On the ride back from my company party tonight I listened to a rough demo of a new song I wrote a couple of weeks ago that attempts to touch on a fraction of the feeling I get from two of my favorite Captain Beefheart songs, the shattered glass blues of “Hothead” and the blow your speakers/blow your mind F-U of “Frownland.” In my humble songwriting efforts there are probably two dozen songs I try to draw power from, and while taking some pride in my latest efforts at internalizing these two songs I thought of the audio equivalent of time-lapsed nature photography of “Dirty Blue Gene,” my favorite Beefheart song ever. It was clear how much space Beefheart had cleared for my mind to run. Catching up with almost an entire day that I missed here in the Halls of Rock I have learned that Beefheart his died at 69 from complications from multiple sclerosis. Too bad. He was a great…artist.
Put this guy in the stupid Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame already. The world doesn’t need to pay any more attention to Neil Diamond. What can be learned from a closer look at his life, that he liked hash brownies? I’ve got no major beef with Tom Waits, but he’s no Beefheart. In fact, he wouldn’t be much of a Tom Waits if he hadn’t begun internalizing Beefheart beginning with Swordfishtrombones. This is not to dismiss his earlier albums, but it’s the Beefheart-influenced ones that cemented his reputation as an Artist and something more than the oddball of the LA singer-songwriter scene.
Hey, I really shouldn’t use Beefheart’s death to take shots and Diamond, Waits, et al. What I’d really like to do is celebrate the weird, driven musical world Beefheart created. Thanks for blowing open a clear spot in my mind.
Click here for an old post in which I tried to convince a friend who usually knows better that he should know better when it comes to the music of Captain Beefheart.
NEXT: Rock Town Hall’s Official Eulogy…