David LeJeune

walking through the MFA show of Basquiat’s work several years ago brought back what a pain filled era the early ’80s was — so many people were dying ugly deaths – AIDS had no name – no one knew exactly what it was – how widespread it would be – so there was a free floating fear that everyone lived with – Reagan’s face was a constant – but it was also a vibrant time – a need to really live in the face of all that imminent and present death – especially in the arts – a life long friend who was then a member of my art family – (we had all met in San Francisco & come to NYC via Berlin & Munich) – Inez Newton – invited me to join in on a 1980 DIY recording project she had initiated – in a concrete basement room make shift studio – in the subterranean warren of such rooms beneath the Westbeth Building that fronted the Hudson River – a long established art building that then housed the Merce Cunnigham Dance Company – & was where Diane Arbus had her studio and had taken her life – it began with me being invited to add a short poem – to the start of one of the songs she recorded – all of this was done on a four track tape machine – which not everyone had then – I recorded several poems – the two presented here were both written & recorded all in a matter of days – Jonathan Beckestein was the guitar player & the recording engineer – another of the art family – Ron Morgan – joined us for one day’s session on my poems – including Cracked My Head – for that track everyone played an instrument they didn’t know how to play – the background vocalization were done by Inez, Ron & myself – the basic arrangements of both poems are mine – with inspired contributions from everyone – everything here was recorded spur of the moment first take – The Great Flesh Beast is an elegy for Jim Morrison – it was my immediate response to reading No One Gets Out of Here Alive – the first published biography of his life – the electronics on it are from a score that Jonathan already had – composed for a friend’s film – with his permission and help I cut it into sections and rearranged them for effect – the piano & other voice is Inez – a special thanks to Michael Dean for the transfer & clean up of the recordings – from cassette tapes to digital

a postscript for after The Great Flesh Beast

the introduction to The Great Flesh Beast was inspired by an incident I witnessed the night before it was recorded – awake in the living room of our Bleecker St apartment – in the wee hours I heard a loud screaming argument going on down in the street – I went to the window and looked down – on the street nine floors below – were two very intoxicated men going at each other verbally – by the time I saw them – the black man had his hands on the shoulders of the white man – and was yelled – “Don’t make me kill you” at him – he kept repeating that – I wondered if I should call the cops – but nothing was escalating – before I could decide – they hugged – evidently making up – and went off arm in arm – I immediately knew we had to use this in the next day’s session – my instructing to Inez – after relating what had happened – was simply to repeat that phrase as many ways as she could think of for the length of the opening electronic section

Cracked-My-Head-by-David-LeJeune

 

 

 

 

 

 


David LeJeune: “poetry and art have proven to be much more than a youthful rite of passage – & so became a bid for open minded sanity and a life long saving grace – & so manifested a life that has been as satisfying and surprising and enlightening as the best improbable fiction – grateful for a sense of destiny and gifts that allowed me to explore that unfolding – I have managed to make it to a fairly good tempered 65 years of aging – meeting the anklebiting guys instantly overcame my lifelong resistance to publishing – & so I find myself here – right where I belong.”