Saturday, September 28, 2013

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: Ginsberg & McCartney Live

I was fortunate to speak to poet Allen Ginsberg several times over the years. The first was as a high school student attending a massive NYC anti-Vietnam war protest, where I spotted him marching behind me and had a brief exchange. I think of that in connection with the video above, in which Ginsberg recites his "A Ballad of American Skeletons" to the guitar accompaniment of Paul McCartney at the Royal Albert Hall, London, 1993. Ginsberg, after all, was the most political of the Beat writers. In 1996, he described the ballad as a response to the repressive forces of the time: "“I started it because [of] all that inflated bull about the family values, the ‘Contract with America,’ Newt Gingrich and all the loudmouth stuff on talk radio, and Rush Limbaugh and all those other guys.” I also recommend listening to Ginsberg's "Birdbrain," a condemnation of oppressive figures across the globe.

Written in memory of Hal Goldman (1954-2010), Beat scholar, blues brother
"Strange now to think of you, gone...
While I walk on the sunny pavement of Greenwich Village." - Allen Ginsberg, "Kaddish"

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