Excerpt from Dance with the Devil: The Rolling Stones and Their Times, 1984
by Stanley Booth
In the early evening of the first day of spring 1970, I was at a flat in Duke Street St. James’s talking with Brion Gysin, who was in London visiting friends. Gysin had been telling me about taking Brian Jones to Joujouka to hear “the group of the Master Musicians. I’ve known them for twenty years, going up there since 1950, recognized that they are the people of Pan, and that’s another whole long story –“
We were interrupted by William Burroughs, who came in and sat down, wearing a hat and overcoat. He was the drunkest man I had seen since I had last seen Furry Lewis. Reduced in Burroughs’ presence as Keith was reduced by Chuck Berry, I found myself telling him about my prized copy of Big Table 1, with its first printing of parts of Naked Lunch.
“Oh, wow,” Burroughs said, seeming to awaken. “That’s a real collectors’ item.” His eyes narrowed. “They arenowquite valuable collectors’ items and y’know if you want to I could autograph it, and we would ah share“
“Make a little exchange,” Gysin said.
“Anything we could get on the collectors’ market.”
I rested easier then, because I knew I was talking to men who, like Furry Lewis, would burn a guitar for firewood. Burroughs began to grumble about not wanting to be an artist, just wanting to make money; I quoted Shaw to Goldwyn: The difference between us is that you care only about art and I care only about money.
“There you go,” Burroughs said. “No one who is an artist gives a shit about being an artist. They want to make a little money and have a little peace. Be an artist, indeed.” He was struggling to unload a layer of clothing.
“Take off your coat, William,” Gysin said. “There’s a good move.”
“At least I think I’ll take off my hat,” Burroughs said. He got to his feet, hung the hat on a rack, and sat back down. “Now I’ll take off my coat.”
“Excellent,” Gysin said. “I wonder if I can get back to Joujouka. I really would like to talk about Joujouka and what the music is and what Brian got on tape and how it ever happened that he got there. How does he appear in your book?”
“Brian? As well sort of as a little goat god, I suppose.”
“I have a wild tale which I’ll tell you about just that. A very funny thing happened up there. The setting was extremely theatrical in that we were sitting under a porch of a house made of wattles and mud. Very comfortable place, cushions were laid around like a little theatre, like the box of an old-fashioned theatre, and a performance was going on in the courtyard. And at one moment dinner obviously had to be somewhere in the offing, like about an hour away, everybody was just beginning to think about food and we had there acetylene lamps, giving a great very theatrical glow to the whole scene, rather like limelight used to be, a greenish-white sort of tone. And the most beautiful goat that anybody had ever seen — pure white — was suddenly led right across the scene, between Brian and Suki and Hamre and me, sitting on these cushions, kind of lying back, and the musicians out in the courtyard about ten feet away right in front of us, so quickly that for a moment hardly anybody realized at all what was happening, until Brian leapt to his feet, and he said, “That’s me!” and was pulled down and sort of subsided, and the music went on, and it went on for a few minutes like that, and moments lengthened in an hour, or two hours, or whatever it takes to get a great Moroccan dinner together, which sometimes can be three hours or four hours or five hours.“
“Long as it takes to kill a goat,” Burroughs said.
“And we were absolutely ravenous , when Brian realized he was eating that same white goat.
“How did he take that?”
“He said, ‘It’s like Communion.’”
“This is my body,” I said. “But Jesus didn’t eat himself, he fed the others.”
“If he’d been sensible, he’d have eaten Judas,” Burroughs said. “I’m gonna eat Graham Greene next time I see him. Gulp!”