Tuesday, December 23, 2008

William S. Burroughs in Music.

William S. Burroughs is easily one of the most important writers of the twentieth century, friend and colleague of Allen Ginsberg & Jack Kerouac which comprise the Beat Generation of litterate's and poets, a group of singular influence. He is characterized by his ill-bred subject matter: drugs(most importantly heroin), homosexuality, guns, the dark corners of society and the innards of the soul. Some of his works include: Junky (an insiders guide to the life of a heroin addict), Queer, The Soft Machine(which inspired the band of the same name and the Soft Boys) and Naked Lunch his best known work which received a cinematic adaptation by David Cronenberg. I cannot stress his infamy enough. Here i've collected some of his musical endeavors:

Gus Van Sant & William Burroughs - The Elvis Of Letters

A collaboration between Burroughs and director and musician Gus Van Sant. Burroughs also appeared in Van Sant's movie Drugstore Cowboy. Van Sant plays drum machine, bass and guitar, while Burroughs reads four short pieces with his voice often being electronically manipulated.

William S. Burroughs - Dead City Radio

A collection of readings from many of his works, including Naked Lunch, Tornado Alley and The Cat Inside. Behind his low unmistakable voice lies the musical company of such fellows as John Cale, Donald Fagen of Steely Dan(a Naked Lunch reference) and Sonic Youth.

William S. Burroughs & The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy - Spare Ass Annie & Other Tales.

"Burroughs' dusty, sandpaper-dry readings from several of his works, including NOVA EXPRESS, are augmented with a combination of hip-hop tracks and found music, such as schmaltzy orchestral pop from the '50s, cheesy synthesizer versions of Bach airs, and Christmas carols."

William S. Burroughs & Kurt Cobain - The "Priest" They Called Him.

More readings, this time accompanied by Cobain's aural dissonance.

William S. Burroughs & Material - Seven Souls.

My personal favorite. A reading of his essay on the final death, the death of the soul and the super secretive purpose of the atom bomb, accompanied by Bill Laswell's musical genius.