Saturday, February 16, 2008

Poet and Prophet: First Recording of Allen Ginsberg's 'Howl' Found

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
madness, starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at

dawn looking for an angry fix,

angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient

heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the

machinery of night,who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high

sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of

cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities

contemplating jazz,

who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and

saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tene-

ment roofs illuminated,

who passed through universities with radiant cool

eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy
among the scholars of war

Allen Ginsberg died 11 years ago, the only one of the 3 major beat poets left (the others are Wiiliam Burroughs and Jack Kerouac).

He was not a rock and roller but inspired so many that he is critical in understanding rock's development from the 60’s.

His most famous poem, quoted above, Howl, smashed a hole in conservative American Culture, inspiring the folk singers of San Francisco and New York to do the same, creating a prophet out of Bob Dylan and setting a precedent for Lou Reed and Patti Smith.

Nowadays it seems things have come undone: Boy Bands, R ‘n’ B, retro, the poetry has all but gone………

Well not quite:

A tape of the first ever recording of Ginsberg reading Howl 50 years ago has been found in the library of a private college in Oregon, weeks before it was published and became a significant milestone in the cultural history of the US.

The recordings will be posted on

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