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The Black Rider: The First One’s Always Free

The Black Rider

As we approach autumn, it’s good to remember some of the music and art that makes us feel like fall. Certain bits and pieces of culture can live in a particular season, in our minds, and the stories that go with them can stick with us forever. For instance:

So Tom Waits and William S. Burroughs were sitting at a bar–at least I would assume it was a bar, because it was Tom Waits and William S. Burroughs, right? Anyway, they were sitting at a bar, and one of them said to the other, “You know what’s weird?” And the other one said “I have absolutely no idea anymore.” And then the first one said “German Morality Fables.”

And if that’s not how the idea for Burroughs and Waits to co-create “The Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets” was originally born, then by god it’s the way it happened now.

[ad#longpost]You see, the content of this musical fable is so far in my wheelhouse, you can’t even see the street. That metaphor’s a bit mixed, but that’s only because I’m a little excited. The Black Rider is about a small woodland village wherein a young man is trying to make his way in the world and win the hand of his ladylove by impressing her huntsman father. But, you see, our young man is a writer, a scribe, a man of learned letters! As such, he’s a bit of a bad hunter. Actually, he “can’t hit for shit.” And then one day a traveling merchant comes to town and sets up shop at the nearest crossroads. Amongst this merchant’s wares are the finest, shiniest, most magical bullets our young man has ever seen. Yeah, I think you see where this is headed.

In the end it all becomes a sordid affair of murder, stark desire, and regret, but in the mean time the tale twists and turns, and we watch as the lives of the people in this town are turned around by this magical mystery man. And the whole thing is written by Tom freaking Waits and William damn Burroughs! What more do you need?!

Oh. Except maybe the ability to have the whole of the original German production, free to watch, right here:

Robert Wilson, Tom Waits & William S. Burroughs – The Black Rider (1992)

Also, more information about the production can be found there as well. A big hat tip goes to David Metcalfe for the heads-up.

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1 comment

  • Thanks for sharing this, Wolven!

    I watched the recording and it was well worth watching. Excellent cast, brilliant actor direction, and in spite some scenes being a little overlong, and the crossroads scene with Pegleg on the throne featured a song I could’ve done without, the humour and playfully expressionistic visuals combined with the great songs are a worthwile experience. Thanks again and keep it up! :-)