by Kieran Healy on August 25, 2003

At the risk of sounding like Eugene Volokh, and inspired by a post from John Quiggin, I can think of three bands who take their names from William Burroughs’ writings. Name them and be entered in a prize drawing for the paperback edition of The Best of Crooked Timber, vol 2.



Henry 08.25.03 at 1:27 am

Steely Dan, Naked Lunch and Nova Express?


Patrick Nielsen Hayden 08.25.03 at 2:05 am

I suspect one of them is Soft Machine.


Patrick Nielsen Hayden 08.25.03 at 2:06 am

And another is the Velvet Underground.


Patrick Nielsen Hayden 08.25.03 at 2:07 am

(Never mind that last–it turns out to be an incorrect urban legend. But I stand by Soft Machine.)


Paul Kelly 08.25.03 at 3:24 am

Heavy Metal Kids were an obscure band from the ’70s. So were The Insect Trust I believe. And someone already got The Soft Machine.


howard 08.25.03 at 3:38 am

the insect trust were actually from the late ’60s, and featured the writer Robert Palmer.


John 08.25.03 at 6:58 am

Steely Dan is definitely one.


Doug 08.25.03 at 9:03 am

With a little help from my friends at Google:

Combination of two William Burroughs novels, ‘Soft Machine’ and ‘Wild Boys’.

A dildo in the William Burroughs novel ‘Naked Lunch’. According to Burroughs, the first Steely Dan was a metal dildo that an evil German bulldyke prostitute crushed using her pussy, and the second Steely Dan is still in use.

Both from

MUGWUMPS – from a William Burroughs novel. Cass Elliot was in this band before the MAMAS AND POPPAS.

NAKED LUNCH – The title of the famous William Burroughs book.

SOFT BOYS – Combination of two William Burroughs novels, “Soft Machine” and “Wild Boys”.

SOFT MACHINE – The name of a William Burroughs novel.

These four from


Chris 08.25.03 at 9:14 am

To which we can add (again, thanks to Google)

Dead Fingers Talk


Port of Saints


john 08.25.03 at 6:19 pm

Also Nova Mob, Grant Hart’s post-Husker Du project. I was betting Steely Dan, Soft Machine, & Nova Mob as the three in mind.


AndyB 08.26.03 at 1:04 am

You forgot one. ‘Thin White Rope’

(A reference to sperm apparently.)


Steve 08.26.03 at 6:37 pm

Clem Snide too, though I think John has identified the three Kieran was thinking of.

(The Velvet Underground was a ’60s blue novel in the disguise of a sociological exploration of New York’s swinger and s&m scenes. I think it’s still in print thanks to the lingering interest on the part of the band’s fans.)


markus 08.26.03 at 10:49 pm

you mean there never was a band called “junky”?

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