Saturday, 18 December 2010

RIP Captain Beefheart

I don't normally post about the deaths of musicians; The last time was Jack Rose almost a year ago, because that was such a shock, and I was nearly moved enough by her death to write about Ari Up, but I don't feel as though I can let the Captain's passing go unmarked. Even though his music is surely the creation of a man understanding the finity of life it's still sad to hear that he died. The song above taking on a whole new meaning and poignancy, if it wasn't already there in the first place.

Of course I first heard Captain Beefheart at university, Electricity was the first song I heard and it claimed me immediately then the rest of Safe as Milk followed right on the heels of that. From there, I ate up Bat Chain Puller, The Spotlight Kid, and Ice Cream For Crow, consciously avoiding the big one.  Starting on Trout Mask Replica was something of a self appointed initiation ceremony into becoming a proper muso (or thereabouts). At first it was something of a dare to be subjected to it, but all that myth around it being an impossible listen just didn't materialise; it was a genuinely revelatory experience that was wholly enjoyable. Later listens totally blown out on trips probably wouldn't have met with Don's approval, but I maintain they helped me understand him and his music further, opened doors deeper into it and enhanced my appreciation of it. It took hallucinogenics to get me to the same state as his sober consciousness.

Second favourite Beefheart moment - the song Captain's Holiday on Bluejeans and Moonbeams.  It's some backing singers trilling "Oooh, Captain captain"; The Captain's not there, he's on holiday.

Things you can do, other than breaking out any of his records, to celebrate his life is take heed of these two things:  Read the ten solid gold commandments he gave to aspiring guitarists on WFMU last year, and Watch an awesome interview with Letterman from a few years ago.

Rest in Peace Don, you've earned it.

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