Ira Cohen: Ornette Comes Home (1994)

 |   |  1 min read

Ira Cohen: Ornette Comes Home (1994)

The late poet/filmmaker and documentarian Ira Cohen (who died in April 2011 age 76), was one of those rare voices from that co-joining of the Beat Generation of the Fifties and the Sixties counter-culture.

He lived for many years in North Africa and India where he sampled the earthly and esoteric delights, and raised his consciousness through spiritual ceremonies and mind altering substances.

In the Sixties his famous Mylar Room (lined with distorted mirrors) became a place where the famous and famously out-of-it would hang out and have their photos taken, and his '68 film The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda (with a soundtrack by himself and drummer Angus Maclise of the early Velvet Underground) is considered one of the most seriously trippy films ever made (see clip).

Enter at your enjoyable peril, it is available on DVD.

ic7In '94 he released the album The Majoon Traveler (his debut!) on which he read some of his poems, some recorded in Marrakesh in '87, others as far back as '64 and one with Paul Bowles and Brion Gysin from '61 ("during this recording Farato the fire-eater drank a kettle of boiling water").

These pieces were edited by Cheb J Sabbah, some had music from Don Cherry, MacLise and others woven into the backdrop and on this piece there is a sample from Ornette Coleman's album Dancing in Your Head which featured the Master Musicians of Joujouka (aka Jajouka). It celebrates Coleman's acceptance by his hometown of Fort Worth where the short-lived Caravan of Dreams performance space was located and which Coleman opened.

I mention my visit to that place here.

Cohen was a free spirit in every good sense of that phrase and one of that generation who saw in hashish and psychedelic drugs a true, intellectual path to cosmic consciousness. His work across any number of disciplines is a journey of discovery, maybe this piece and the film will start you on a long strange and rewarding trip?

Get home safe. 

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory use the RSS feed for daily updates, and check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Del Shannon: Keep Searchin' (1964)

Del Shannon: Keep Searchin' (1964)

Del Shannon -- who died in 1990 age 55 -- is best and perhaps only remembered for the great chart-topping single Runaway of '61, even now a thrilling slice of energetic pop. But far from a... > Read more

Silk: Custody (1969)

Silk: Custody (1969)

As those who visit these pages know, Elsewhere often buys albums on the basis of their covers (see these articles on Shameful Record Covers I'm Proud to Own). Some of those were bought for... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

AUTHOR RICHARD PRICE ON CLOCKERS: The book, the movie and the money-go-round

AUTHOR RICHARD PRICE ON CLOCKERS: The book, the movie and the money-go-round

Richard Price barely has to open his mouth and you know where he’s from. The voice is direct with a “yeah, well” shoulder shrug delivery and nothin’s like, too exact, you... > Read more

A CRITIC INTERVIEWED (2004): Putting opinion in print

A CRITIC INTERVIEWED (2004): Putting opinion in print

A decade ago I was interviewed by Trevor Reekie of National Radio as part of his series about music writing and critics. I recently found the CD of it which he gave me -- the 30 minute... > Read more