A spot of the usual 80s pop music research yesterday led me to Duran Duran and their “The Wild Boys” single (1984). First of all I’d never really noticed the indefinite article placed before the noun and adjective (“wild boys! wild boys!”), but most importantly I never knew that the song was based on a novel of the same name writtenby no less than Wiliam S Burroughs.
The idea for the song came from longtime Duran Duran video director Russell Mulcahy, who wanted to make a full-length feature film based on the surreal and sexual 1971 novel The Wild Boys: A Book Of The Dead by William S. Burroughs. He suggested that the band might create a modern soundtrack for the film ..
The film never materialised although Mulcahy did end up making a very elaborate and very expensive promo video for the Duran Duran track.
What’s even more interesting of course is what the Burrough’s novel is about. The Duran Duran video puts us in an apolocyptic, Mad Max style world of fire and violence but what about the “.. homosexual youth movement whose objective is the downfall of western civilisation” subject matter of the novel as mentioned in wiki? And what of the “allegory, fantasy, violence, drug taking and sex… teen boys engaging in gay sex, as well as a nun who dresses up as Christ, wearing a strap-on..” as mentioned by one amazon reviewer?
No wonder the source and inspiration for the Duran song which was to become an eighties classic was never really made public knowledge in those heady-mid 80s, albeit slightly prior to the AIDS scare. Imagine the reaction by the hoardes of screaming and adoring Durannies, not to mention the BBC and the public outcry which may have ensued had they known what the song was originally based on.
The Wild Boys: A Book of the Dead by William S. Burroughs is available on Penguin Modern Classics.
The Wild Boys by Duran Duran is available on Arena (1984), Greatest (1998) with the full-length 8-minute extended mix featuring on Strange Behaviour (1999).