Another cut from the extraordinary The Fall of America tribute album
Shintaro Sakamoto writes:
“Even though I live in Tokyo in the year 2020, the theme of “Manhattan Thirties Flash” is one that I can relate to very well. I felt that this is a universal theme for people living in cities all over the world, so I decided to take up this poem. The poem is very visual, and various images popped into my head, so I had a lot of fun creating the music in a way that allowed me to interpret it in my own way. For my Japanese 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. I am hono
red to be a part of such a wonderful project.”
AD: You contributed a reading/performance of “Manhattan Thirties Flash” to Allen Ginsberg’s The Fall of America 50th anniversary album. Hearing his words, and your recitation in Japanese, is a great combination, over that percolating drum machine and those slightly fuzzed guitars. Did Ginsberg’s personality influence the musical character of the song?
SS: The instruments and the sounds are based on my own interpretations of his poetry. For the vocals, I imagined the narration from the opening scene of a fictional dystopian film, or as if the parent was reading a picture book to their child.
AD: What do you most appreciate about Ginsberg’s lyricism?
SS: The attitude in trying to recover humanity and physicality in individuals, as the society becomes more and more rationalized.
We recommended Simon Warner‘s Substack last week. Here is his latest offering – “Blues and Beats, Fact and Fiction” – “Jonah Raskin‘s new novel entangles reality and imagination with the unveiling of Ginsberg’s “Howl” at its heart and music an integral part” – The novel in question, Beat Blues, San Francisco, 1955, is forthcoming from Coolgrove Press, New York in November, and, surprisingly, but curiously, effectively) blends fictional characters and real individuals and events from recent history.
SW: It is almost a kind of metafiction, using an unorthodox fictional form to reflect and commentate on actual happenings. How difficult was it to entwine reality and imagination? Are there other examples of this technique being applied?
JR: Thanks for saying that about Beat Blues being metafiction. I agree with you. John Clellon Holmes wrote a novel titled Go in the early 1950s. It has Ginsberg and Kerouac as characters. Also, in his first published novel, The Town and the City, Kerouac has Ginsberg as a character. So, others have gone before me..
Raskin is interviewed at length
Raskin, a prolific author, is of course, author of the excellent American Scream – Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ and the Making of the Beat Generation
Joyce Johnson, author of Minor Characters, Door Wide Open – A Beat Love Affair in Letters, The Voice Is All – The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac, and so much more, has an interesting account in the current Evergreen Review of life under lockdown – “My Pandemic”
Today (Friday) sees the official release of Anne Waldman and Fast Speaking Music’s version of Allen’s Plutonian Ode (on the occasion of Hiroshima Peace Day), an annual memorial (each August 6) to remember the victims of the nuclear explosions and to pray for the realization of lasting world peace