Skip to main content
A Magazine for

RUB OUT THE WORD

RUB OUT THE WORD

Take two notables of the New York arts scene - composer/musician Elliott Sharp and actor/director Steve Buscemi. Add the writings of one of the most infamous junkie misanthropes of American letters, William Burroughs. Give them a stage and some time, record the results, then treat the recordings in accordance with the infamous misanthrope's own creative praxis, which is to say, by cutting it up into chunks and sticking them together again.

And it's OK, I guess. I mean, I enjoyed it well enough. Droney sounds and noises with Burroughs prose over the top - what's not to like?

But there's a great deal of audio of the actual Burroughs reading his work already out there, plus his numerous collaborations with musicians (Tom Waits! Sonic Youth! Ministry!), and as much as Buscemi nails the man's distinct cadence and mannerisms in his performance, it's just not the real thing. Much as with his writing, when you've heard Burroughs speak once, you'll never mistake anyone else for him.

Of course, Burroughs is two decades dead, so live performances like Sharp and Buscemi's are as close as you're going to get to hearing the man speak in person, and Rub Out The Word likely makes a great souvenir of a thrilling and visceral live event. But for anyone other than completists and super fans, this is far from an essential purchase.

If you want to hear Burroughs but haven't yet done so, he's out there wandering the cut'n'paste interzones of the internet, a hungry ghost haunting the fibres. Go find him.

by Now Then Sheffield