Monday, December 27, 2010


It is not with a little surprize and much sadness that I note the passing of Don Van Vliet, better know as Captain Beefheart, a musician and visual artist who threw brickbats at convention and challenged us to make some kind of curious sense of it all. My introduction to the Captain was his album Lick My Decals Off, Baby; it threw me for a loop initially, all jerky meter, stop and start guitar and bass parts that made arcane ourobourous knotted snakes negotiating each other, and the Captain's elastic extreme multi-octave voice that was drunk with expressive potential. I must admit to confusion, but I stuck with it until suddenly I experienced a state similar to "satori," a small awakening that somehow allowed me to make sense of it all; all the pieces fit; everything made sense! I was lucky enough to meet the Captain when he performed at My Father's Place in Roslyn, N.Y. in 1980. He was affable and charming, but clearly a man possessed by his own personal muse. He kissed my then wife Lorraine and autographed a scrap of paper(see above) for her. He then went on stage to perform songs from what was then his newest opus, Doc at the Radar Station. The Captain's mixture of blues, free-jazz, and his own eccentric take on reality, art-making, and dada have always made for a satisfying poetic musical banquet of the sort not heard since he "retired" to paint. He will be missed.

"Man is a baby that doesn't accept his natural function" Don Van Vliet

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