‘The Ballad of the Skeletons,’ Allen Ginsberg and Paul McCartney


Allen Ginsberg and Paul McCartney onstage together in 1995.

The new Bob Dylan and the Band boxed set, The Bootleg Series Vol. 11: The Basement Tapes Complete, has a playful song on it titled “See You Later Allen Ginsberg” (adapted from “See You Later Alligator”). But this isn’t the Newark-born, Paterson-raised poet’s first brush with rock royalty. He appeared ian the 1965 Dylan film “Don’t Look Back” (in the famous “Subterranean Homesick Blues” segment, in which Dylan holds up a succession of cue cards). And his 1996 recording of “The Ballad of the Skeletons” featured musical backing by Paul McCartney, among others.

He also performed “The Ballad of the Skeletons” with McCartney, live at The Royal Albert Hall in London, the previous year, with the ex-Beatle playing raunchy blues guitar riffs to complement Ginsberg’s playful protest lyrics. There is a good account of how this all came to be here. Check out the performance below.

Ginsberg, whose poems often referred to his Jersey roots, died in April 1997, at the age of 70.

According to some accounts, part of the inspiration behind the Beatles’ name was that it referred to beat (short for beatnik) movement of the 1950s and early 1960s, of which Ginsberg was one of the most prominent members.

New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday from Sept. 2014 to Sept. 2015. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, for almost a year — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. The complete list is here.


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