Dec 18, 2010

High voltage man kisses night to bring the light to those who need to hide their shadow-deed/ Seek electricity

Even Captain Beefheart's earliest music still sounds strange. Weird and experimental, deranged, mentally ill and freaking out and fantastic, even his early music, the stuff he did where you can still hear the sounds of what came before, where you can still hear him and his Magic Band as blues rock that's gone off-kilter careening, before the really critically acclaimed work, it still sounds that way. Like, What??? After more than 40 years.

I don't know whether to attribute that to a culture that doesn't appreciate art, regressive philistinan forces, etc. Or to Captain Beefheart's, aka Don Van Vliet's, incredible originality. Originality up to there.

People always say, when they write about Beefheart, that he's psychedelic blues or art house/post-punk music, the godfather of something, and his connection to Zappa and then on to Waits etc is clear, but it occurs to me that Beefheart most resembles and shares something with, not them, but Thelonius Monk. The illness and influenced art, the invention that's reinvention that's distortion that's interesting. The Americanness of a mind that's completely strange to America and so completely American, so you don't really which is the thing and which the fun house mirror reflection. He's like Monk, I think, most of all.

He's dead now. At 69. And may he rest in peace.

Links: An artist of "protean creation," Beefheart is dead, but then, he said, "I'm not even here," like he was a synthesis of the weird,or, as Lester Bangs said, a giant of music of the 20th century.