Sunday, April 20, 2014

William Burroughs - Star Me Kitten & The Priest They Called Him

[Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth), Michael Stipe (REM) and William Burroughs]

[William Burroughs and Kurt Cobain] 

More Burroughs for the weekend - collaborations with Michael Stipe and Kurt Cobain (REM and Nirvana) - "Star Me Kitten" and "The Priest They Called Him".

Beginning with "Star Me.." (yes, "Star Me" - the allusion is to the Rolling Stones' "Starfucker" ("Star Star"). The source, is the 1996 collection,  "Songs in the Key of X - Music From And Inspired By "The X-Files") 

Burroughs: "All right. Just something I picked up. A knack of going along with someone else's song, putting myself into it. It evolved from "Lili Marlene", Marlene Dietrich, not one of my favorite people but, that's where it came from"

"He's got three for the price of one./Nothing's free but guarenteed for a lifetime's use./ I've changed the locks/and you can't have one/You, you know the other two./The breaks have worn so thin that you could hear -/ I hear them screeching through the door from your driveway./ Hey love, look into your glove-box heart./What is there for me inside? This love is tired./ I've changed the locks. Have I misplaced you?/ Have we lost our minds?/ Will this never end?/It could depend on your take./You. Me. We used to be on fire/ If keys are all that stand between,/Can I throw in the ring?/No gasoline./Just fuck me kitten./You are wild and I'm in your possession/Nothing's free so, fuck me kitten/I'm in your possession/So fuck me kitten."

The Kurt Cobain and William Burroughs connection is given, in some detail, here (and also here) - "The Priest They Called Him". Cobain, apparently, contacted his hero, Burroughs, in 1992, and sounded him out about the possibility of them, perhaps, doing something together. Burroughs sent him a tape of a reading he'd done of a short story, originally published in the early (19)70's in the collection, Exterminator. Cobain added some guitar backing, (based, loosely, on "Silent Night" and "To Anacreon in Heaven") and the piece was released (as a limited-edition 1o-inch EP picture disc - it was subsequently re-released on CD and 10-inch vinyl).

At the time of the collaboration, the two had not met. They met in October 1993, in Lawrence, Kansas, during the first week of Nirvana's "In Utero" tour. Burroughs describes the meeting: "I waited and Kurt got out with another man. Cobain was very shy, very polite and obviously enjoyed the fact that I wasn't awestruck at meeting him. There was something about him fragile and engagingly lost. He smoked cigarettes but didn't drink. There were no drugs. I never showed him my gun collection". 
In Charles Cross's biography of Cobain, Heavier than Heaven, there's a further revealing note concerning this brief encounter - "They chatted for several hours…As Kurt drove away, Burroughs remarked to his assistant (James Grauerholz), "There's something wrong with that boy; he frowns for no good reason". 

and here, as an extra, as a bonus, William S Burroughs and Gus Van Sant   


  1. no big deal, but it wasn't the Nevermind tour, it was In Utero and was about 6 months before the end of Cobain's life.

  2. thanks, John for spotting that. The correction's been made

  3. I bought that record when it came out. Perfect music for Halloween.