Found: First Recording of Howl by Allen Ginsberg

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Found: First Recording of Howl by Allen Ginsberg

Unread postby Liz » Sun Mar 02, 2008 4:16 pm

I was a day old on that historical night at the Six Gallery in San Francisco, October 7, 1955. That was the first time Allen Ginsberg would read Howl publicly. Unfortunately, no recordings were made that evening. The first known recording of “Howl” was, as most thought, made at the Town Hall Theatre in Berkeley on March 18, 1956. Wrong. On a February night in 1956, Allen Ginsberg stood in front of a group of students in a dormitory lounge at Reed College and read from a manuscript that a few months later would be published as Howl and Other Poems. “Howl” is Ginsberg’s most famous poem, and a seminal work of the Beat Generation. Its publication led to the arrest (on obscenity charges) of its publisher, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, owner then and now of City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco. The trial that followed drew national attention to the San Francisco Renaissance and Beat movement writers and sparked censorship debates that are credited with broadening First Amendment protections.

Literary scholar John Suiter rediscovered the tape last summer while researching a biography of Beat poet Gary Snyder at the Reed College Library in Portland Oregon. Synder was a Reed graduate. The tape had been labeled, catalogued and overlooked for more than 50 years. Snyder and Ginsberg were on a hitch-hiking trip to the Pacific Northwest at the time the tape was made and spent February 13-14 on campus giving poetry readings.



When I first posted this tidbit in 2008, there was a direct link to the reading. It no longer exists. Somebody obviously pulled it. But luckily for us, Theresa was able to keep them somehow. Here are the links:

Part 1

Howl & seven other poems


Updated 08/06/13
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Unread postby b.p. olive » Sun Mar 02, 2008 11:14 pm

I must admit that I was extremely "Beat" unsavvy until I took on a project on "On the Road" at school (college - 28 years after my first round of college). In finding out all I can about Jack Kerouac, I am finding out a lot about those he was most in league with in those days. Two months ago, this news would have meant next to nothing to me. Now, it's very exciting. Thanks for posting it. :goodvibes:

On another note, some of my research on Jack Kerouac included the book "Jack Kerouac: Windblown World" by Douglas Brinkley. It's relatively new - 2004. The author mentions Johnny Depp in his acknowledgements as one of Kerouac's "truly devoted following."

Thanks again. :cool:
"I just don't, ya know, I mean, I just don't dance. Ya know. - - I don't get it. - - It's not my thing." -- Johnny Depp ("It Came From Baltimore" on the "Cry Baby" DVD)

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Unread postby Liz » Sun Mar 02, 2008 11:46 pm

I'm so glad that you found this post exciting, b.p. olive. 5 yours ago I wouldn't have had a clue about Howl. It is Johnny who has expanded my world--both in a literary sense and in other realms. I find it interesting that Douglas Brinkley and Johnny travel in the same circles, repeatedly.
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Unread postby justintime » Sun Mar 02, 2008 11:52 pm

There's also a two-disc special edition of "The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg" that is relatively new and absolutely wonderful.

It includes an 11-minute interview with Johnny (parts of which I've seen before) and a 3-minute interview with Hunter Thompson, as well as spots with many others who knew AG and had occasion to spend some time with him. Highly recommended.

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Unread postby Liz » Sun Mar 02, 2008 11:57 pm

Thanks for the info, justintime. :cool:
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby justintime » Mon Mar 03, 2008 12:05 am

Very welcome, to be sure.

I found it at my local library in the non-fiction section - was able to check it out for free! Hated to return it. It also includes several readings by AG of his own work that are simply breathtaking - love hearing poetry read by its author.

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Unread postby b.p. olive » Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:00 am

Liz wrote:I'm so glad that you found this post exciting, b.p. olive. 5 yours ago I wouldn't have had a clue about Howl. It is Johnny who has expanded my world--both in a literary sense and in other realms. I find it interesting that Douglas Brinkley and Johnny travel in the same circles, repeatedly.

Had it not been for Johnny, I wouldn't have jumped on the chance to do this project on Kerouac. So, yes, Johnny has expanded my world, too. And it just keeps going.
Interestingly, two of the 23 other choices were "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter S. Thompon and a passage from an Allen Ginsberg work. I happened to choose Kerouac.

Brinkley is a prolific writer, and I know he is (was?) in charge of Hunter's writings as executor. Are there other traveled circles besides Kerouac and Hunter that he and Johnny share? (Sometimes I feel like the robot in Short Circuit - "More Input!")

justintime -- I took "On the Road" on CD out from the library. It was narrated. I also used a video on Jack Kerouac for my research material. In it, Jack himself read a passage from his book. Infinitely better from the author. It's read the way it is meant.
"I just don't, ya know, I mean, I just don't dance. Ya know. - - I don't get it. - - It's not my thing." -- Johnny Depp ("It Came From Baltimore" on the "Cry Baby" DVD)



Captain Jack: "Well . . There is a chest."

Norrington: "Oh Dear."

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Unread postby MsStAmour » Mon Mar 03, 2008 3:40 am

Oh Liz! This is soo exciting. When I found out about Johnny's interest in the beats and his friendship with Ginsberg my suspicion that he was more than a pretty face was confirmed.

It seems like a million years ago, but it was definitely less Ginsberg came to my campus to do a reading and it happened to fall on my birthday. The best present that year was Ginsberg signing my copy of Howl. At the time I had no knowledge that he was notorious for NOT giving autographs or I probably wouldn't have asked. I screwed up all my courage and walked all the way to the front of the auditorium where he was sitting and chatting with faculty before his performance. Suddenly I was there next to him and my stomach was full of knots and the words I was speaking were timid and quavering. He turned and looked at me, sized me up and consented. Breathlessly I thanked him and returned to my seat with my friends. To this day it is one of my prised possessions.

Thanks for sharing this discovery, it brings back great memories.

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Unread postby Boo-Radley » Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:51 pm

Liz thanks for posting this, I'll have to give the clip a listen a later today {sadly}. Hopefully our Video Divas will be able to grab it for the Video board. :please:

I wasn't born yet when Ginsberg debuted Howl, I discovered him and the Beats in my teens, but I carry a copy of the book "Howl and Other Poems" around in my purse, it's always with me. :heart:

Justintime, so glad to hear that you liked the doc about Ginsberg too. :highfive:

MsStAmour, how fantastic you actually got to meet Ginsberg, and hear him read his poetry. :notworthy:

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"With this hand I will cup your.... Oh goodness no!"~~Victor Van Dort

"The theater is my drug, and my illness is so far advanced that my physic must be of the highest quality."~~John Wilmot

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Unread postby Liz » Mon Mar 03, 2008 4:09 pm

MsStAmour wrote:Oh Liz! This is soo exciting. When I found out about Johnny's interest in the beats and his friendship with Ginsberg my suspicion that he was more than a pretty face was confirmed.

It seems like a million years ago, but it was definitely less Ginsberg came to my campus to do a reading and it happened to fall on my birthday. The best present that year was Ginsberg signing my copy of Howl. At the time I had no knowledge that he was notorious for NOT giving autographs or I probably wouldn't have asked. I screwed up all my courage and walked all the way to the front of the auditorium where he was sitting and chatting with faculty before his performance. Suddenly I was there next to him and my stomach was full of knots and the words I was speaking were timid and quavering. He turned and looked at me, sized me up and consented. Breathlessly I thanked him and returned to my seat with my friends. To this day it is one of my prised possessions.

Thanks for sharing this discovery, it brings back great memories.

I’m glad you find it exciting. But it certainly can’t compare with your actually hearing him read in person and then getting his autograph.:highfive:

b.p. olive, I think there is only the Hunter and Kerouac connection. I must have been thinking of the number of connections to my world. In addition to the above, a couple of years ago I was with a friend who happened to see Brinkley and overhear his conversation in the lobby of the hotel in which we were staying. He also happens to live in the same town as DITHOT.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Mar 03, 2008 6:57 pm

Yes we are in the same town. I heard him speak at the Texas Book Fair, he was introducing another author. He is the editor of the last book of Hunter's letters. I was hoping to get a chance to ask him about that but it didn't work out that day.
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Unread postby Theresa » Mon Mar 03, 2008 10:15 pm

Boo, I've found the direct link to the recordings to download. All you need to do is right-click on the link (on a PC) and Save Target As... to save it to your hard drive.

Howl Part 1 (4.9 MB): http://www.reed.edu/news_center/downloads/2007-08/ginsberg/ginsberg_howl.mp3

Howl & seven other poems (12.0 MB): http://www.reed.edu/news_center/downloads/2007-08/ginsberg/ginsberg_readings.mp3

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Unread postby Liz » Tue Mar 04, 2008 1:05 am

:thanks!: Theresa!
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby Boo-Radley » Tue Mar 04, 2008 1:18 am

theresa wrote:Boo, I've found the direct link to the recordings to download. All you need to do is right-click on the link (on a PC) and Save Target As... to save it to your hard drive.

Howl Part 1 (4.9 MB): http://www.reed.edu/news_center/downloads/2007-08/ginsberg/ginsberg_howl.mp3

Howl & seven other poems (12.0 MB): http://www.reed.edu/news_center/downloads/2007-08/ginsberg/ginsberg_readings.mp3


WooHooo!!! :bounce: Thank you theresa, you're an angel. :angel: :hug:

Live in Depp
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Last edited by Boo-Radley on Tue Mar 04, 2008 11:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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"The theater is my drug, and my illness is so far advanced that my physic must be of the highest quality."~~John Wilmot

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Unread postby SweetSam » Tue Mar 04, 2008 3:57 am

:thanks!: very much, Theresa & Liz !!!
This is a treat! :bounce: :bounce:
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Q: "Brown Sugar" comes on …
Depp: I might sing a little harmony. I might air guitar. Drumming. I like to drum.

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