The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

When Legends Gather #588


William Burroughs and Joe Strummer

20 comments :

Robert Fiore said...

Looks like Walter Winchell interviewing the newest rockabilly star and having no idea what to make of him.

H. P. L. said...

What a great picture! Wonder what they talked about.
I've been meaning to read something by Burroghs for years, but the usual fanboys-craze has always washed me away. Maybe the makers and the readers of the Gunslinger can offer a newbie some advice? Where to start?

Timmy said...

Listen to Patti Smith, Lovecraft...

Maureen said...

Kerouac.

Harry Snowden said...

I feel the sudden urge to run out and buy a sixpack...cancel my appointments...

Tom Sutpen said...

Robert:

To me Burroughs looks like the lead detective in the case, getting absolutely nowhere with the witness he's been stuck with interviewing.

I like some of Burroughs' writing, but I've never considered myself a fan of his (Saint Nick Tosches once wrote that Burroughs' greatest achievement was passing off his third-rate Science Fiction as literature for the ages). 'Naked Lunch' is generally regarded his masterwork; that's probably as good a place to start as any.

Gerard Saylor said...

I could care less for Burroughs. I consider Strummer a pop genius.

Vincet Ricardo ex CIA said...

Was this in Burrough's lower east side BUNKER? I'm guessing late seventies for this shot.
This is a good read if you are a Burroughs fan:

http://www.amazon.com/William-Burroughs-Report-Bunker/dp/0312147678/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1269641927&sr=1-1

Burrough is an acquired taste as a writer. But as a person, he is utterly fascinating.

Kimberly Lindbergs said...

I admire Burroughs a lot but his work is definitely not for everyone. You might consider starting with Junkie (or Junky), H.P. L. since it's one of his earliest books and semi-autobiographical. As Tom already said, Naked Lunch is considered his seminal work so you could also start there. Some of my other recommendations would be The Soft Machine, his anthologies like The Burroughs File and the collection of his letters written in 1945-59.

I also have a soft spot for The Last Words of Dutch Schultz. I happen to own an autographed copy of it that I stumbled on at a used bookshop in San Francisco. Apparently no one had noticed it was autographed and the price tag read $3 so naturally I bought it. When I brought it up to the counter the sales clerk almost fainted but she had to sell it to me as it was priced. I love happy accidents!

chainedandperfumed said...

I'm with Vincet on this one. His life story is wild---though a lot of his writing is pretty silly and certainly not for everyone. I read a lot of his work as a teenager and thinking of it now makes me cringe.

Having said that, I seem to remember liking that collection of letters that Kimberly mentioned quite a bit. If I had to read anything by him now, I'd choose that.

If for some reason I were forced to keep reading Burroughs after revisiting the letters, I'd go for Exterminator, a collection of short stories.

Trader said...

Although Burroughs is often associated with Kerouac - on a literary basis - I never found any links between them.

And I doubt they have been real close friends in the real life.

Sometimes, I wonder whether the Beat Generation was not just a self-promotion - thought over by Ginsberg - of some writers-to-become sharing only the fact they were from the same generation.

Kerouac's writing, in my humble opionion, has not much to do with the Burroughs' delirious and fragmented literary style.

Finally, I still remember what Henry Miller has said to Burroughs during an American writer association reunion.

- "Oh, it's you William Burroughs?" in an ironic voice.

Burroughs had no reply to that.

Mark said...

Too bad there isn't a recording of their conversation.

Fred said...

What I find amusing is that, for two counter-culture demi-gods, one was a trust fund baby, the other the well-tended child of career diplomats. Funny how things turn out.

Testify said...

A meeting of the appallingly over rated!

Richard Gibson said...

I always rememeber that Testify is not a Clash fan. Your comment brought a smile to my face as did the one from Fred.

I like 'Towers Open Fire' and I have a bunch of CD's here. I can't say I listen to them often but I do like hearing his voice.

Trader said...

To Mark,

The quote was reported as such in an official Burroughs biography.

Ted Morgan. Literary Oultaw (if my memory isn't wrong)...

Maureen said...

Isn't the crazy gun toting junkie named Bull in Kerouac's books him?

Pins and said...

Counterculture on the same wicker Breuer chair that was at every kitchen table in suburbia.

JimmySlattery said...

Fred - Burroughs was not a trust fund baby; if anything, he would be classed a remittance man, as the family paid him a small monthly sum to say the hell away from them. They did not share in the Burroughs adding machine fortune ...

steves said...

burroze: what an overrated hyped-up paranoid son of billionaire chained and doped to a typewriter.
how eminently forgettable, the clash; splendifferous after spliffing, but dated like used toilet paper. heard them muzaked in the supermarkedt yesterday.
"culture", put down the gun... kiss your ass goodbye