Kramer preps ‘WORDS & MUSIC’ ft Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg, Sam Lipsyte, Terry Southern, more
Producer and Shimmy Disc label founder Kramer is releasing WORDS & MUSIC Book 1, an album featuring spoken word pieces by Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg, Sam Lipsyte, Terry Southern, Tina May Hall, and more set to ambient pieces composed by Kramer. The album was inspired by the late John Giorno's Dial-a-Poem poets project, as well as the collaborative projects of Hal Willner (who died in 2020). "The words are theirs," Kramer says. "The music is mine. Together, they’re yours. And they’re on vinyl, where they belong." He describes his compositions as "liquid foundations for the words to float upon. The music must never come between the listener, and the words. The words come first."
You can listen to the Gregory Corso piece, "Army," below. Corso's spoken word piece was recorded in Chicago, in January 1959 and the poem appeared in 1960's "The Happy Birthday Of Death." You can also read more about the album from Kramer below.
WORDS & MUSIC Book 1 will be out November 12 via Shimmy-Disc/Joyful Noise Recordings.
John Giorno died in 2019, but with his Dial-a-Poem Poets project, he kept poetry alive like nobody's business. His Foundation has since resurrected the archive online so that anyone can listen to his seemingly never-ending treasure trove of historical audio. I was lucky enough to have spent some time with him in the early 1980’s when I was a member of The Fugs, and I often found myself surrounded by those whom Allen Ginsberg called, "...the greatest minds of my generation”. Giorno felt it was important to juxtapose the works of well-known poets beside lesser-known ones, and Ginsberg and the other gods of that scene were in full agreement. Promoting the works of writers whose work they felt strongly about was a big part of those Dial-a-Poem poetry LPs, and it’s a big part of my own decision to launch this series.
It all began with a commission from Michael Minzer for me to compose music for Gregory Corso’s “ARMY." Once I’d put music beneath that extraordinary voice, I simply couldn’t stop.
With Minzer’s help, I secured the rights to one of my favorites of Allen Ginsberg’s poems, “AT APOLLINAIRE’S GRAVE”, and set that to music, as well. I asked Terry Southern’s son Nile if he would contribute something from his father’s archives, and he enthusiastically agreed. Then I invited some of my favorite living writers, both young and old, to contribute recordings of their own. I think the Dead would have approved.
Ed Sanders (who'd ushered me into that scene) once told me that when he came to NYC, it was easy to go into a cafe or to St Marks Church and hear Burroughs, Corso, Ginsberg, Snyder, Waldman and all the greats, reading their poetry. He said that even if you were just “a nobody, like I was”, you could just walk right up to them and start a conversation. They were totally accessible. So i was shocked when Sanders went on to tell me he didn't approach any of them, not even once, til he'd been going to their readings for nearly ten years.
"For almost a decade, I went to every reading, every lecture, every panel discussion. But I never went near them. Not even once", Sanders said. "For ten years, all I did, was LISTEN."
It took me four decades since I first listened to “Big Ego”, the Dial-A-Poem double-LP I’d found so long ago in the $2 bin of a Woodstock used record shop, but ... better late than never. I finally made WORDS & MUSIC, Book One.
The words are theirs. The music is mine. Together, they’re yours. And they’re on vinyl, where they belong.
One last thing; Following John Giorno’s trailblazing work to preserve the words and voices and sounds of the world’s greatest poets, there was another man whose love of the spoken word led him to devote huge swaths of his own life to creating audio works that brought these great poets and their words to a wider audience, via music; my dear friend HAL WILLNER, who died of Covid-19 in early 2020, when the pandemic was only just starting to look ugly.
Hal was one of the greatest record producers of his generation, and he was (and IS) the living link between Giorno and his Dial-a-Poem Poets, myself, and this series of vinyl LP’s I call WORDS & MUSIC. This debut LP in the series is dedicated to him. To Hal. In Loving Memory.
I’m working on Book Two.
- Kramer, Sept. 2021
WORDS & MUSIC, Book One - TRACKLIST
1. GREGORY CORSO - “ARMY”
2. TINA MAY HALL - “THE EXTINCTION MUSEUM”
3. SAM LIPSYTE - “HOME LAND” (excerpt)
4. CHRISTINE SCHUTT - “AN UNSEEN HAND PASSED OVER THEIR BODIES”
5. GARY LUTZ - “IT COLLECTS IN ME"
6. ALLEN GINSBERG - “AT APOLLINAIRE’S GRAVE”
7. DAWN RAFFEL - “FLESH, BLOOD"
8. JASON SCHWARTZ - “JACKAL PATTERN”
9. KATHRYN SCANLAN - “VAGRANTS”
10. SCOTT McCLANAHAN - “JAMES”
11a. TERRY SOUTHERN - “SURREALIST DIALOG”
11b. TERRY SOUTHERN - “A PROCLAMATION”