Disciplinary Procedure - William S. Burroughs

from the album Let Me Hang With You (2016)

William S. Burroughs stands alongside Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsburg, Herbert Huncke, and Lucien Carr on the Mount Rushmore of Beat Generation writers.

I began reading him in my mid-twenties, starting with his first novel (I have a special affinity for artist's first statement to the world), Junkie.  I enjoyed the book so much that I rolled straight into his second novel, Queer, and then his third, the masterpiece Naked Lunch.

Naked Lunch was a difficult book for me to initially consume.  The book is not written in a conventional - linear - form.  Instead, it is written using a cut-up technique that Burroughs learned from painter Brion Gysin, where Ginsberg cuts-up and rearranges passages and sentences that detail various drug-induced vignettes to form something truly original.

Naked Lunch predicted a dark future that included many things that would later come to bare, like AIDS, liposuction, and crack cocaine.  It was banned in Boston due to its passages on pedophilia and child murder.  A sex toy referenced in the book even became the inspiration for the band name Steely Dan.

Last month, Let Me Hang With You was released.  It is a spoken word album where Burroughs reads excerpts of Naked Lunch (recorded in the 1990s).  These passages are enhanced with a musical backdrop - performed by artists including King Khan and Bill Frisell - to create something of a modern Beat reading where the bongos are replaced with eclectic musical stylings.

My favorite track is titled Disciplinary Procedure, where Burroughs details a torture device called The Switchboard.  Aside from the dark subject, I dig this track for the music.  In my mind, it is perfectly suited for the reading with abrasive sounds matching the dental torture, violins plucked in staccato during the sexual passages, and climaxing in a free-form swing as he talks about "his grandmother's cunt."

It is all a bit weird, but gloriously weird.

Click Here to listen to Disciplinary Procedure.

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