I never knew or heard of this before (maybe I’m not very trivia savvy when it comes to dead musicians): I recently discovered via an article on the William Burroughs site RealityStudio.org, that Kurt Cobain was a gigantic fan of the Iconoclast’s works. Cobain sent Burroughs a letter, in 93 I think, asking him to be the main character for his “Heart Shaped Box” video. Knowing he’d likely decline due to, well, being way to Burroughsian to appear in a music video, Kurt offered a deal to blur his face so that only the director, key grips, and Cobain himself (apparently Dave and Kris would never know either) would know which old man was actually behind the blur. Burroughs declined. Cobain’s friends, and probably Cobain himself, also wanted Burroughs in the “In Bloom” video years before, though never had the gall to ask the man. I thought this was interesting at the very least (though the writer, a Cobain bio writer – one of hundreds -, surely is biased in this case; and I don’t like the idea of him putting thoughts in Burroughs’ head):
“In Lawrence, meanwhile, William Burroughs sat poring over the lyric sheet of In Utero. There was surely poignancy in the sight of the eighty-year-old author, himself no stranger to tragedy, scouring Cobain’s songs for clues to his suicide. In the event he found only the “general despair” he had already noted during their one meeting. “The thing I remember about him is the deathly grey complexion of his cheeks. It wasn’t an act of will for Kurt to kill himself. As far as I was concerned, he was dead already.” Burroughs is one of those who feel Cobain “let down his family” and “demoralized the fans” by committing suicide.”
- Christopher Sandford, Kurt Cobain
Burroughs and Cobain actually worked together at one time. Though, from reading the article linked above, it’s clear they did this over many miles from their homes, and never met at this point. Strange they’d work together first, meet one another second. The project was a short EP called “The ‘Priest’ They Call Him” (with a quotation’ed “Priest”). It was a reading Burroughs did at his home in Kansas. The tapes and written content were shipped to Cobain in Washington, where he created eerie guitar accompaniment for the spoken word. Here’s a YouTube version, I couldn’t find an MP3 to stream.
And here’s a picture of Burroughs’ meeting with Cobain. Also: just 2 months before Kurt’s death, Burroughs sent him a letter and collage/mixed-media painting with a picture of Kurt in the middle.