He wanted to write Buddhist bubble-gum music

from a blog, On an Overgrown Path

‘For this we needed musicians, and Allen [Ginsberg] made contact with a Japanese tantric Buddhist sect, known for their choir and instrumentalists, who lived in San Francisco in an old house at 2362 Pine… They were called Kailas Shugendo (Yamabushi) and practiced fire-walking… The most active was a younger, more energetic cello-playing adept called Jigme, whose real name was Arthur Russell… Jigme… joined Jonathan Richman’s proto-punk band the The Modern Lovers. After this he became a central figure in the New York gay disco scene and made a number of disco records under his own name featuring his amplified cello under layers of echo and reverb which revolutionised dance music. Tracks like ‘Is It All Over My Face’ and ‘Go Bang’ became great favourites at Studio 54 of composers such as Philip Glass. Allen Ginsberg said, ‘He kept saying he wanted to write Buddhist bubble-gum music.’ Arthur died of AIDS in 1992.’

From the newly published In the Seventies, Adventures in the Counterculture by Barry Miles. Fellow blogger and KALW Music From Other Minds host Richard Friedman also gets a mention in the book, but not I hasten to add in connection with Jigme. And talking of Budhist bubble-gum music and Philip Glass, the soundtrack for this post is the Nonesuch recording of Glass’ Fifth Symphony – Requiem, Bardo and Nirmanakaaya. This symphony hits all the right buttons with its texts from the Rig Veda, Genesis, Qur’an, Rumi and Buddhist sutras. But despite this, I am afraid that for me Glass’ symphony lacks both the narrative structure and development needed to sustain its 90 minute length. But no problem at all with this incaranation.


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