Saturday, 7 December 2013

A Ballad of American Skeletons

In the 2013 documentary "Going Underground: Paul McCartney, The Beatles And The UK Counter-culture", McCartney's relationship with underground poet Allen Ginsberg in the sixties was discussed, but they neglected to mention this latter day encounter between the two.
Allen Ginsberg (June 3, 1926 – April 5, 1997) was an American poet and one of the leading figures of both the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the counterculture that soon would follow. He vigorously opposed militarism, economic materialism and sexual repression. Ginsberg is best known for his epic poem "Howl", in which he denounced what he saw as the destructive forces of capitalism and conformity in the United States.
Ginsberg first published his poem “The Ballad of the Skeletons” in the pages of the magazine "The Nation" in 1995.
In October of 1995, Ginsberg visited Paul McCartney and his family at their home in England. He recited "The Ballad of the Skeletons" while one of McCartney’s daughters filmed it. Ginsberg mentioned that he had to give a reading with Anne Waldman and other poets at the Royal Albert Hall, and was looking for a guitarist to accompany him. “Why don’t you try me,” McCartney said. “I love the poem.”
Ginsberg continues the story:
"He showed up at 5 p.m. for the sound check, and he bought a box for his family. Got all his kids together, four of them, and his wife, and he sat through the whole evening of poetry, and we didn’t say who my accompanist was going to be. We introduced him at the end of the evening, and then the roar went up on the floor of the Albert Hall, and we knocked out the song."

This video clip documents their performance at the Royal Albert Hall on October 16, 1995 (the text on the video clip erroneously says 1993).


  1. Fantastic to see this again Roger, well done :-)

  2. Congratulions...Roger..great blog! I added link in my blog...Diário dos Beatles