First Blues: Rags, Ballads & Harmonium Songs 1971-74
New York: Full Court Press, 1975.
8vo.; 74pp; gray cloth stamped in silver; printed pink dust-jacket; minor sunning to spine and light wear to spine ends; near fine.
First edition. Signed on the title page by Allen Ginsberg with exhibition postcard laid in and ink annotations on pages 50, 59 and 60. On the dedication page, Ginsberg dedicates this book to “Minstrel Guruji Bob Dylan.” The postcard laid in is for the 1976 exhibition held at Off the Wall in Cambridge, MA, “Allen Ginsberg and his Friends.” The reproduced image on the postcard is titled “The Music Lesson” and it shows Bob Dylan teaching Ginsberg how to play the guitar.
In First Blues, Ginsberg explores the fusion of poetry and music. Called a "venerated bard of resistance" Ginsberg sought "how the raw mind actually works" through poetry. In the recorded version, Ginsberg accompanies himself with a small hand-pumped harmonium from India, occasionally adding his own guttural rhythms reminiscent of Dadaist sound-poetry, while other songs, such as "Bus Ride Ballad Road to Suva", echo folk ballads from yesteryear.