New William S. Burroughs Book Examines Writer’s Niche In Rock History

"William S. Burroughs and The Cult of Rock 'N' Roll" by Casey Rae. University of Texas Press. William S. Burroughs, the iconic Beat writer, was no rock-and-roll devotee, yet his influence on the art form is colossal. His use of the cut-up technique, whereby one rearranges and juxtaposes words to unlock new worlds of meaning, has influenced scores of songwriters, including Bob Dylan on the seminal albums Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited. Casey Rae, a media professor at Berklee College of Music and the current head of music licensing at SiriusXM, has examined the writer’s niche in rock history in a fascinating new book called William S. Burroughs And The Cult Of Rock ‘N’ Roll. We spoke with Rae about the book and a number of things Burroughsian. When did you get the idea to examine this aspect of Burroughs’ legacy? I’m from the ’80s and ’90s, in terms of my cultural awakening. I think it was probably the mid- to late-’80s when I first became aware of Burroughs and it was probably through Led Zeppelin, because I was reading the salacious biography Hammer Of The Gods, and there was a mention in there that Burroughs…

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