrace to the nation”, it’s a disgrace to the nation, it’s a disgrace to the nation, a disgrace to the nation , the nation, a disgrace, a..
JG: Allen, tell them what newspaper that’s from
AG: Oh – The National Enquirer, February 24, 1981
[At approximately forty-three-and-a-half minutes in, the program continues ]
AG to JG): Will you take a solo? What do you want to do? Want to take an intermission? Raise your hands – [ a little show of hands] – Okay- the next will be Jerry Granelli on percussion, solo
[ Granelli’s percussion solo lasts from approximately forty-four-and-three-quarter minutes in until fifty-one-and-three-quarter minutes in]
– Pretty good! – “Atlantis” next
[Allen concludes with “A more lengthy new poem .. we begin with (Capitol Air) – (“I don’t like the government where I live/I don’t like dictatorship of the Rich”…”Breathe together with an ordinary mind/Armed with Humor Feed & Enlighten Woe Mankind” )