he describes it, as “an appropriately eerie”, a ‘psychedelic condensation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, scary & somewhat theistic in conception, in continuous rhythm as if there were a great being like Father Fisheye at the end or bottom of the 1960 Universe”)
Guitarist, Marc Ribot, who plays on it, declares – “The Lion For Real” has always been among my absolute favorites (both in the process of making it, and the results) of all the records I’ve played on.”
“Too many stories (but) I’ll pick one – the poem “Mind Breaths” contains the line “first thought, best thought”. But the first take of our version was particularly bad. “So Allen”, I said, like the wise-ass I was – “does that mean ‘first take best take’”? Allen responded in his most measured Buddhist manner – “The first take does not always best embody the first thought.” Perhaps the same is true of first pressings – I’m thrilled that this beautiful record is being re-released.”
(Mark) Kramer, guitar-legend, and (co)-producer of the new record (also producer of this video):
“I miss Allen. I miss Hal (Willner). I miss Gary (Windo). I miss Ralph (Carney). I miss the magic that only they, in their wisdoms of infinities, could offer up.
In 2023, Michael Minzer and I decided that it was high time to give this historic LP a new life. Michael tracked down as many of the 24-track tapes from the original sessions as he knew still existed, along with the surviving two-track stereo mixes we needed to complete our re-telling of the original LP. I’d imagined it to be my own personal vision of Hal’s director’s cut, illuminating the times of their lives, invaluable both to Ginsberg scholars and music listeners alike.
Hal brought Michael Minzer’s vision to life. Yes, it all began with Minzer. People need to know that. This whole blessed event was his crazy idea. It was one man’s infinite passion for poetry and music that ignited everything. Then, entrusted to the guidance of Hal’s divine compass, the real magic began to happen. And it’ll never happen like that again. The Lion, for Real.
The double-LP you’re now holding (sic)... restores all the missing pieces of Allen’s text and Hal’s ambitious musical vision. I’ve remixed everything we managed to salvage from the 24-track tapes, but I didn’t remix to make it sound “better”. I wouldn’t know ”better” if it came knocking on my front door like a heart attack. All I know is that I did what I felt in my heart was the right thing to do, which is also what I felt Allen and Hal (33 years after-the-fact) might have agreed (with posthumous hindsight) was best. With that in mind, I’ve mined through each and every take of each and every performance, searching for platinum, silver and gold. I found plenty. Every song/poem recorded during that week at A&R Studios is NYC is represented herein, including 8 that were not included on the original LP. I also added new music of my own to two poems that Allen recorded for which no music was ever written, and placed them last here, as a kind of coda. I just couldn’t help myself. I wanted more. I always have. I am ravenous. So was Hal, and so was Allen. They were unstoppable.
The Lion For Real, Re-Born is a roaring testament to their art, and to their lives, which of course were one and the same. Hey Allen. You like? Hey Hal. I’ll be seeing you.”
““No taxation without representation”/Who represents my body in Pentagon? Who spends/my spirit’s billions for war manufacture? Who/levies the majority to exult unwilling in Bomb/Roar?…”
Anne Waldman writes:
“This is still such a prescient poem, a ritual eviction and adjuration. Let this evil be gone! It needs to be performed, intoned, sung. It is still rigorously active as a calling out, a naming, a radical shift of frequency for our consciousness as a country, a power, dangerous to itself and the world. And opening with the lone poet-citizen-voice is tenderly arresting and historic, coming on heels of the famous rallying cry of the colonists during the American Revolution. It is amazing how compact this text is, how energized Ginsberg’s heart-cry, and it’s also a history lesson, a time nugget. As well as an actual location for protest. Blistering and profound. I always loved the notion of transforming the Pentacle’s skeleton to a maiden temple. This screed really rises with the kinetic “Apokatastasis!” invoking a doctrine of restoration, the uniting of all wayward beings and horrors of war to blessedness, which then builds further to the mind-protecting agency of mantra. Allen could often seamlessly mix the secular with the divine, the past to the future and enact transformation and liberation through poetry. It’s an honor to mouth these words with the shaping of music composed here. I am alwaysdelighted to work with my own family and musical friends as we navigate worlds of woe.”
Harry Smith‘s Whitney Museum show continues to garnish great reviews – Holland Cotter‘s was a stand-out in last Sunday’s New York Times – “Harry Smith was a Culture-Altering Shaman.Can The Whitney Contain Him?” –
For those of you in the Saugerties/Woodstock area this weekend. Harry Smith films (“Early Abstractions“) – don’t miss them – a rare screening this Sunday at the Orpheum Theatre with a live improvised score by composer-songwriter-improvisor, all-around-genius, Will Epstein
and more Smith news – Harry Smith Cosmographies, Raymond Foye‘s edition of Harry’s Naropa lectures (1988-1990) (with texts by Foye, Peter Lamborn Wilson, Diane di Prima and Charles Stein, as well as lecture-handouts – a substantial volume – 264 pages – limited edition only 500 copies – Smith-o-philes, we strongly suggest you order your copy now.
Jack Kerouac at Columbia. We recently reviewed those early days. See for example here and here. Julian Silva-Forbes revisits that terrain for The Columbia Spectator