OR: Could you give some facts about Woodstock, what happened?..
AG: No.. I’m continuing the matter of commerce. I’m talking about commerce in the record industry. The next thing I did was get a scholarship to make my own album in (19)81. And then (John) Hammond picked up all the material from (19)75 to (19)81 and the three cuts from the Dylan album (Allen’s Bob Dylan collaboration) and formed his own label, which immediately went bankrupt! (laughter)…so they raised more money and so all that material will come out…is out now, I think, or will come out in two weeks on his label (which is a small label, but because of a trick of fate distributed by Columbia). But it isn’t out yet and it has been waiting for two years. (but it did, First Blues, indeed, finally appear)
So the next thing. did was work with some garage bands in Denver and we’ve put out our own single, of “Birdbrain”, as a rock ‘n’ roll song. And then, before I left, I went into a studio, which cost ten dollars an hour, with Hammond and did some more work. And the next thing I did was in Amsterdam, (this past) New Years’, a recording of “September on Jessore Road” with a string quartet, that Steven (Taylor) set, which was paid for by the Dutch government as part of a Dutch-American poetry album. So, the consequences – the taking “Birdbrain” and sending it out to a hundred college radio stations and selling three thousand copies of it, (all sold before the master wore out).. it got all over America and it was heard very clearly, like, in Harvard, or in Washington D.C. (all the Washington bureaucrats’ kids play it or hear it on the radio).
So it penetrates through anyway, no matter what the commercial arrangement. And if you just sing it alone in an alley it will penetrate, that’s what I think. The money part obviously is exploitative, and they’re after the money so they will merchandize whatever gross material they can. But in the consequence…they bankrupt themselves because what they did was try to make big blockbuster records which cost a lot of money, but which actually ultimately don’t sell and don’t pay back..and spend too much money on.. So, marginal material with the big companies is driven out of circulation, but what that does is bring forth, as in the literary world in the “Fifties, the growth of indigenous decentralized publishing or music. So actually it’s a very healthy move, because the monopolies get too monopolistic and finally break their own backs and other people’s patience, so people set out on their own and develop what should be developed which is decentralized publishing, mimeograph publishing, or garage band and home distribution which actually break through, as the punk movement did in that same move toward decentralization and rejection of the star system and the beginning of appreciation of local and provincial and individual and eccentrc marginal, but representative, and mass representative culture.So that actually the punk movement and the new wave movement finally took over as the only interesting thing in pop music, or the only interesting thing that real kids listen to, has an enormous effect… And groups like The Sex Pistols, or The Clash, or X in Los Angeles, or The Dead Kennedys are heard by people from Los Angeles to Milan, (and probably China, actually, now) . So it’s this funny balance that gets set up where the stranglehold on the money and on the distribution breaks of its own weight. And I don’t think it can be imposed in a dinosaur way for any length of time, it just cycles.
OR: Yes, and it will also develop into another dinosaur after some time..
AG: Not necessarily. That’s a typical Marxist view, or a typical negative view, but sometimes it might develop into a giant Buddha-field….
to be continued