Fall of America Tribute CD

The Fall of America tribute  – the day has finally arrived! (actually, official release day is tomorrow) – An extraordinarily exciting and eclectic gathering of musicians and performers have come together to celebrate and interpret Allen’s remarkable (and singularly prophetic) text. The project has been lovingly shepherded by Jesse Goodman and Peter Hale (of The Allen Ginsberg Estate), Allen Ginsberg Recordings, and is dedicated to the memory of the late great Hal Willner. Proceeds from sales will go to benefit HeadCount.org, an organization that promotes voter registration through music, “translating the power of music and culture into real action”.

The digital release is tomorrow.  A vinyl version will be available this coming June, (June 3rd), on the occasion of what would have been Allen’s 95th birthday.

For full details and ordering information – check out the Bandcamp page – here

The Fall of America: Poems of these States 1965-1971 was published by City Lights Books in its famous Pocket Poets format and was the winner in 1974 of the National Book Award for Poetry.

Michael Schumacher, from the introduction to The Fall of America Journals 1965-1971 (2020):

“In 1965, Ginsberg began planning an ambitious project, a book of thematically connected poems, a collection that “discovered” America in poetry similar to the way Kerouac’s On the Road had explored the country in prose. The Vietnam War would be a constant presence overhanging Ginsberg’s travel writings like a darkening shadow affecting daily life in the country. It would be a study of contrasts – natural beauty slammed up against an ugliness that rose out of the tensions of violence. The public’s polarized dialogue over Vietnam and, earlier in the decade, the civil rights movement, convinced Ginsberg that America was teetering on the precipice of a fall..”

Mickey Hart (ex-drummer for The Grateful Dead), one of the contributors to the project notes:
“While most people tend to reflect the brightness of the era, Ginsberg didn’t shy away from the darkness. He writes the scene in all its complexity, the busts of excitements and Dionysian excesses as well as darker images, such as the sculpture of the hanged man. He forces us to recognize the children sleeping in the bed and the police cars parked outside, red lights revolving in the trees.” (Hart’s contribution is a musical interpretation of Allen’s classic “First Party at Ken Kesey’s With Hell’s Angels“)

Here’s Ed Sanders on his contribution:
“When invited to write a musical setting from The Fall of America, I chose the powerful final sixteen lines of “Memory Gardens”, (his elegy the death of Jack Kerouac) adding some explanatory text at the beginning to make it more vivid. Ahh Allen, Ahh Jack!”

and Shintaro Sakamoto (responsible for an extraordinary Japanese reading):
“For my…reading, I tried to keep the tone much like the narration at the beginning of a dystopian film, or a parent reading a storybook of old stories to their children.”
He continues: “I am honored to be a part of such a wonderful project.”

Mickey Hart, Ed Sanders, Shintaro Sakamoto, Angelique Kidjo, Yo La Tengo, Bill Frisell, Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, Steven Taylor….   twenty tracks all told (covering a wide range of places Allen manages to register in the book).

Here’s the full track-list:

Scanner – “Elegy for Neal Cassady”
Handsome Family – “Hiway Poesy Painted Desert into Albuquerque”
Shintaro Sakamoto – “Manhattan Thirties Flash
Thurston Moore & Lee Ranaldo – “Hum Bom”
Aliah Rosenthal – “War Profit Litany”
Ed Sanders (The Fugs) – “Memory Gardens”
Mickey Hart – “Drones Du Jour (First Party at Ken Kesey’s with Hell’s Angels)”
ethereal_interface– “An Open Window on Chicago”
Howie B with Gavin Friday – “Death on All Fronts (America is Falling)”
Disco Pusher – “A Prophecy”
Kaya Project – “Wales Visitation”
Angelique Kidjo – “Uluru Song”
Bill Frisell – “Over Laramie”
Andrew Bird– “Easter Sunday”
Devendra Banhart  “Milarepa Taste”
Yo La Tengo – “Bayonne into NYC”
The Good Ones (Rwanda) – “Falling Asleep in America”
Steven Taylor – “Continuation of a Long Poem in These States”
Lang Lee – “Pain on All Fronts”
Social Animals – “Falling Asleep In America (Roses Smell Sweet)”

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