On Mexico City Blues (23rd Chorus)

Allen Ginsberg’s 1981 Naropa class on Jack Kerouac’s Mexico City Blues continues – from here 
The class begins with a continuation of the discussion about how to secure a copy of the book, then Allen begins

AG: We haven’t gotten that far.  We’ve landed on (Chorus) 22.  We’re up to the 22nd Chorus today.  In fact we did (the) 22nd, so it’s 23.  And I wanted to start with 23 because 23 begins like this, on this side of the page. (to Student: You have a copy too, Chris (sic)?) Twenty-three begins with a list of what he’s going to go into.

“CHORUS NO. 1 of/ Blues in Bill’s Pad…” – (That’s 23rd Chorus.  Actually he’s saying the whole title is “Blues in Bill Garver’s Pad” –  so he’s naming number 1 as chorus #1 of “Blues in Bill’s Pad.”  That’s the one that began, “”Butte Magic of Ignorance/ Butte Magic/ Is the same as no-Butte” ( the 1st Chorus – first line)

So he says that “Chorus is NO. 23”, this is where we’re at, of “San Francisco Blues” –  So maybe it’s “San Francisco Blues.”(to two inattentive Students –  You might get it on, you two!) – That is to say, he’s thinking (of) re-titling it now, this “23rd Chorus” of “San Francisco Blues” – [Editorial note – “San Francisco Blues” is actually the title of Kerouac’s first book-length collection of blues, which was only officially published after his death, although a few of them were recorded and put out on the “Beat Generation” LP]

“CHORUS NO. 23 of/ San Francisco Blues/ FOURTEEN CHORUSES/ of Blue City Blues..”- (So he’s just making up imaginary titles for blues songs) – “Fifteen O Choruses/of Genu wine blues” – (G-E-N-U W-I-N-E.  So wino blues or genuine blues)

“Sing you a blues song/sing you a tune/Sing you eight bars/of Strike Up the Band/   Eight of Indiana, eight/of Israel,/Eight of Chubby’s Chubby/eight of old Wardell” – (Chubby Checker.  Remember the rock and roll artist of the Forties-Fifties [Sixties – sic]?  And Wardell Gray was one of the great white – I think white, maybe – anybody know jazz? – Post-bop. (to Student (Rosalie Robinson) –  Do you remember Wardell Gray at all, Rosalie? (sic))  Post-bop.  One of the post-bop musicians of the late Forties, early Fifties.  And there’s a famous song by Wardell Gray and Dexter Gordon called “The Chase,” which I have, so I can bring it in and play it.  It’s the two saxophones – Wardell’s saxophone and Dexter Gordon chasing each other around like rats around the bathtub and answering each other, talking to each other, making American language cadences, capping each other, answering each other back and forth and in a good old time blues jazz session.

“Sing you eight bars/ of Strike Up the Band/  Eight of Indiana, eight/ of Israel..’ – (Because of all the Jewish tin-pan alley musicians) – “Eight of Chubby’s Chubby/eight of old Wardell/.  Yes baby, Count Blue/ Basie’s fat old Chock/ Wallopin fat Rushing/ Was a wow old saloon man” – (That was Jimmy Rushing, who was the soloist, vocalist, with Count Basie‘s Band.  What did Jimmy Rushing do?  (to Students)  Does anybody know Jimmy Rushing?  At all?  Anybody ever hear of Jimmy Rushing?  Well, actually there’s a lot of little hints in here, if you go back and listen to this stuff.  Jimmy Rushing, particularly.  Wardell Gray, Dexter Gordon and the old Count Basie Bands.  It’s a history.  It’s the essentials of the history of the development of be-bop.  Jazz through be-bop into what we have now.

Count Basie you know?  Has anybody heard Count Basie?  Count Basie was the big band.  Count Basie was the big black band of the Thirties and Forties.  He was a big fat guy, clunked on the piano. Great pianist.  Jimmy Rushing was one of the more (or) most sophisticated of all the black blues singers – things like “Going to Chicago, sorry that I can’t take you.”  But he also did popular tunes.  The point was that “Basie’s fat old Chock/Wallopin fat Rushing/Was a wow old saloon man..” – (A big, fat black from saloons, singing blues in the whorehouses,  in saloons originally).

Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately two minutes in and concluding at approximately six-and-a-quarter minutes in

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