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Vol. 52 no. 2: Fall 2018

Allen Ginsberg, The Complete Songs of Innocence and Experience

  • Luke Walker
1 October 2018
01 Oct. 2018


There are several reasons why this 2017 album release represents a significant moment for anyone interested in the role played by William Blake in shaping the counterculture of the sixties (and the role of that counterculture in shaping academic and popular understandings of Blake). The most basic is that the original 1970 album, Songs of Innocence and Experience [sic] by William Blake, Tuned by Allen Ginsberg, has never previously been made available as a CD or digital download. However, it is a credit to Pat Thomas, who produced this expanded reissue for Omnivore Recordings, that there are other, more important, reasons to celebrate. The double-CD Complete Songs of Innocence and Experience is not just a rerelease of the album in a new format with a few alternative takes added as filler; rather, at over twice the length, it aims for the first time to fulfill Ginsberg’s original intentions for his extensive Blake recording project, to which he devoted much of his creative energy between 1968 and 1971.