A Newbury Comics exclusive color vinyl pressing.
Along with Howl, Kaddish stands as one of Allen Ginsberg’s most illustrious creations. Always a follower of popular trends in music, Ginsberg had spent parts of 1958 digging into Ray Charles’ “I Got A Woman” – occasionally doing so while on morphine and methamphetamine. One evening, in this drug-induced state while cranking some Ray, Ginsberg began discussing his mother Naomi with his pal Zev Putterman. Putterman in turn, began reciting the traditional Hebrew “Kaddish” prayer for mourning the dead. Soon after, fueled by Dexedrine, LSD, and caffeine, Allen penned the majority of Kaddish. In early 1959, Kaddish received its debut performance at a poetry reading at Columbia University – in which Allen shared the bill with his lover Peter Orlovsky and fellow beat poet Gregory Corso. Over time, the manuscript was tweaked and adjusted until publication in April 1961 by City Lights. Then, in November 1964, with Orlovsky and Corso in tow, the trio performed several gigs at Harvard and Brandeis Universities, and it was at Brandeis where this recording was made. Released in 1966, Kaddish turned out to be the only record in Atlantic’s spoken-word Verbum series; but if label head Jerry Wexler changed his mind about the imprint, he remained a big fan of the work, later telling Los Angeles historian Harvey Kubernik that Kaddish had stirred “the Yiddish currents in my own blood” and inspired “joy and anguish…the exaltation that great poetry will bring on.” Indeed, Kaddish is an intensely personal and moving work, capturing the complex relationship between Ginsberg, his mother, and his faith, and concluding with a heartrending description of her death.