DON'T ARGUE WITH THE CAPTAIN
history - interview
an interview with CAPTAIN BEEFHEART
elpee usa early 1971 REPRISE RECORDS pro 447 (side 1)
do you ever think of leaving the country?
do you mean the earth? you mean the country, the united states? i don't think they know i'm here now.
better not laugh too much if we want to get this on the radio... they're likely to get us for breathing with all our holes open.
isn't that true? isn't it though?
you know they're about to poke their genitals into our cream cheese moon right now? what do you think about that? that's my eye!
what do you mean: your eye?
the moon, it's part of me.
hmmm. i don't understand.
why don't they poke it in the sun, man? are they afraid to do that? they might get burned up, right? they're not very daring, are they?
what do you think about that?
err... if they would cut the nose off the rocket, you know, i think it would be a little more natural - do you know what i mean? if they could get up there without having the hole in the front closed up, i think that they would enjoy it more or i'd like them more - you know what i mean?
yeah. no, i don't.
of course you know what i mean... in other words: they don't come... and when they do come they're kidding themselves. i think we'll all be all right though, i have - errr - hope. i don't say i'll be all right.
do you really have hope?
oh yeah. i really do - to be perfectly truthful: about all the time.
how do you do it? i was just driving through and i was losing mine on the way.
well, i figure that if i'm breathing in and out, then i'm doing all i can. and if i'm doing all i can, that's all i can do - do you know what i mean?
yeah, do you really feel you are doing all you can?
yeah, all they will let me do. you see: i can't be bought. and believe me: i'm doing all i can do. because i won't lie; i just can't do it.
yeah, well that shows up in your music.
i think a lot of people have hope. you know what? i think the worry is that a lot of people are on the last line of communication... i mean: when you have to shoot a bullet at somebody just to say hello..., that's pretty weird, isn't it? it would be better if they gave them all boxing gloves. or shoes.
if they didn't give them 'why', i think they would be all right. don't you think the church did that? 'why' is a controller. i think that they're trying to put a square in a circle.
when do you think they'll find they can't?
a lot of people find it out on their death bed. it's still not too late. i think if we live we live, if we die we die.
have you always felt that way?
i die every time i breath in. and i live when i let out. i think if everybody cuts open all cleverness there would be no anxiety.
do you think people will ever be ready for that?
depending on whether they want to breathe with all their holes open...
don't you feel exasperated by the general level of people?
you can't even be responsible for yourself... so if you try to be responsible for everyone else, it blows you right into it. you can't breathe through someone else. or you're both contributing to it.
what about all these people who are trying to organize to make it change?
they remind me of a rabbit's foot on a key chain. that's all i can say. i mean, you never stop trying to start again. because if you stop playing...: you're dead. and when you're alive how can you be dead?
how do you keep it together if you don't think in terms of breaking things up in units?
hmmm. i guess i don't believe in three square meals. or a day.
you were brought up near the desert, is that true?
i was born in glendale, california. and i was a sculptor until i reached the age of thirteen. i was studying with agostinho rodrigues, from portugal. and my folks moved me to the mojave desert and told me that all artists were queers. and i couldn't get away because the police wouldn't let me. every time i had run away they would bring me back home again.
then i got in a fight the other day just trying to walk with all the transients in mojave, and i say transients only because they thought they were. i mean: transient is somebody who likes to go for a walk farther than somebody who is a resident. so the thing is: what's a resident? what's a residue? what's a reservoir? what's a resolution? what's a rhinoceros?... get the point? so the thing is that he's even been attacked because his horn is good medicine for sex, right? they grind up his horn, yeah? we're lucky they haven't found out about our teeth...
so, anyway, i finally was able to leave my folks... at eightteen, although you never really leave anybody: you're just not as near to them as you were before. so then i got down here and tried to do an album, then i tried to do another album. and then i just can't do an album because that's final, do you know what i mean? i like beads, not money... ha, just kidding.
how do you feel about the set-up with the music business? about getting your stuff out?
well, if it sits up, then it should start crawling. then it should just start walking, then it should start running. and then it should start knowing that it's doing that. i think it's a set-up... that doesn't want to walk or crawl. i wonder why all our musicians - like don cherry, john coltrane, charlie parker - all had to go to europe to be able to play?
that may be indicative. i know that somebody playing free music is not as commercial as a hamburger stand, but is it because you can eat a hamburger and see it? and hold it in your hand? and you can't do that to music. is it free to control?
didn't used to be.
i don't know, i didn't used to be here. i don't read books, because they're square. they don't go in very easy, and as they go in they are a controller because they have lines. i don't believe in straight lines either. or any lines. i believe in circles, and i have to believe that way or i would fall apart. if i thought that way and didn't believe i was being controlled, i would fall apart. and, you see, i don't believe there is a controller. or our controller.
do you think it's just being taught that way and believing that - and not realizing that it's not that way at all?
maybe. and do you know who taught me that? a flower! believe it or not, with a bug in the middle of it. watch out for flowers with bugs in the middle of them.
how do you feel about getting more of this information out to people?
i think that everybody is perfect when they're a baby - whatever that means... i'm just as serious as the rest of these people i don't think. i can't get very serious about funerals and anything like that.
apparently you don't like written words.
i really don't, but i think it's a good exercise for the fingers, isn't it? that's about it, i think. i think it stops you from doing other things. when you start to write something, it stops you seeing all around. when you focus your attention that much... - let's put it this way: i'm trying to do my own language without any periods. i like music i thínk better than words. do you?
note by teejo: this is the version of the interview which reprise records put out on (one side of) a 'not for sale' promotional elpee. as beefheart at the time of the moon landing was about to launch 'trout mask replica' for frank zappa's straight label, the promo must have been released when reprise started re-releasing it after he had signed to its mother company warner bros in 1971. besides this twenty-five minutes recording there also exists the taped version of the full 105 minutes...