Thursday, February 18, 2010
What can you say about William S. Burroughs?
The guy was a legend, a twisted freak whose literary voice was as singular and disturbing as just about anyone else in the game. Shit, the dude's actual voice was pretty fucking scary too.
Case in point: Dead City Radio, a 1990 release of recordings Burroughs made in the late 80's. Backed by a range of composers and performers including John Cale, Sonic Youth, Lenny Pickett, Donald Fagan and others, the soundscapes here range from jaunty 50's-nuclear-family cheeriness to groaning guitar feedback, all topped off by Burroughs' creaking, raspy monotone. We are treated to all manner of morbid weirdness: Excerpts about the Mugwumps from Naked Lunch, WSB reading from The Bible, pieces from his short story collection Tornado Alley, even a strangely touching piano-and-voice version of him slurring out the old standby "Falling In Love Again".... In German.
This is a recording I've had (and treasured) since my high school days. Just a freaky old dude with a tape recorder, reading his own stuff, spliced with weird music and sound effects. You'd have to be a real soulless dickwad to be unable to get into this one.
Personal favorites: The bit about the "evil piece of white shit" at the end of "Kill The Badger!" and the last paragraph of "Brion Gysin's All-Purpose Bedtime Story" (NOT included in the video below).
"Ah Pook Is Here", 1994 video piece by Philip Hunt. Audio is (mostly) track 4 from Dead City Radio, "Ah Pook The Destroyer / Brion Gysin's All-Purpose Bedtime Story" - words by WSB, music by John Cale.
Burroughs Biography Project