Talk about some shitty news.
Friday, December 17th I received a late night text from my good friend
Mr. Brown alerting me to the fact that Don Van Vliet, aka Captain
Beefheart, had died. I had just finished watching Darren Arronofsky’s
complete mindfuck masterpiece Black Swan and was a little bit
intoxicated – in other words my brain was a little turvy-topsy to begin with. And
If you’ve ever received an unexpected message relating the death of a
relative or friend, someone who maybe you’d not seen in a while but
loved and was just happy were out there, going about and living their life, being themselves, you might know the feeling that
braced me when I heard the news. I’d never met Don Van Vliet; other than my yearly rabid bout with Trout Mask Replica about six months ago he’d not
particularly even been on my mind in a while. However, Captain Beefheart
is one of those artists who is never far from the thoughts of those of
us who consider music something more than a mere commodity or
Trout Mask Replica – it’s not for everybody (none of Vliet’s music is) but like it or hate it there’s one thing no one can argue – there is nothing else out there like it. Sure, bands like US Maple, Tom Waits and yes, even one time producer of Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band Frank Zappa all bear the mark of Van Vliet’s influence, but nothing before or after Beefheart’s musical run sounds anything like his music: it is 100% pure and 100% unique, and that is a marvel and a miracle in my opinion.
I’ll never forget the first time I heard Van Vliet’s music; my early teens or mid-twenties and my friend Jake showed up with a bag of weed and Beefheart’s Lick My Decals Off, Baby.
What a night.
The reports I read say Van Vliet died in his home, with his wife of over forty years by his side. I won’t babble on, I’ll just say that to his family I wish my condolences and to his absence I say you’ll never be replaced.
What a great time this would be to die because it’s gotta be Tropical Hot Dog Night in heaven now baby. Gotta be.