January 9, 2015

20,000 Vinyl LPs 33: Waiting for Godot - Samuel Beckett

2 vinyl LP album
cover photographer unknown
photo of album cover by Styrous®

I started the Vinyl LP series because I have over 20,000 albums I am selling; each blog entry is about an album from my collection. Inquire for more information here.

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A few days ago marked the 61st anniversary of the first performance of the ground-breaking existentialist play, Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett. It premiered on the 5th of January, 1953, in Paris.

Although I was not one, I was in college in the late 50's and interested in the beatnik scene because of jazz (see: Beemer link below). The coffee houses and art galleries with their poetry readings and jazz in North beach, the jazz bars in the Tenderloin and the Fillmore, etc., drew me to them like a moth to a flame (I was under age at the time but somehow managed to get in to the Blackhawk nightclub once where I heard Take Five for the first time performed by Cal Tjader). It was through one of these venues I heard about the Beckett play and I was curious.

I discovered the play had been recorded and released in 1956 by Columbia Records. I bought the album and was transfixed by it's absurdist theme and dismal view of the hopelessness of life.

 2 vinyl LP album
cover photographer unknown
photo of album cover by Styrous®

Liner notes from the album:
“The play, Waiting for Godot, seems to have baffled many - critics and audiences alike. As a result, and as is usually the case in theses matters, there has already been written a greater number of words about Waiting for Godot than there are in the play.”

2 vinyl LP album back
photo of album cover back by Styrous®

Waiting for Godot (/ˈɡɒdoʊ/ GOD-oh[1]) is an absurdist play by Samuel Beckett, in which two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, wait endlessly and in vain for the arrival of someone named Godot. Godot's absence, as well as numerous other aspects of the play, have led to many different interpretations since the play's 1953 premiere. It was voted "the most significant English language play of the 20th century". Waiting for Godot is Beckett's translation of his own original French version, En attendant Godot, and is subtitled (in English only) "a tragicomedy in two acts". The original French text was composed between 9 October 1948 and 29 January 1949. The première was on 5 January 1953 in the Théâtre de Babylone, Paris. The production was directed by Roger Blin, who also played the role of Pozzo.

 vinyl LP album back detail 
detail photo by Styrous®

The album was produced by Goddard Lieberson. 

Goddard Lieberson
photographer unknown 
 vinyl LP album back detail 
detail photo by Styrous®

It featured an introduction by William Saroyan. 

William Saroyan
photographer unknown 
 vinyl LP album back detail 
detail photo by Styrous®

The recording featured Bert Lahr (yep, the Cowardly Lion), E. G. Marshall, Kurt Kasznar, Alvin Epstein and Luchino Solito De Solis. 
 vinyl LP album back detail 
detail photo by Styrous®

 vinyl LP
detail photo by Styrous®

 vinyl LP label 
detail photo by Styrous®

Label: Columbia Masterworks - O2L 238
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP Box Set
Country: US
Released: 1956


Side One:
A     Act I (Beginning)     30:40
B     Act I (Conclusion)     29:22

Side Two: 
C     Act II (Beginning)     22:15
D     Act II (Conclusion)     23:30

I didn't see Godot until the early 60's; it was at the Encore Theater in 1962 when the American Premier was produced by The San Francisco Actor's Workshop Guild. Needless to say, like MANY other people, I was completely blown away. I had never seen anything like it before and never anything like it since. The production used, "Sound Blocks" by Morton Subotnick; I was in heaven.

Waiting For Godot 1963 program 
The San Francisco Actor's Workshop Guild 
photo by Styrous® 

The complete Waiting for Godot play can be heard on YouTube 
Music by Morton Subotnick can be heard on YouTube   
Anna McMullan review on The Telegraph   
More info on Godot on the University of Texas/Austin website  
Beemer Memories Pt. 1 ~ the end & the beginning  

Styrous® ~ January 8, 2015

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