Saturday 18 December 2010

Captain Beefheart Is Gone!

Don Van Vliet, Captain Beefheart, (January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010), died of "complications caused by multiple sclerosis".

It's no secret that Soubriquet has been a fan, somewhat, of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band since he first heard the scratchy voice and manic dark boogie, back one late night, listening to John Peel's radio show in 1969. Yes, 1969. 
Forward a few years, to 1973, and moving on to higher education, after a year of working... Ha! a gap year!
Anyway, here I was, a quiet, sensitive, shy (yes, shy, i really was shy), bookreading arty geek, and on arrival at college, and being allocated accommodation, I learned that i was expected to share a room. AAAAAARGH! Nobody'd mentioned that before! With a stranger! And me a very happy to be solitary person, the cat who walked alone?
I was shown to the room, I remember it well. CC3, it was.
A square room, two beds, two desks, built-in cabinets and a washbasin, stunning panoramic view from the windows.
And a large mound of a human. Bearded, lying on one bed, covered with a duffel coat, moaning about a headache. Oh god. Rugby boots! I've been put in with a sports creature. Me? I was a sports avoider. Muddy oafs kicking leather orbs were not my sort of people.
Later in the day, after I'd had a wander around the campus, I returned to the room and the creature stirred. I'd put my cassette player on the window ledge, and the bearded man-mountain asked what music I had.
I replied "You probably won't like it", and put on a cassette of Captain Beefheart, "Mirror Man".  
That was the moment that broke the ice. Duncan pulled a couple of bottles of beer out of his bag, I revealed a bottle of twelve-year-old Glenfiddich.
Dunc was a Beefheart fan too,  (and a glenfiddich fan), in fact we shared a lot of similar musical tastes, and became an unlikely seeming pair of best friends.
We're still friends now. There was a little awkwardness when I married his girlfriend, but hey, she's long gone and our friendship remains.

So Captain Beefheart, 
Saw him live in 1972, Leeds University, '73 oxford polytechnic, '74, New Theatre Oxford.
No more.

Seam Crooked Sam

The mule kicked off a new one
and the stockings ran up Seam Crooked Sam
bandana frock stuffed with smoke
and ears out flopped like bowlin' pins
hog troughs hocked and wallered in cool mud bins
and patent leather hooves
split in twos
rooms for rent down t' Ben's
Frendsa danced in a frenzy
choked a juke bird with froth glass ferns
and turpentine urns her sawdust daily keep
and whiskey creeps down her neck naked front
and red leatherette
peen button set where her fanny sweat
raised her wrist-a-fan and a mouse coughed cotton
through a screen door cracked sand
rooms rent only to friends
Hat Rack Hotel
architecture tincture of red Arkies pinched the southern belle
and splayed his cracked nail hand
grey fedora - snappy band
and the camel walls yelluh like damp dead chickens
beak down the hard wood floor
and the music - O the music
harp man blew his best lung white shirt
his feet worked like a monkey out the door
and Dora robbed a baby through a dark bebop
licorice lenses fogged in hot sorrow
through the floorboards at the general store
yuh foods still in the hot hand oven
apple pie cooked through a seed bruised stem eye
sticky in the window of Momma Frame Broke
rope bell dinglin'
"Children, I won't call yuh once more."

By the painter and poet once known as Captain Beefheart,
Who deserves more recognition as a poet.
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