More Ginsberg and Dylan – the final chapter (we think)

By Aaron Galbraith and Tony Attwood

We have over the years looked at Bob Dylan’s work with Allen Ginsberg a number of times – the articles noted above are the main ones.  Not with any intention of doing a series on Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan but rather as a way of recording what we have found (mostly what Aaron has found) as the information has come to light.

This article looks to pull in the other work the two did together which we haven’t touched on so far – and so (as far as we know) round the articles off.  But if you we have missed something… please see the plea at the end.


Bob was involved in two sessions with Allen Ginsberg, once in November 1971 and again in January 82. These resulted in a number of tracks which appeared on the Ginsberg album “First Blues” and subsequently on two further Ginsberg box sets. Tony has already reviewed the Ginsberg/Dylan co-writes “Vomit Express”, “Jimmy Berman Rag”, “September On Jessore Road” and “ For You, Baby”. So now let’s take a listen to some more tracks from these sessions featuring Bob’s musical backing.

First up, with Bob on vocals, guitar, piano and organ… it’s “Goin’ To San Diego”

Tony: What I can’t work out is whether Ginsberg actually can’t sing in tune and has no sense of time and rhythm, or if this is just put on to make a politico-musical point.   The clarinettist is however a fine musician – his work contrasts with the lyrics.  Is that the point?  I wish I knew.

Aaron: Next Bob contributes vocals, piano, organ and guitar to two poems by William Blake, A Dream and Nurse’s Song. I’m not sure anyone will listen to these all the way through. To be honest, they are a bit of a chore, still it’s interesting to hear Bob’s arranging skills.

Also from the same sessions was Ginsberg’ own composition “Spring (Merrily Welcome)”. Bob plays guitar, piano, organ and provides backing vocals. This one is (mercifully) a bit shorter than the others and much more upbeat.

Tony: Ginsberg is highly rated by many people, and Dylan is known to be hyper critical of his own work (just see Dignity Part 1: A bloody mess – the start of Jochen’s new series on “Dignity”).   So as for what is going on here, I remain puzzled as before.

Aaron: The final two this time were taken from the 1982 sessions, these were released in 2016 on the “Last Word On “First Blues”” box set. They are a lot funkier than we are used to and here we have the unusual pleasure of hearing Bob join in on bass guitar!

And the second…

Tony: If there is someone who is kind enough to read Untold Dylan, and who has an insight into the music of Ginsberg and why Dylan recorded these pieces with him, I would love to receive either a comment below, or a whole article (send to on Ginsberg and Dylan – or if you prefer Dylan and Ginsberg – which we can publish.

Or indeed if you have a book that explains it all, please do let us know what it is and we’ll try and get a copy.  Bemusement exists within the Untold Offices.


Untold Dylan: who we are what we do

Untold Dylan is written by people who want to write for Untold Dylan.  It is simply a forum for those interested in the work of the most famous, influential and recognised popular musician and poet of our era, to read about, listen to and express their thoughts on, his lyrics and music.

We welcome articles, contributions and ideas from all our readers.  Sadly no one gets paid, but if you are published here, your work will be read by a fairly large number of people across the world, ranging from fans to academics.  If you have an idea, or a finished piece send it as a Word file to with a note saying that it is for publication on Untold Dylan.

We also have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with around 8000 active members. Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link    And because we don’t do political debates on our Facebook group there is a separate group for debating Bob Dylan’s politics – Icicles Hanging Down




  1. Ginsberg’s oft vulgar and dark humoured lyrics had a profound influence on the artists of the anti-Vietnam War ‘Beat’ generation – he broke the mould of conventional poetry and songs of that time – he and Dylan were ‘kindred spirits’:

    Do the meditation, do the meditation, do the meditation, do the meditation
    Learn a little patience
    With generosity, generosity, generosity, and generosity
    (The Last Word On The Blues)

  2. Politician’s got on his jogging shoes
    He must be running for office, got no time to lose
    He’s been sucking the blood out of the genius of generosity
    (Bob Dylan: Summer Days)

  3. Another inversion of the motif:

    Equality, liberty, humility, simplicity
    You glance through the mirror, and there’s eyes staring clear
    At the back of your head as you drink
    And there’s no time to think
    (Bob Dylan: No Time To Think)

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