captain beefheart electricity

history - interviewflits


from book usa 1970 ROCK BEYOND WOODSTOCK
by michael ross
is early 1970 interview


dada is a virgin microbe
dada is against the high cost of living
dada: a joint stock company for the exploitation of ideas
dada has 391 different attitudes and colors depending on the sex of the chairman
it transforms itself - affirms - simultaneously says the opposite - it doesn't matter - screams - goes fishing
dada is the chameleon of rapid, interested change
dada is against the future
dada is dead
dada is idiotic
hurrah for dada
dada is not a literary school roar
- tristan tzara

captain (don van vliet) beefheart's grating, atonal, alienating music is not really music. according to the captain, it's a feeling. and the feeling? frightened and frightening. a harsh physical sound, mirroring the perverse ambiguity of the age. beefheart has not lost his vision - it is the tíme which has run amok.

people put bandages on everything, do you know what i mean?

he stares at you hopefully, a large benevolent looking man who much resembles the young dylan thomas (english poet and writer - t.t.).

they even put bandages on things that aren't really wrong. like the land and the water, you know? my job is to take off the bandages. sometimes that hurts.

hurts who?

the few people who listen. i enjoy it myself. it's fun.

the captain is in the minority. and the lack of attention embitters him.

we've only played about twenty times in this country. in europe, audiences seem to understand us better.

captain beefheart / don van vliet - usa, early 1970 - picture by james roark
picture by james roark

that's more than he can say for frank zappa, who produced his latest elpee 'trout mask replica'.

our music put him to sleep. (beefheart claims at one point he didn't sleep for a year and a half). we had to wake frank up every time we wanted to record.

beefheart describes zappa as a 'foreigner' who can't understand and instead contents himself with being a pale plagiarizer of varese and stravinsky.

can you imagine that man struggling with varese? he smiles. wow. everything is such a joke anyway. you know, a long time ago, about a year or so, picasso (famous painter - t.t.) was at a conference and a reporter asked him what he thought of a painting by a monkey. picasso left the room, then came back and bit the man who asked the question. you wouldn't expect that of picasso. he's not an old prankster like dali or duchamp.

you would expect anything from beefheart. except, perhaps, that he cares a lot more than he would lead you to believe.

it's all here (he is pointing at a gold purse). do you understand?


i'm not really composing.... maybe you should say that i was inventing when i put my foot down, you know.... maybe these are inventions. pictorial living type inventive inventions. *

all words are obsolete, when it comes to feeling. i go into these words, or these words go into me, and somebody else writes them down.... i don't write them down: i record them on tape.... i think that's the best musical part of me - with the word-writing. part of my love - the other is the other. *

i don't think anybody needs drugs. i think if they need to, they need some bread. not money, bréad.... *

you know, i'm not even here. i just stick around for my friends. **

there are only forty people in the world and five of them are hamburgers. *

[cited from other interviews:
there are forty people in the world and five of them are hamburgers

** the odyssey of captain beefheart
 - t.t.]

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flits captain beefheart electricity
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