The Beloved Poet Sings William Blake’s “Songs of Innocence & Experience”: ‘In December of 1969, Allen Ginsberg June 3, 1926–April 5, 1997, one of the most beloved and influential poets of the twentieth century, recorded a strange and wonderful LP, setting William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience to song. Accompanied by an eclectic orchestra — Cyril Caster on trumpet, Janet Zeitz on flute, Bob Dorough on piano, Don Cherry on bass trombone, beaded gourd, sleigh bells and finger cymbals — Ginsberg gives Blake’s binary battery of innocence and experience a whole new dimension of enchanting duality.
Blake’s poetry was a particularly poignant choice for Ginsberg at a time when his own spiritual journey had taken him into the depths of Buddhism — at once a curious contrast with Blake’s heavy Christian influence and a sensical parallel to the ambivalence about the human soul, coupled with social and religious ambivalence, at the heart of Blake’s message.
Thanks to the remarkable PennSound archive… these rare recordings endure in digital form. Here are three of them for our shared delight.’ (Brain Pickings).