by Josh Jones, Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2013/10/william-s-burroughs-sings-r-e-m-and-the-doors-backed-by-the-original-bands.html
Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness
The nineties saw a lot of alternative bands not only wear their
influences on their sleeves, but also bring them up on stage and into
William S. Burroughs was one such luminary, appearing on Tom
Waits’ 1993 The Black Rider, a collaboration with Kurt Cobain titled “Priest They Called Him,” and September Songs,
a 1997 Kurt Weill tribute album featuring the likes of PJ Harvey, Nick
Cave, Elvis Costello, and Lou Reed.
In 1996, Burroughs got together with
R.E.M. for a cover of their “Star Me Kitten” from ‘92’s Automatic for the People.
In the track above, hear Burroughs recite Michael Stipe’s lyrics over
the band’s instrumentation.
The recording comes from an album called Songs in the Key of X: Music From and Inspired By the X-Files,
which included Frank Black, Soul Coughing, Foo Fighters, and PM Dawn.
Burroughs introduces his rendition by citing a much more classical
source for his cabaret approach to the song: Marlene Dietrich. “Not one
of my favorite people,” he mumbles, dourly. See perhaps why.
Burroughs didn’t only work musically with contemporary alt bands in
the ’90s, and he had a long, illustrious recording career several
In a mash-up that brings together a band closer to
Burroughs’ prime, hear the beat writer’s rhythmic deadpan of Jim
Morrison’s “Is Everybody In?,” backed by the surviving Doors.
the original players, it’s still a very ‘90s production (though released
From a Doors tribute album called Stoned Immaculate,
the song sits, somewhat uncomfortably, next to covers and
interpretations by Stone Temple Pilots, The Cult, Creed, Smash Mouth,
Days of the New, and Train, and a bit cozier next to stalwarts like John
Lee Hooker, Exene Cervenka, and Bo Diddley.
Burroughs’ is the stand-out
track among many that also feature the Doors as a backing band,
although in an acid-jazz production - with samples of soul music and
Morrison himself - that may sound a bit dated.
But Burroughs is as dry as
ever, underlining the sheer creepiness of Morrison’s poetry in a tribute
that also highlights the debt Morrison owed him.