William Burroughs’ Let Me Hang You to be Released 19 Years After Author’s Death

let me hang you

Videos by American Songwriter

57 years after the publication of William S. Burroughs’ seminal novel Naked Lunch, and 19 years after the death of the legendary writer, Let Me Hang You, a compilation of Burroughs reading the most outrageous sections of the book set to experimental music, is slated for a July 17 release. At the end of his life, Burroughs recorded himself reading sections of the book, particularly those most explicitly dealing with the drug use and sexual debauchery which characterize the novel, in varying voices. The project, led by Hal Willner and James Grauerholz and featuring music by Bill Frisell, Wayne Horvitz and Eyvind Kang, was unfortunately swept under the rug for decades.

In 2015, producer Hal Willner unearthed the recordings which would eventually be Let Me Hang You, calling on the help of experimental punk and soul artist King Khan. Australian garage-punk band Frowning Clouds and vocalist M. Lamar also contributed, expanding on the unsettling nature of the musical accompaniment previously recorded by Frisell and others. Willner and Khan, linked by their previous collaboration with late artist Lou Reed, found comfort after Reed’s 2013 death by pursuing this project and honoring Burroughs, considered by many as a leading figure in paving the way for punk culture.

Now marketed as a “pychedelic spoken word,” the project released by Khannibalism/Ernest Jenning Record Co. will feature the excerpts of Naked Lunch in pop-song length tracks. Let Me Hang You pays tribute to Burrough’s fight against censorship, as a man who ignored limitations of traditional sexuality and narrative, and who influenced many as a primary figure of the Beat Generation.

Preorders for Let Me Hang You are available here.

Song Premiere: Robert Ellis, “The High Road”