"Ginsberg is both tragic and dynamic, a lyrical genius, con man extraordinaire, and probably the single greatest influence on American poetical voice since Whitman." -Bob Dylan
"Pot is Fun" -Allen Ginsberg
"I'm not a Hippie!" -Jonathan Richman
At the end of "See You Later, Allen Ginsberg," you can hear Bob Dylan start to say, "Let's erase..." (that!) or something to that effect. This track has most of what's great about the lighter tracks on the The Basement Tapes: humor, spontaneity, cannabis, and illicitness (it is a bootleg) and maybe we shouldn't be listening to it, or maybe it should have been erased as Dylan starts to suggest. Thankfully, it was not.
A few years later, Dylan heard Ginsberg at a reading, improvising poetry to some music and called him to talk about it. A week later they were in the studio recording with an assembled cast of characters including Anne Waldman and Happy Traum. They recorded several tracks for what eventually became Ginsberg's record First Blues, including "Put Your Money Down," which is the traditional sea shanty "Pay Me Your Money Down" and "For You, Oh Babe For You," which to my ears sounds more like late period Velvet Underground than anything else.
So, with that in mind I've assembled a sprawling little playlist here, that follows a tagent beginning with Dylan and moving on to some live Velvets from 1969; The Modern Lovers, who used to the Velvets' sound as a starting point; Wilco who nailed it on at least one track and another performance of Ginsberg from 1982 with The Clash.
"See You Later, Allen Ginsberg"
by Bob Dylan & The Band, 1967.
available on The Genuine Basement Tapes
"Put My Money Down"
"For You, Oh Babe For You"
By Bob Dylan & Allen Ginsberg, 1971.
available on Fourth Time Around: Genuine Bootleg Series Vol. 4
"Sweet Bonnie Brown/It's Just Too Much"
by The Velvet Underground, 1969.
available on 1969: Velvet Underground Live, Vol. 2
by Wilco, 1999.
available on Summerteeth
"Roadrunner" alternate version
by The Modern Lovers, 1972.
available on The Modern Lovers
by Jonathan Richman, 1992.
available on I, Jonathan
by The Clash with Allen Ginsberg, 1982.
available on Combat Rock
Allen Ginsberg with Joe Strummer and Mick Jones
New York City, 1982. © Hank O'Neal
Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg at Jack Kerouac's Grave
Lowell Massachusetts, 1975. © Ken Regan