Between 1969 and 1971, Beat poet Allen Ginsberg took the poems of William Blake and set them to music – with musicians as diverse as Don Cherry, Elvin Jones, and Arthur Russell – Ginsberg recorded (with himself on lead vocals) dozens of these songs, some of which leaked out via an album on MGM in 1970 (making him label mates with the Velvet Underground). However, none of them have been properly issued on CD until now – and many have never been released in any form.

On behalf of the Ginsberg Estate, Omnivore Recordings releases a 2-CD set titled The Complete Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake, Tuned by Allen Ginsberg on June 23.

The Ginsberg Estate has supplied Aquarium Drunkard with an exclusive animated video of one of the songs – which is a feast for the eyes and ears – plus an excerpt of reissue producer Pat Thomas‘ liner notes to give you a taste of the wealth of influence. Everyone from Van Morrison to the Beatles to Jimmy Page was a fan of Ginsberg!


In his 2012 special New in Town, comedian John Mulaney begins a joke with the premise, “I was once on the phone with Blockbuster Video,” noting how “old-fashioned” that sentence sounds. “‘I was on the phone with Blockbuster Video’ — that’s like when your grandma would be like, ‘We’d all go play jacks down at the soda fountain,’ you’re like, ‘No one knows what you’re talking about, you idiot!'”

Speaking over the phone from his home in New York, Mulaney doesn’t balk at the term “anachronistic” when it comes to describing his sensibilities.

“I tend to like things that are a tick off the relevant chart,” he says. “Not by design — it just happens that way.”

Mulaney infuses his work with a love for less than current pop culture. Mulaney, his Fox sitcom, which ran for one season before being canceled, directly channeled the multi-camera format of Seinfeld and countless ’70s and ’80s programs. With his Broadway show Oh, Hello, Mulaney and fellow comedian Nick Kroll inhabit the roles of George St. Geegland and Gil Faizon, two Upper West Side guys straight out of a Woody Allen movie, who are as obsessed with Allan Alda and Philip Roth as they are generally unpleasant and disgusting. Whether writing for IFC’s Documentary Now! or performing stand-up, Mulaney draws on his often vintage interests to create hilarious and slightly askew comedy.

“What’s fun about that is that those things can inform my comedy and hopefully it doesn’t sound like something you just heard yesterday,” Mulaney says.

Recently, Mulaney took some time out away from his sold-out Kid Gorgeous stand-up tour to talk with Aquarium Drunkard. We discussed Oh, Hello, which will be available to stream on Netflix June 13, and his previous special, The Comeback Kid, available on compact disc and vinyl via Drag City Records June 16, explored his love of Steely Dan, and dug into his favorite music performances from his time writing for Saturday Night Live. Enjoy.

Aquarium Drunkard: I get the sense that you are a Steely Dan fan.

John Mulaney: I’m a huge Steely Dan fan.

AD: The band seems to come up a lot in your work, especially in regards to your Oh, Hello character. How did you get into Steely Dan?

John Mulaney: I got into them my senior year of college. In 2002, my roommate Kevin, who I lived with in college and then for five years in Brooklyn, we were driving to take a Sears family portrait. He and I and my other roommates were going to get a family portrait done, so we were driving there from D.C. to Virginia, and he put on Pretzel Logic, which he had just bought on CD. I heard “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number,” and was like, “Oh I’ve heard this song before. This is really good. Who is this?” He said, “It’s Steely Dan. ” I always thought of them as like the Doobie Brothers; I lumped them in with a lot of other groups.

That entire fall, we listened to that album. We had a lot of parties at our house and if we kind of wanted to put up a flag saying, “If you’re into this, you can stay,” we’d put on “Pretzel Logic,” the song. At some point in the night we’d get a little surly and it’d be like, “You all like our house, huh? Well do you like ‘Pretzel Logic?’ Because if you don’t you can leave, but if you like it we’re very happy to have you stay.” It was like, “How much of a buzzed loser do you want to be with us?” Then we got into Aja. It was really in steps. I remember that winter Kevin being like, “You have to hear ‘Time Out of Mind’ from Gaucho.” And that was like, “Whoa, this is nearly computerized jazz fusion. This is really getting into a type of music that one part of me wants to make fun of, but the other part of me loves so much.” So it’s always been very serious and totally kidding. But it’s very serious — I really love Steely Dan, but I also recognize that it’s synthy, poppy jazz fusion, and that’s very funny. I enjoy when people aren’t that into Steely Dan. I enjoy that almost as much as I enjoy talking to other Steely Dan fans.

AD: I saw Dead & Co. last night, and I think I have a similar feeling, in that I get why some people are not into this. But I genuinely loved it.

John Mulaney: The thing about Steely Dan, and also the Dead, and I would say Phish — we’re getting into a very controversial topic — is that they are funny. Those people like comedy a lot. Their lyrics are funny. They know they are funny and know what’s funny about their “lexical lunacies,” as Steely Dan would say. It’s kind of like being mad at a joke if you’re really mad at the music. At the same time, it’s not a joke and I know all three of those groups take it super-seriously.

2016 saw the return of filmmaker Jim Jarmusch on two separate fronts with the release of Patterson and his Stooges documentary, Gimme Danger. The latter is now on Netflix, so go ahead and queue it up.

In the meantime: if you haven’t caught the above Iggy Pop curio before, carve out fifteen minutes and do so. In short, having moved to NYC several years prior, a documentary film crew follows Iggy around his east village neighborhood just prior to the massive transformation the area would soon undergo once Giuliani took the reigns as mayor.

We have several copies of the Gimme Danger soundtrack (vinyl + the expanded CD version) and related goodies for a few readers. To enter, leave a comment with a link to your favorite Iggy/Stooges youtube ephemera. Winners contacted later this week via email.


In her new book, Riding With the Ghost, writer Erin Osmon accomplishes a tricky feat regarding the late Jason Molina, the songwriter and leader of Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. She presents Molina, whose work can so often mythic, as if carved from ancient stone, fully as a person, with faults, desires, humors, and failings. She doesn’t strip his songs of their mystery or allure, but rather illustrates the idiosyncratic and personal details that led to his remarkable words and melodies. In doing so, she gives us the gift of more fully knowing Molina, as well as his companions and friends, those who traveled alongside him through life.

Osmon grew up in southern Indiana, in a town called Evansville, situated on a bend in the Ohio River. She first discovered Molina’s music as a teenager. A friend’s older sibling had gone off to Indiana University, and a mixtape had made its way back to Osmon. On that cassette was a song called “Vanquisher (Cabwaylingo),”  from Songs: Ohia’s self-titled 1997 album, which Osmon colloquially refers to like many fans as “The Black Album.” Over acoustic guitar and banjo, Molina sang of survival and “greater former ghosts.”

“I was completely taken with it,” Osmon says. “It didn’t sound like anything I’d ever heard before…it sounded like it could have been from the ’20s or the current era, I had no idea, but I knew I wanted to hear more.”


“Our native soil draws all of us, by I know not what sweetness, and never allows us to forget,” wrote the poet Ovid, in exile from his native Rome in 8 A.D. The concept of “home” defines, molds and shapes us. On his third album, Greetings From Amarillo, Texas guitarist Hayden Pedigo writes about his hometown — tapping into the peculiarity that defines northernmost Texas, reflecting its flatness and its stark beauty.

“Amarillo is one of the strangest cities on the face of the Earth…” Pedigo says. “Greetings from Amarillo is a musical postcard but also an invitation to look around and spend some time in the audio rendering of the Texas Panhandle.”

As he did on his excellent 2014 sophomore album, Five Steps, Pedigo unites Takoma School influences like Robbie Basho and John Fahey with cosmic, avant-garde tapestries. While that album divided its primary modes on sides A and B respectively, here the two styles blend organically: the sprightly pastoral title track flows seamlessly into the drone of “Dark Heaven”; the delicate “Dream Plains” — almost akin to the new age-inflected sounds of the Windham Hill roster — gives way to the ecstatic, Popol Vuh-evoking “Welcome.”

Pedigo slyly insists that Greetings From Amarillo is in its own way a “country” album, and while there is a western twang to compositions like “Left Foot” and certain swing to “Buried Alive,” one gets the sense that he’s talking about country in the geological sense. “Sirens in the dust/Amarillo in the rain/Every distance so far away it might as well be California,” renegade cowboy poet Terry Allen reads as the album closes, and those vast distances serve as generative plains for Pedigo, open spaces to fill with imaginative melodies. words/j woodbury


It came from 1983 – “They Won’t Get Me” – the unlikely union of Italian electronic music pioneer Giorgio Moroder and Oklahoman honky-tonk hero, Roger Miller. No stranger to soundtrack work, Moroder was tasked with injecting some of his signature stile into the third installment of the Superman film series…you know, the one with Richard Pryor. The results are a delightfully bizarre mesh of electro-animatronic country & western that feels about a half a step away from The Rock-afire Explosion itself.

Roger Miller :: They Won’t Get Me


2015’s Fire on the Bayou was the debut album from 79rs Gang, the musical partnership between former rivals Big Chief Jermaine Bossier of the 7th Ward Creole Hunters and Big Chief Romeo Bougere of the 9th Ward Hunters. The Sinking City-released LP was an invigorating return to the early musical forms of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians, closer to the field recordings of Alan Lomax and Les Blank than the fully-formed 1970s releases from seminal groups like the Wild Tchoupitoulas or the Wild Magnolias. (Which is not to say those records are any less important. They are essential.) In the lead-up to our interview with Bossier last year, we compared it to the “humid exuberance” of Lightning and Thunder, the timeless LP that Big Chief Monk Boudreaux and the Golden Eagles recorded “live and in context” in the 80s at the H&R bar in the 2nd Ward.” In short; Fire on the Bayou was raw and transcendent.

“Dead and Gone / Wrong Part of Town” is the new single from Bossier, Bougere and the folks at Sinking City. As the title suggests, the A-side is a vivid tribute to the Mardi Gras Indians of days past. Bossier’s gritty baritone dances along a sparse, hair-raising groove, freely and passionately recalling the story of his Indian predecessors. Old-timers like Bougere’s own father, Big Chief Rudy, who he says paved the way for new groups like the 79rs Gang “to walk the streets and not get harassed…to wear these big, beautiful elaborate costumes and get recognized for who [they] are.” On the B-side, the beat continues, and the pair trade verses, alternately warning the listener to watch their step in the chiefs’ respective wards. That message isn’t always ceremonial. Towards the end of the song, Bougere pays respect to a young Indian peer lost in December of 2015 to gun violence. The 9th Ward Big Chief’s sweet alto carries a stark reminder; the New Orleans grit often comes at a cost. We should never take talent like his or Bossier’s for granted. words / j steele

Previously: Jermaine Bossier / 79rs Gang :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview