Let’s Cut the Crap With Neil Diamond, Tom Waits, et al: Put Captain Beefheart in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame
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…
Al called me earlier this evening with this sad news. I think that Beefheart’s been seriously debilitated by MS for a long time, in the neighborhood of 20 years and though I’m sad he’s gone, it’s as if he’s been long gone. I again need to recommend the John French book, Through the Eyes of Magic, that dies a magnificent job of really laying out how the Beefheart thing was created. It was not only Don, but a long line of dedicated, gifted musicians that went down the rabbit hole into Blunderland and created a monument to human achievement nearly as mysterious as the pyramids.
He WAS a great…man.
Yes, it’s amazing he lived as long as he did. He put all he had into his art. I read French’s book too, and I’m reminded of this from Bob Dylan’s song about Lenny Bruce:
Maybe he had some problems
Maybe some things that he couldn’t work out
But he sure was funny, and he sure told the truth
And he knew what he was talking about
His spirit lives on and on.
I wanted to post the link to this story of a Beefheart performance right after John Lennon’s death.
I was there and though, as usual, Beefheart was viewing himself as the center of the universe, it was really moving.
De mortuis nil nisi bonum, and all that, so Requiescat in pace.