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Songs of Innocence and Experience (Allen Ginsberg album)

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Released  1970
Artist  Allen Ginsberg
Producer  Miles Associates
Release date  1970
Ginsberg's Thing (1969)  Songs of Innocence and Experience (1970)
Songs of Innocence and Experience (1970)  America Today! (The World's Greatest Poets Vol. I) (1971)
Labels  MGM Records, Verve Forecast Records
Similar  Jack Kerouac Reads O, The Last Word On First Blues, Holy Soul Jelly Roll: Poems a

Allen ginsberg william blake songs of innocence and experience elvin jones peter orlovksy


Songs of Innocence and Experience is a 1970 album by American beat poet Allen Ginsberg, in which he set to music and sang the poetry of William Blake's poetry collection of the same name. The record was released by MGM Records and Verve Forecast Records, and has since been out of print.

Contents

Background

In 1948, Ginsberg experienced a religious vision of Blake appearing in his East Harlem apartment and reciting poetry to Ginsberg. He was profoundly moved by this experience and inspired to set Blake's poetry to music. Ginsberg sang and played piano for the recording, with accompanists on drums. He had invited jazz bassist Charles Mingus to perform on the album, but Mingus declined.

Release and reception

Songs of Innocence and Experience was released by MGM Records and Verve Forecast Records, and credited as "by William Blake, tuned by Allen Ginsberg", while its production was credited to "Miles Associates". In a contemporary review for The Village Voice, music critic Robert Christgau gave the record an "A" and hailed it as "a collaboration of genius", crediting Ginsberg for singing in the manner of Blake's writing—"crude, human, touching, and superb"—and enhancing the source material with his musicians, a feat Christgau found seemingly impossible. Rolling Stone magazine's Lester Bangs was impressed by Ginsberg's lithe, high-toned voice and found the record effortless and unpretentious, "like a labor of love, a salute from a young visionary to an ancient sage, executed with delicacy and charm in a vocal style reminiscent of an Anglo-American muezzin." John G. Simon from The Harvard Crimson said the music demonstrated a range of styles and was not the most accessible but unforgettable nonetheless, offering listeners a way to remember the words to Blake's poetry as they would know the lyrics to popular music songs.

Ginsberg later considered buying the rights to Songs of Innocence and Experience back from MGM so that he could record the remainder of Blake's poems from said book, and release the work as a double-album. The album has since been out of print.

References

Songs of Innocence and Experience (Allen Ginsberg album) Wikipedia


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