Artists Pay Tribute to Allen Ginsberg and “The Fall of America”

Musicians Mickey Hart, Yo La Tengo and Bill Frisell are uniting to celebrate The Fall of America: Poems of These States 1965-1971, by beat poet Allen Ginsberg, musically interpreting all the poems from the book.

allen ginsberg
Cover art to Allen Ginsberg’s The Fall of America: Poems of These States 1965-1971.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the U.S. was involved in what’s often referred to as one of the worst, most pointless wars in history. The Vietnam War sparked hatred across the country, but inspired works of artistic and musical genius. The Fall of America is a collection of Allen Ginsberg poems from 1965 to 1971.

In 1965, Ginsberg began planning an ambitious project, a book of thematically connected poems, a collection that ‘discovered’ America in poetry similar to the way Kerouac’s On the Road had explored the country in prose. The Vietnam War would be a constant presence overhanging Ginsberg’s travel writings like a darkening shadow affecting daily life in the country. It would be a study of contrasts: natural beauty slammed up against an ugliness that rose out of the tensions of violence. The public’s polarized dialogue over Vietnam and, earlier in the decade, the civil rights movement, convinced Ginsberg that America was teetering on the precipice of a fall.

Michael Schumacher, The Fall of America Journals 1965-1971.

The fall of America is a phrase that can be used today because of the treachery our country has been put through in recent times. The racism, the riots, the pandemic and our political divide are all symptoms of a nation falling apart. The Fall of America – A 50th Anniversary Musical Tribute is not only a representation of our nation today, but also all of the proceeds from album sales go to HeadCount, an organization set to spread the importance of democracy and voter registration.

“While most people tend to reflect the brightness of the era, Ginsberg didn’t shy away from the darkness. He writes the scene in all its complexity, the busts of excitements and Dionysian excesses as well as darker images, such as the sculpture of the hanged man. He forces us to recognize the children sleeping in the bed and the police cars parked outside, red lights revolving in the trees,” said Hart.

The Allen Ginsberg tribute album is set to release digitally on Feb. 5 and on CD and LP on June 5.

Digital Track Listing:

1)    Scanner – Elegy for Neal Cassidy
2)    Handsome Family – Hiway Poesy Painted Desert into Albuquerque
3)    Shintaro Sakamoto – Manhattan Thirties Flash
4)    Thurston Moore & Lee Ranaldo – Hum Bom
5)    Aliah Rosenthal – War Profit Litany
6)    Ed Sanders (The Fugs) – Memory Gardens
7)    Mickey Hart – Drones Du Jour (First Party at Ken Kesey’s with Hell’s Angels
8)    ethereal_interface – An Open Window on Chicago
9)    Howie B with Gavin Friday – Death on All Fronts (America is Falling)
10) Disco Pusher – A Prophecy
11) Kaya Project – Wales Visitation
12) Angelique Kidjo – Uluru Song
13) Bill Frisell – Over Laramie
14) Andrew Bird – Easter Sunday
15) Devendra Banhart – Milarepa Taste
16) Yo La Tengo – Bayonne into NYC
17) The Good Ones (Rwanda) – Falling Asleep in America
18) Steven Taylor – Continuation of a Long Poem in These States
19) Lang Lee – Pain on All Fronts
20)  Social Animals – Falling Asleep In America (Roses Smell Sweet)

Vinyl Track Listing:

Side A:

1)    Scanner – Elegy for Neal Cassidy
2)    Shintaro Sakamoto – Manhattan Thirties Flash
3)    Thurston Moore & Lee Ranaldo – Hum Bom
4)    Ed Sanders (The Fugs) – Memory Gardens
5)    Mickey Hart – Drones Du Jour (First Party at Ken Kesey’s)
6)    Howie B with Gavin Friday – Death on All Fronts (America is Falling)
7)    Disco Pusher – A Prophecy
Side B:
1)    Angelique Kidjo – Uluru Song
2)    Bill Frisell – Over Laramie
3)    Andrew Bird – Easter Sunday
4)    Devendra Banhart – Milarepa Taste
5)    Yo La Tengo – Bayonne into NYC
6)    Lang Lee – Pain on All Fronts
Bonus download: Youth – Iron Horse (An Epic 32 Minute Auditory Journey)

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