I Saw The Best Minds Of My Generation Destroyed By Madness

Jack Kerouac may have been the handsome, freewheeling, checked shirt and chino, hitch-hiking, Zen typing, King of the Beats but in the long term Allen Ginsberg was probably a more sorted fella. In the mid 50s he pioneered a new form of poetry and won an obscenity trial over his poem Howl, particularly fighting against homophobic laws and attitudes. in the 60s he adopted the hippies and they adopted him, befriending Bob Dylan and being conspicuous in the anti-Vietnam movement. On meeting London’s swinging 60s leading lights he stripped naked; John Lennon left he room aghast muttering ‘not in front of the birds’. I thought I had an mp3 of him reading America but can’t find it. It’s a great poem, starting…

America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing. 
America two dollars and twenty-seven cents January 17, 1956. 
I can’t stand my own mind. 
America when will we end the human war? 
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb 
I don’t feel good don’t bother me. 


And finishing…

America this is quite serious. 
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set. 
America is this correct? 
I’d better get right down to the job. 
It’s true I don’t want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts factories

I’m nearsighted and psychopathic anyway. 
America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.

Instead this is Ginsberg reading his epic Howl.

Howl

While in New York for their residency at Bond’s Casino The Clash crossed paths with Ginsberg. Joe Strummer and Ginsberg collaborated on some lyrics, though Strummer later said Ginsberg’s contribution was only a few words.Ginsberg then provided vocals on the superb Ghetto Defendant, from Combat Rock (including some memorable lines- slamdance cosmopolis, enlighten the populace; strung out committee, walled out of the city). Today’s bonus download is the version of Ghetto Defendant from Mick Jones’ unreleased Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg bootleg (later to be pruned and polished into Combat Rock). This one is rougher and features more Ginsberg.

Ghetto Defendant (Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg version)

2 Responses

  1. You gotta check out the Ginsberg Estate blog – The Allen Ginsberg Project – amazing resources and hundreds of posts – here's the one on Ginsberg and The Clash – http://ginsbergblog.blogspot.ca/2011/06/allen-ginsberg-punk-rocker-part-two.html-but there's plenrty more!

  2. Thanks anon. Will have a look at this later.

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