Every so often we go trolling through ABE books, looking at all the high-end Ginsberg items, Did you know a signed first-edition (first printing) of Howl in the proper (pristine) condition (Howl’s first printing was actually a small mimeo edition, circulated privately among friends) can set you back over 5000 dollars? One interesting item we noticed was this, Allen’s inscribed copy of his (UK) 1967 Cape Goliard volume, TV Baby Poems, inscribed to Beatle Paul McCartney and then re-inscribed “To R von Kauffungen, who bought this copy in N.Y. at a book fair 1978″. “It is understood”, the bookseller points out, tracing the provenance, that “the volume was donated (by McCartney) to an Apple charity auction”. “For Paul McCartney”, Allen writes, That, all fantasies, harmonise sweetly & also Hari Krishna!”, (the date, significantly, pre-publication, Aug, 16, 1967; the location, “Albion” (England)).
The bookseller adds further details: “Paul McCartney is immortalized in the poem “Middle of a Long Poem on These States: Kansas City to St. Louis” (a section of “Wichita Vortex Sutra”) contained in this edition”. (and) “Perhaps more significantly McCartney later uses a line from the same poem “electric arguments“ as the title for the third album of his musical collaboration with “Youth” (Martin Glover) (recorded under the name, The Firemen)”. Ginsberg “first met the Beatles in 1965, when John Lennon and George Harrison attended his 39th birthday party, and went on to form lasting relationships with (all of them), (but) particularly Paul McCartney, collaborating with him on several projects”. “In 1968..McCartney asked Ginsberg to record something for The Beatles new record label Apple, and (he) later accompanied Ginsberg on the anti-war song “Ballad of the Skeletons”. Indeed, when McCartney was aspiring to be a poet (and subsequently became one, bringing out his first book, Blackbird Singing), it was Ginsberg he sought out to (advise him and to) critique his first efforts..”.
Here’s Ginsberg and McCartney singing the afore-mentioned “Ballad of the Skeletons”