Seth Rogovoy’s mischievously-titled review of Last Word on First Blues, (the new Allen Ginsberg 3-cd box-set) in the Jewish Daily Forward
“Let’s start right from the beginning by getting this out of the way: Allen Ginsberg was no Bob Dylan, But Bob Dylan is no Allen Ginsberg either. However, the funny thing is that the two of them, each top in his chosen field, seem to have aspirations to be the other..”
“Ginsberg, as it turns out, had a pretty great voice, a deep, booming baritone, almost always in tune, an expressive instrument honed by years of giving poetry readings as well as listening to all the greats, especially Ray Charles to whom Ginsberg often paid tribute, and, of course, Bob Dylan (for better or worse). Ginsberg’s musical instincts were sound, he knew how to play harmonium and he wisely surrounded himself with professional musicians whenever he could..”
Read more of Rogovoy’s review/observations – here
“But I’m of the school of the instinctive. I once worked with Allen Ginsberg and Allen always used to say, ‘First thought, best thought.‘ And then he would edit everything. But I think the theory is good. ‘First thought, best thought.’ It doesn’t always work, but as a general idea I will try and do that and sometimes I come out with a puzzling set of words that I have no idea what I mean, and yet I’ve got to kind of make sense of it and follow the trail.”
Still on the subject of Allen and his musical instincts – Well, as Last Word on First Blues amply shows, his musical choices were always electic and various – Dylan, Ray Charles, but also the blues, mantras, chants, calypsos, country n’ western, punk, post-punk – and plenty more -including (but, of course!) classic klezmer music!
Here’s a great video that’s just surfaced of Allen in Berlin in 1993, singing and playing alongside and accompanied by The Klezmatics
(he performs “Everybody Sing”, “Fifth Internationale“, “Sickness Blues“, “CIA Dope Calypso“, and “Research“)
June 16 (yesterday) was the (long-anticipated) auction of the Neal Cassady-Jack Kerouac Joan Anderson letter at Christies. Something of a shocker there – it didn’t sell!
Bidding didn’t reach the $400,000 to $600,000 estimated price,
Earlier, several Walt Whitman items did meet their estimated figures.
This autograph manuscript, comprising a working draft of the poem “Give Me The Splendid Silent Sun” with the poet’s emendations to four lines (and on the verso, “a manuscript fragment of a prose work on equality and the American government”), estimated sales price $10-15,000, went for $16,250
Opening next week in Paris and up all of summer (more on anon) – the Pompidou Beat Generation show