Friday, November 23, 2012

for Captain Beefheart, a.k.a. Don van Vliet

i wrote this for another now-defunct blog
after hearing of the death of Don van Vliet...

the real Captain America

has left the building. 

Captain Beefheart
was a nom de plume used
by the closest thing white rock music ever had
to a true shaman.

A man with more gris-gris than Mac Rebennack,
and more poetry than Jim Morrison,
who was more far out than Mercury
or that other Morrison,
or Morrisey.

He spent more of his life living in remote areas
and painting than being a rock star, which if you
go by sales, he never really

mutually useful but volatile.

Typically a Beefheart album might do 50 to 60,000 units.
His sales volumes may have been low, but his demographics
were something else.

His audience included Jerzy Kosinski, Igor Stravinsky, Charles Mingus,
Miles Davis, Pharoah Sanders, Woody Allen, John Lydon,
Joe Strummer, Devo, Pere Ubu, Tom Waits, Matt Groening,
Nick Cave, Franz Ferdinand, Oasis, Red Hot Chilli Peppers
and The White Stripes

...and 50 to 60,000 others.

Beefheart was a one-namer before Madonna
could cross the street
by herself.

"If it had been produced by any professional,
famous producer," Zappa said later,
"there could have been a number
of suicides involved."

"Once you've heard Beefheart, it's hard to wash him
out of your clothes. It stains, like coffee or blood."

Tom Waits

'all roads lead to coca-cola'
Don van Vliet

His singular musical journey mixed delta blues, psychedelia,
free jazz and poetry into something new and magical.

He taught himself to play soprano sax, bass clarinet,
harmonica, guitar, piano, and even the mellotron.

His vocals spanned seven and a half octaves

His imagination spanned the universe.



I look at her and she looks at me
In her eyes I see the sea
I can't see what she sees in a man like me
She says she loves me

Her eyes
Her eyes
Her eyes are a blue million miles

Her eyes are a blue million miles 
Don van Vliet 1972

Fast goes fast
Slow goes slow
Rich are rich and the po' are po'
Everybody's doing the Low Yo Yo Yo Yo
Everybody's doing it
Deep down everybody knows they should
Do the Low Yo Yo Yo Yo

Low Yo Yo Stuff   Don van Vliet 1972

Interestingly, 50 to 60,000 is also about the number
of US dollars you would need to buy a painting
or two of his now.

Funny business, art.

You used me like an ashtray heart
Right from the start
Case of the punks
Another day, another way
Somebody's had too much to think
Open up another case of the punks
Each pillow is touted like a rock
The mother / father figure
Somebody's had too much to think
Send your mother home your navel

Ashtray Heart   
Don van Vliet  1980

i told my mother - she showed it to me not too long ago,
in this baby book in that horrible palmer penmanship
method of writing that she used...
on this old yellow piece of paper it's written out,
that if she would stay on one side of the room
and i would stay on the other, that we would
be friends the rest of our life.

Don van Vliet

i met Aldous Huxley. i sold him a vacuum cleaner.
i said: 'i assure you, sir, this thing sucks!'.
he bought everything in my car.
i was selling electrolux vacuum cleaners.
i quit right after that - probably some time before 1959.

Don van Vliet

stars are matter
we are matter
but it doesn't matter.

Don van Vliet

January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010
after a long battle with multiple sclerosis.

Love over gold.

Don Van Vliet

the Captain Beefheart Radio Station



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