“You look dandy in the sky but you don’t scare me.
‘Cause I got you here in my eye.”
Yesterday I had to explain to my 83-year-old Grandma who Captain Beefheart was. She said, “Well..I already know who Nick Cave is and I like him.” My Grandma is better than yours, for many reasons. Mainly this one. This is one of my favourites.
If something is strange; I’ll probably enjoy it. I just have a disposition to like things that are a bit mental really. I like mental people too. But the good kind. Not the kind who yell at stuff in the street and follow you home. I know they need love too, but my love is not for them. I know exactly who and what my love is for.
I really love mental music. I love music that makes me feel like I’m having an outer-body experience. I love music that makes me feel like I am being punched then hugged then swayed. Music that fucks you over with several feelings at once. I guess that’s what love is like? I’d say “I wouldn’t know.” But that’s unfair. My love for bands that are borderline insane is probably obsessive. I love bands such as The Orange Alabaster Mushroom to Frank Zappa. If it sounds strange, I’ll like it. If it looks strange, I’ll probably approach it. I should never go outside.
Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart in my mind was the greatest frontman of all time. His words, his demeanour, his everything was so enigmatic and captivating. I found his music on my own, I’m not sure how it happened but I developed a massive obsession. Thing is, I don’t think he is someone you can just stick on in the background. You can’t just play Safe As Milk in the background and go on about your daily routine. He made music that fucked up your soul and eased your mine. His lyrics were a strange form of seduction. His voice was not only distinctive, but so powerful. The strength he had in his voice just left you in awe. From the gnarly sounds in Dropout Boogie to the tenderness in I’m Glad.
Don was more than just a singer in one of the best bands ever. He was a TRUE artists. His fearless nature and his strange lyrics just made him someone you could relate to because you know what it’s like to be told “NO” but still want more, and to get what you want. The underdog is always refused because sometimes you’ve got to put an end to all the refusal you have been handed and do it your own way. If you do things your own way, then it feels better. Always.
Don’s work (art and music) was something (and still is) you could totally lose yourself in. Trout Mask Replica is one of the most enjoyable and strangest records I’ve ever heard. The songs are all over the place. Some may say the work of a mad man. I say it is the exposure of a genius. Safe As Milk is probably my favourite debut record of all time, and one of my favourite records of all time. His music gets you through. Not because you can relate to the lyrics. Half the time, I have no idea what is going on. But because I have no idea what is going on, I just love him even more. You don’t always need to relate. He just made you feel part of the strange, and you felt less strange.
You’ve got to keep people fast away from how weird you are, but keep your weird ways close at hand. Never let anyone tell you that you are wrong for being how you are. You get that vibe from listening to Captain Beefheart. I’m writing this listening to Trout Mask Replica, and I feel as if someone is entirely fucking with my mind. Not in a “someone’s going to get hurt, watch your heart” kind of way. Far from it. I can deal with this, this feels like a weird release. It’s been a long time coming.
Personally, there will never be another like Don. Everything about him was so rare and beautiful. He wasn’t scared to make music that wouldn’t be welcomed by all. He wasn’t afraid to do what he felt was right, you know? His fearless approach and his way of doing so is something that hardly any posses now. He was a rare soul, and one we must never ever forget.