A Coney Island of the Mind

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Steve Klinge
Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti published A CONEY ISLAND OF THE MIND, his most celebrated collection, in 1955 at the height of the Beat Generation. He's still active with City Lights, his San Francisco bookstore and publishing house, and with poetry one of his recent poems appears in The Best American Poetry 1999. This new recording presents Ferlinghetti reading the 29 sections of the title work and five other poems also from the original collection, accompanied by music composed by Dana Colley, saxophonist of the boho-rock band Morphine. From poem to poem, Ferlinghetti varies his voice, using a conspiratorial whisper or a conversational singsong or a comic, exaggerated New ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Steve Klinge
Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti published A CONEY ISLAND OF THE MIND, his most celebrated collection, in 1955 at the height of the Beat Generation. He's still active with City Lights, his San Francisco bookstore and publishing house, and with poetry one of his recent poems appears in The Best American Poetry 1999. This new recording presents Ferlinghetti reading the 29 sections of the title work and five other poems also from the original collection, accompanied by music composed by Dana Colley, saxophonist of the boho-rock band Morphine. From poem to poem, Ferlinghetti varies his voice, using a conspiratorial whisper or a conversational singsong or a comic, exaggerated New York accent, while Colley's music stays simultaneously evocative and unobtrusive: the sax and organ base adds a film noir atmosphere but never competes with the poetry. Literature majors will recognize poems such as "Constantly risking absurdity" and "In Goya's greatest scenes" and be intrigued by Ferlinghetti's choice of voicings; everyone will hear compositions with comic insight and unexpected twists of beauty.
All Music Guide - Tom Schulte
Jim Sampas and producer extraordinaire David Greenberg Duplex Planet got together to right an unforgivable wrong in the beat poet discography. Before this release, there was no complete CD album of Ferlinghetti's 30-poem cycle, The Coney Island of the Mind. Musical accompaniment to the beat bard's spoken word is the surviving members of Morphine. Dana Colley is on the horns, and Billy Conway is on drums accompany the master wordsmith, with other musicians. Each piece has its own backing music, seeking affinity with its mood. Ferlinghetti similarly varies his voice for each short poem. At once he is a self-assured New "Yawker," then an austere commentator with a papery voice. It is natural to contrast Ferlinghetti's Coney Island with Ginsberg's Howl. Ferlinghetti's signature piece is also a perfect example of the beat literature. It is a union of sexual imagery and introspection into the soul of youthful America. Where Ginsberg is an evangelist, a visionary for his cause, Ferlinghetti effortlessly and without drama summons up his observations. While Ginsberg views a soulless and decadent America from a tenement rooftop, Ferlinghetti sees as far from a bus stop, from an afternoon delight in a Central Park bush. Five other pieces follow the complete cycle.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/14/1999
  • Label: Rykodisc
  • UPC: 014431040825
  • Catalog Number: 10408
  • Sales rank: 255,639

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Lawrence Ferlinghetti Primary Artist
Billy Conway Drums
Jerry Deupree Drums
John Sands Percussion
Technical Credits
Lawrence Ferlinghetti Poetry
Dana Colley Engineer
Jim Sampas Producer
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A Phony Island of the Mind

    Having had a fondness for Lawrence Ferlinghetti's poetry anthology ''A Coney Island of the Mind'' written during the heyday of the ''Beat Generation,'' I was shocked by this 1999 CD. Ferlinghetti has reduced his idiosyncratic poetry to silly parodies. It's as if he was trying to atone for having been playfully iconoclastic. The musical accompaniment is appropriately insipid. Fortunately, it serves to distract the listener from Ferlinghetti's tasteless performance. Anyone listening to these poems for the first time will come away with the impression that the Beats were nothing more than a pack of witless, goofy fools.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews