"Captain Beefheart is the most important musician to rise in the Sixties, far more significant and far-reaching than The Beatles, who only made pretty collages with material from the public domain, when you get right down to it; as important, as I said, for all music as Ornette Coleman was for jazz ten years ago and Charlie Parker 15 years before that, as important as Leadbelly was for the blues Cap teethed on. His music is a harbinger of tomorrow, but his messages are universal and warm as the America we once dreamed of. That`s a combination that`s hard to beat." Lester Bangs
Poetry of the Mojave Desert *(Or Nothin` Makes Sense If You Need To Be Logical!)
This is not an introduction. You can move it to the middle or to the ending, I don`t care. Nor is it a description of what I`m about to write; that`s forbidden, Captain Beefheart wouldn`t approve of that. It is black and white, though. You can fill in the peripherals with every tonal from the rainbow color wheel; he`ll dig it! Yea, Lester`s right, Beefheart is more important to the History of Rock than even the Rock Gods themselves, The Beatles.
The problem is, not enough time has gone by yet, where Music Historians (or, if you will, Rock Historians), can meditate on Beefheart`s total opus, and give it the proper consideration, tender loving care, it so passionately deserves. If this means standing on your head while reading The Captain`s lyrics, and rotating an hour and eighteen minutes of concentrated Trout Mask Replica commotion, then that`s what you have to do. Will the double parred-down Rock Opera (Trout Mask Replica) ever go commercial and sell millions of copies?
I have faith that it will, but maybe not in my lifetime or yours. I broke it down, and dissected merely six songs, as if they were laboratory frogs in a high school biology class. I took the six songs seriously, as if they were paintings hanging in the Louvre, meant for billions of curious eyes, and for generations to come, not yet born, to pass by, ogle, then collect for a lifetime of memories and/or sacrosanct meditation, of the highest order known to man. Moreover, I never assumed I was getting it right on just one listen!
True Art has subtle shades of gray that reshape whatever interpretation we might apply to it. Art is chameleon-like, and changes hues every time we glance over at it (or hear the chimerical notes). A Carrot Is As Close is as pensive and surreal as Claude Debussey`s Sunken Cathedral, maybe more so. Run Paint Run has a massive amount of musical notes (& words) splattered on canvass with a stick, just like old Jackson Pollack use to do, just pouring paint out of a can!
Three Early Masterpieces
Abba Zaba, on Beefheart`s premiere album, Safe As Milk (released on the Buddah label in September of 1967), is the second song on side two, if you were playing it on a vinyl record back then (very few people were joining you, I might add). Apparently, the tune (written entirely by Don Van Vliet) is, on the surface, about a candy bar of the same name which a young Beefheart ate frequently when growing up in the Mohave desert.
...BECAUSE SOME OF US THINK THAT THIS STUFF IS IMPORTANT
What happens when you mix what is - arguably - the world's most interesting record company, with an anarchist manic-depressive rock music historian polymath, and a method of dissemination which means that a daily rock-music magazine can be almost instantaneous?
Most of this blog is related in some way to the music, books and films produced by Gonzo Multimedia, but the editor has a grasshopper mind and so also writes about all sorts of cultural issues which interest him, and which he hopes will interest you as well.