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***Captain Beefheart***

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this has been floating around the net for a while....

Captain Beefheart's Ten Commandments For Guitarists:

1. LISTEN TO THE BIRDS...That's where all the music comes from. Birds know everything about how it should sound and where that sound should come from. And watch hummingbirds. They fly really fast, but a lot of times they aren't going anywhere.

2. YOUR GUITAR IS NOT REALLY A GUITAR...Your guitar is a divining rod. Use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over. A guitar is also a fishing rod. If you're good, you'll land a big one.

3. PRACTICE IN FRONT OF A BUSH...Wait until the moon is out, then go outside, eat a multi-grained bread and play your guitar to a bush. If the bush doesn't shake, eat another piece of bread.

4. WALK WITH THE DEVIL...Old delta blues players referred to amplifiers as the "devil box." And they were right. You have to be an equal opportunity employer in terms of who you're bringing over from the other side. Electricity attracts demons and devils. Other instruments attract other spirits. An acoustic guitar attracts Casper. A mandolin attracts Wendy. But an electric guitar attracts Beelzebub.

5. IF YOU'RE GUILTY OF THINKING, YOU'RE OUT...If your brain is part of the process, you're missing it. You should play like a drowning man, struggling to reach shore. If you can trap that feeling, then you have something that is fur bearing.

6. NEVER POINT YOUR GUITAR AT ANYONE...Your instrument has more power than lightning. Just hit a big chord, then run outside to hear it. But make sure you are not standing in an open field.

7. ALWAYS CARRY YOUR CHURCH KEY...You must carry your key and use it when called upon. That's your part of the bargain. Like One String Sam. He was a Detroit street musician in the fifties who played a homemade instrument. His song "I Need A Hundred Dollars" is warm pie. Another church key holder is Hubert Sumlin, Howlin' Wolf's guitar player. He just stands there like the Statue of Liberty making you want to look up her dress to see how he's doing it.

8. DON'T WIPE THE SWEAT OFF YOUR INSTRUMENT...You need that stink on there. Then you have to get that stink onto your music.

9. KEEP YOUR GUITAR IN A DARK PLACE...When you're not playing your guitar, cover it and keep it in a dark place. If you don't play your guitar for more than a day, be sure to put a saucer of water in with it.

10. YOU GOTTA HAVE A HOOD FOR YOUR ENGINE...Wear a hat when you play and keep that hat on. A hat is a pressure cooker. If you have a roof on your house the hot air can't escape. Even a lima bean has to have a wet paper towel around it to make it grow.

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Has anyone else read the book by Bill Harkleroad (Zoot Horn Rollo)?

lunar.jpg

It gave me a different perspective on Beefheart. I am wondering if any members have first hand knowledge of anything in this book which is either accurate or inaccurate.

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Beefheart is a one trick pony, I must say again, so don't yell at me - and the trick is really not that interesting - he reminds me of a tired old hipster who doesn't realize that no one is listening any more - (yeah I know people are listening but that's not my point; I'm just saying what he SOUNDS like) -

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7/4 I'll save you the trouble -

LOWE IS FULL OF SHIT

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The Harkleroad book. from a musician who played with Beefheart for several years, provides a mixed review of Beefheart's musical talent. Beefheart's musical abilities were quite limited, according to Harkleroad.

To me, the book is a fascinating study in why a person with talent chooses to be a long-time follower of an authoritarian leader with less talent, while the leader is treating the subordinate poorly. I have seen the same thing happen in the business world and experienced the shock of recognition in reading Harkleroad's book.

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7/4 I'll save you the trouble -

LOWE IS FULL OF SHIT

I try not to hold it against you. :lol:

I like the Capt. I don't listen to him that much any more. Not like I used to.

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Beefheart is a one trick pony, I must say again, so don't yell at me - and the trick is really not that interesting - he reminds me of a tired old hipster who doesn't realize that no one is listening any more - (yeah I know people are listening but that's not my point; I'm just saying what he SOUNDS like) -

Well, from a commercial standpoint, no one was listening from day one.

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The Harkleroad book and the booklet to Grow Fins, taken together, are revelatory. They do pinpoint a certain cult aspect to the house/group that created Trout Mask. Lots of putdowns. From the Harkleroad book (p. 41): "When we weren't rehearsing, Don would subject us to long sessions of being 'brainwashed.'" Something must have been in the air there, since they lived not far from the Mansons.

It's all mysterious and fascinating. None of this would be interesting if it weren't for the end product, Trout Mask Replica, which I still consider amazing. Beefheart's talents are debatable, but I don't buy into that he was untalented. He had a sound, and it's no coincidence that his subsequent groups still sounded like him. It's obvious that John French was the straw boss. He forced the band to practice so intently, to get those sounds, and to play so precisely. The question that hovers in the air is "Why?" Why did they play that music, why did they devote so much time of their lives, why did they align themselves so with the Captain? Harkleroad doesn't have an answer. The closest he comes to is this (p. 39): "As time went on, it was clear the Trout Mask Replica material was pushing all the parameters. Certainly, it changed my feelings about music in a real positive way. Those tunes became really magical to my ears - they felt like a part of me. It was all so new and I felt I was participating in something that defied description. I remember wondering how I could possibly describe this to someone, 'What the hell do you call this?'"

In other words, he was participating in a magical experience. It must have been somewhat similar to playing in the Coltrane group that did Live In Japan. "What the hell do you call this?"

I don't think you can take that achievement away from Don. Say what you may, none of the subsequent efforts from Mallard, John French, etc., captured the magic again.

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I bought Bill Harkleroad's (Zoot Horn Rollo) solo CD from a few years ago, and emailed him at the email address in the CD packaging, telling him that I liked his book and the CD.

We then exchanged a series of emails in which he said that in retrospect, his time with Beefheart was dominated by emotional abuse, which he could not break away from when he was young as it had beaten him down and depressed him. He said that it was a very negative experience overall, one that had a long-lasting negative impact on him. I commented that I had a similar experience in business with a tyrant boss with a hot temper and nonsensical demands, when I was starting out. I could tell from Harkleroad's responses that he had, indeed, suffered significantly.

I do not view the "romantic mystique" of Beefheart and his music in the same way after that exchange.

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I wanted to share this:

Beefheartautographcr.jpg

I went to Ungano's, a small club on Manhattan's upper west side, in December 1970, to see a double-bill of the Captain and Ry Cooder. Tiny club. The Captain was in the lobby. He was in his stocky phase, looked like he did on the cover of Trout Mask (but not the hat; maybe a different hat, I don't remember). I was awestruck. I asked for an autograph, pulled a piece of paper out of my wallet. This is what he wrote.

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I wanted to share this:

Beefheartautographcr.jpg

I went to Ungano's, a small club on Manhattan's upper west side, in December 1970, to see a double-bill of the Captain and Ry Cooder. Tiny club. The Captain was in the lobby. He was in his stocky phase, looked like he did on the cover of Trout Mask (but not the hat; maybe a different hat, I don't remember). I was awestruck. I asked for an autograph, pulled a piece of paper out of my wallet. This is what he wrote.

That is so cool!

Gary Lucas signed my Grow Fins box. It just came out and we were sorta hanging out before he played a show at Downtown Music Gallery.

So there - ha!

dB

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Found this at work a couple weeks ago:

Program notes from a 7" reel, Radio Free Europe Romanian Language Service..

3269887153_3eaf28f31a_o.jpg

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I just realized it's 30 years since Trout Mask Replica was released. Warner should release a remastered 30th anniversary edition!

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What's happened to the Captain? The last I read was that he was living in the desert, suffering from some unspecified illness. Or did I dream that?

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Multiple Sclerosis.

I've been on a late-70s/early-80s Beefheart jag this summer. It's been nice.

Not gonna apologize for the man's behavior to others nor say he's the greatest mind since Ellington but shit, I got ears and I do listen...

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I've been on a late-70s/early-80s Beefheart jag this summer. It's been nice.

Not gonna apologize for the man's behavior to others nor say he's the greatest mind since Ellington but shit, I got ears and I do listen...

It hits the right spot.

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Last night, I listened to "Sugar 'N Spikes" from Grow Fins. Without the vocals, you can really hear the intricate writing and interplay among the musicians. That's real music.

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Indeed.

I was listening to Doc at the Radar Station the other night and my girlfriend was like "The B-52s and Devo must have listened to this a lot." I was like, "yes indeed, hon." And the thing is, a lot of those post-punk and new wave bands had come up on the Captain's 60s/70s recordings, too. When he reinvented the Magic Band around 1980, ironically it was along the lines of music he had already had a hand in influencing.

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Those final three albums grew in the arrangement dept. Brass horns other than sax, mellotron, synth....the music became even more colorful.

Time to dig 'em out and listen to them again!

Edited by 7/4

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Indeed.

I was listening to Doc at the Radar Station the other night and my girlfriend was like "The B-52s and Devo must have listened to this a lot." I was like, "yes indeed, hon." And the thing is, a lot of those post-punk and new wave bands had come up on the Captain's 60s/70s recordings, too. When he reinvented the Magic Band around 1980, ironically it was along the lines of music he had already had a hand in influencing.

I think that's what the tune Ashtray Heart was about...some grievance about the Punks either not crediting him properly, or watering down his concept, or whatever. "You used me like an ashtray heart...case of the punks!" But then Don seemed to have a lot of grievances.

To hear the Beefheart guitar concept with more propulsive, beat-oriented drumming, check out Gang Of Four. I especially liked their album Solid Gold.

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