I’ve known Ira for about 20 years. We’ve had a long running phone correspondence and have met from time to time in various situations—the most significant being the Gregory Corso sessions. Ira was visiting Gregory near the time of gregory’s death. Over the years, I had always dug Ira’s work and felt he embodied the spirit of our age—the quest for the sacred. As I mentioned elsewhere, I received some encouragement about the Paris Records catalog and began to look for ways to expand it. Ira has worked so tirelessly over the years and produced such high quality poetry that I flashed on him as someone I needed to include in the series.
Plus, Ralph Carney had done such a great job with the Creeley tapes that I figured What the hell—let’s do it again! Things started out a little weird. On the day that Ralph was flying to New York, Ira had a stroke, and was hospitalized in the Jewish Hospital uptown.
Even so, Ralph visited him there and recorded 4 poems: Holy Smoke, Amygdala, Visible Breath, and Dirge. Ralph and I began to refer to these takes as the Jewish Hospital tapes and used them on this disc. Ira’s good friend and collaborator Ira Landgarten then recorded the rest of the vocals later. Ralph composed incredible music back in San Francisco, and Jeff Mount and myself put it all together at Goodnight Dallas studio—late summer 06.
I love the warm and trippy feel of these sessions, but most of all the wisdom—hard earned from a lifetime of searching and poetic discipline. Ira Cohen: A REAL HEAVYWEIGHT!!
July 21, 2007