My Photo

the pioneer of Dylan Studies; writer, public speaker, critic; became a Doctor of Letters in 2015 (awarded by the University of York, UK)

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]

Follow 1michaelgray1 on Twitter

Saturday, December 18, 2010


I know there's no real Dylan connection here but I'm saddened to have learnt a few minutes ago of Captain Beefheart's death yesterday. He was an extraordinary artist by any standards, and also a major figure in the career of Frank Zappa. See


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Top 14 reasons The Captain was genius

11:28 pm  
Anonymous Barney Hoskyns said...

We all knew it was on the cards. Hadn't been well for aeons and amazing he lasted this long. RBP [Rock's Back Pages] will pay its tribute in tomorrow's "edition".

Don was one of the most extraordinary figures ever thrown up by the underground rock scene. Like Matt Groening, I'm genuinely perplexed by those who find TROUT MASK et al unlistenable. Almost everything from SAFE AS MILK to CLEAR SPOT is thrilling, and then of course there are subsequent triumphs with DOC AT THE RADAR STATION and more. Fast and bulbous! Also, a tin teardop...

5:01 pm  
Anonymous Michael Pearson-Smith said...

I grew up in England in the 'sixties where the good Captain was first heard on John Peel's "Perfumed Garden" - the groundbreaking all night show on offshore pirate ship Radio London in the spring and summer of '67. When the pirates were sunk Peel remained the Magic Band's number one, indeed only, publicist and just about every edition of "Top Gear' on BBC Radio 1 contained at least one Beefheartian delight.

Every contemporary music buff with a collection of maybe thousands of LP's and CD's can point to just a couple of albums that "changed their life". For me, there were two that I can say truly altered my state of consciousness and set my life on a different course. They were "Electric Music for the Mind and Body" by Country Joe & the Fish, and Captain Beefheart's "Safe as Milk". From that point on I bought all his releases the moment they hit the shops.

When I had my own radio show on CFMU FM in Hamilton, Ontario in the mid-late 70's I was by this time pioneering punk and new wave music on the Canadian airwaves, but the Beefheart albums continued to fit right in and never sounded dated. In fact those recordings still sound fresh thirty-odd years later in 2010.

I was fortunate to witness the Magic Band play live on two occasions, with the concert at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester in the spring of '72 being one of the most memorable experiences of my life. It was the only time my eardrums were ever seriously challenged by the sheer power of a voice. After that night I finally understood the legend of how the Captain reputedly managed to blow several microphones while recording "Electricity".

Don Van Vliet was a totally unique talent whose special contribution to the cultural heritage of humanity will endure forever. May he rest in peace.

2:36 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



8:47 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob Dylan and Captain Beefheart

While Van Vliet was most closely associated with Frank Zappa, there have been some instances of similarities between Dylan and Beefheart's over the years.

Both artists changed their names early in their career. Dylan and Beefheart were both musicians and visual artists. Dylan has been listed as an influence on Beefheart, and some articles have even listed Beefheart as an influence on Dylan, although that would be harder to prove.

On Theme Time Radio Hour, Dylan played two Beefheart tracks. For the "More Trains" episode, "Click Clack" was used. After talking about Neil Young's association with Lionel Trains, Dylan had this to say:

Here's a song I bet Neil loves, by a guy a lot of people think is way out - Captain Beefheart. His roots can be traced back to Howlin' Wolf and Louis Armstrong, as you can hear from this record "Click Clack".

After playing the track, Dylan has Simpsons creator Matt Groening explain the importance of Beefheart.

For "Birds", after Mel Blanc's "Daffy's Rhapsody", Dylan played "Ice Cream For Crow". Here's Dylan's introduction:

Mel Blanc did a million voices, but our next artist just did one, but it's heck of a voice. Don Van Vliet was born in Glendale, California. He stopped performing in the 80's and focused on his painting. He was a really good painter, but I wish he made more records. This song is about a frozen treat, and a corvid. Wanna know what a corvid it? It's a type of bird. Crows, ravens, jays, and magpies are all corvids, and they are some of the most intelligent of all the birds. Here’s a song that goes as straight as the crow flies.

Here's what the Captain had to say about Bob Dylan over the years:

So what kind of rock 'n' roll do you like these days then, Don?

Oh, I like that Stylistics' record 'Betcha Bye Golly Gee Whiz': that is a great, great song. Also the Stories' 'Brother-Louie'. Also, I really like Dylan's new album. I mean, I think that is the most representative Dylan album there is. You know that song 'I'll Be Your Baby Tonight'? Incredible. Really advanced music. (1974)

What sort of music do you listen to these days?

I don't listen to nothin' - I don't need to. Bob Dylan impresses me about as much as.. well, I was gonna say a slug but I like slugs. 'You gotta serve somebody' - s---, trash poetry. Too much LSD. You know, they usually do that - they go right up to Jesus. What about Buddha? He seems like a lot more fun. (Circa 1980)

Dylan and Beefheart songs have appeared on a couple of the same compilations, including the 2003 benefit album, Where We Live: Stand For What You Stand, and more famously on the soundtrack for the Big Lebowski, which contained the Clear Spot version of "Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles".

Side notes:

Two of Dylan's friends, Jack White and Tom Waits, are big Beefheart fans.

One of White's bands, the White Stripes, recorded a limited edition single featuring Beefheart covers, while White, accompanied by Dead Weather co-member Alison Mosshart, visited Beefheart's childhood home last summer. Similarly, Dylan visited the homes of John Lennon and Neil Young in recent years.

Tom Waits' career took a sharp turn when his wife turned him on to Beefheart. In 2005, Waits listed "his 20 most cherished albums of all time." Number six was Dylan and The Band's Basement Tapes, while Trout Mask Replica took the third spot.

Ry Cooder played on the first Captain Beefheart album, 1967's Safe As Milk. Cooder has played with Dylan on a number of occasions, including the finales during the three night "Great Music Experience Countdown" in Nara, Japan, from 1994, and last year's appearance on The People Speak.

Bob Dylan approached Frank Zappa to produce his 1983 album, Infidels.

11:46 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi I have always loved The Captain, and I was very sad to hear of his passing.
This is one of my favorite Beefheart moments, maybe will not appeal to Beefheart fans, however it seems apt for this time of year

And I love the short Dylan style harp right at the end ?
RIP Captain Beefheart

1:28 pm  
Anonymous VinnieNYC said...

My connection to Captain Beefheart and Bob Dylan is that they are the two most important American artists in my life. I once told Beefheart that I could listen to Dylan more than I could to him, he wasn't happy about that but I think he understood why. I'm sure even Bob was influenced in some way by Don.

9:44 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home