Lawrence Ferlinghetti sings William Blake to Allen Ginsberg

Lawrence Ferlinghetti – photo: Christopher Felver

John Fahey (1939-2001)

We’ve been featuring William Blake a lot of late here on The Allen Ginsberg Project and we’re unapologetic, there’ll be plenty more. But today, a particularly unusual item (courtesy that wonderful trove of materials at the Stanford University Archives) – see herea private recording – Lawrence Ferlinghetti sings Blake (with guitar accompaniment by the legendary John Fahey)

“A New Years Greeting, for Allen, sitting here, bright morning, January 1st, 1972, North Beach.” – “The melodies, mostly after Allen Ginsberg’s melodies, for William Blake”.

Ferlinghetti-Fahey perform three songs – “Ah! Sunflower” –  “The Garden of Love” and “The Nurses Song” (It might be instructive having heard them to compare them with Allen’s own versions (here, here and here))

Ferlinghetti, somewhat sweetly, somewhat poignantly, concludes the tape with the words, “Bye now I’m going to heaven, Lawrence Ferlinghetti”

John Fahey – for those not familiar with him, someone you really ought to discover – Highly recommended is Steve Lowenthal’s 2014 bio – Dance of Death – The Life of John Fahey American Guitarist  . And on to the music…

Here’s Blind Joe Death (from 1959) and The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death (from 1965)

Here’s Lawrence with more about Allen and Blake

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