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Posted: 2007 02-08


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Electric Guitar Poetry — The Beats Meet The Beatles

This was filmed at a Rockin Peak time for the Beats.  NYU just held their historic Beat Conference the summer before, all sorts of new and old books were coming out, and the Whitney Museum was just about to open their landmark “Beat Culture and the New America” museum-wide exhibition in New York the next month.

This was the last great flash before Allen and Bill Burroughs’ flames both extinguished in 1997.

And what a performance and way to go out. This is a great multi-camera, well-edited shoot of two Kings on the Royal Albert stage.  Allen and McCartney actually did a really funny & punchy video for this song/poem, directed by no less than Gus van Zant, and with music by Philip Glass and Lenny Kaye, which you absolutely must see.  

If you ever wanted to know what he was like, this is Allen.  Prime, Classic, Happy, Grooving, Bouncing — doing one of his later live-performance “hits” for sure, along with Don’t Smoke, and The CIA Dope-Calypso Blues. Usually this was with Lenny Kaye or the like on guitar — but here he's cueing The Beatle.

and — Viewing Tip:  This is funny.  The message of the poem is serious, but he's bringing you the Beat Evening News in a comical, lyrical, playful way.  It's a light take on heavy shit.  

The Beatles and Dylan influenced each other — but both were heavily influenced by the Beats — who were doing electric-guitar-poetry even before electric guitars were invented.

And dig the improv. Allen was always changing this poem, adding and subtracting verses as current events unfolded — and you can hear it here so clearly even when he introduces it in England as the "American Ballad of the Skeletons."  

This is 7 choice minutes of The Beats Meeting The Beatles.


Handsome Boy's picture

Oh that Brian Hassett, is he not the best reviewer on this site?!
What a great clip. I think I know about everything. My skeleton
must have been too busy to notice the trio of Van Zant, McCartney and Ginsberg.
The lines about Chrysler and talk show hosts must have been written last week!!


YouTube Uploader: georgeferreira

Live at the Royal Albert Hall, October 16, 1995.

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