Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Steal softly through sunlight, steal softly through snow... R.I.P. Cap'n

First DIO, now Captain Beefheart?  What a bummer year for my heroes, and there's not many left.  I'm a week late in this, but life has been in my way.  Still, I'd rather be busy as hell and not have a good excuse for blogging, than have 16 new posts a day because I don't have a job.  The Captain is dead, long live the Captain.  I suppose there is no real reason to be sad.  Don Van Vliet was ailing privately and had been for decades now.  He had retired from music (and after what he went through, I would too... at least he had some kind of aptitude at something else.)  There isn't a unit of measurement large enough to demonstrate to you how much Captain Beefheart had upon my life.  Let's just put it this way:  My blogger "handle" (nothingwheel, part of the URL of this blog) is from the lyrics of the song "Steal Softly Through Snow."  I was BIG into Beefheart around the time I was becoming net-savvy and thinking up names for stuff.  As cliche as it is to talk about what an impact Trout Mask Replica had on me (It's always cooler to talk about how much more into Bluejeans And Moonbeams you are) the fact remains, it did.  He had as huge an impact on me as reading Vonnegut, looking at my first dirty magazine or the first time I ever heard Run DMC. Safe As Milk is his best album, hands down, but Trout Mask was my introduction and the last album I heard that TRULY blew my mind.  When you first start listening to music, EVERYTHING is something new and different, you pick a few favorites and move on to phase two, where you become a little more discerning. By the time you are 25, you have tastes that are uniquely yours and those primordial shocks are fewer and further between.  I was probably a little late in discovering Beefheart.  It was no rarity to find something good that you can listen to alot, but I was in that headspace where it was VERY rare to find something so new that it pushes everything else aside for awhile.  Beefheart took precedence over all other listening for about a year of my life while I decoded what exactly it was he was doing.  I read books, I listened to EVERYTHING, good albums, bad albums, crappy bootlegs, box set or otherwise.  At his best, Beefheart treated music as his canvas.  He used (abused) musicians like different paintbrushes, usually in completely unorthodox manners.   Trout Mask was the last trumpet blast in truly original art rock.  It came from nowhere.  Beefheart had a bastard vision, and short of the delta blues, (to quote Method Man) there was no father to his style.  His artistic children are, and will be many.  Hopefully my own will be included as I have foresworn to provide my betrothed with 2 pretty babies who will be dressed in Motorhead onesies and will know the lyrics to "Orange Claw Hammer" before they can write.

I'm not uploading anything, but I'm going to hijack a  link to Beefheart's lost (and brilliant) 1972 album "Lick My Decals Off, Baby" that a google search just brought up.  I usually don't do such a thing, but they posted both an MP3 and a lossless link and that is more than I can figure out how to do.  It's very much not in print and is is prized and highly sought after.  Here's hoping that Beefheart's passing puts some wheels into motion concerning a reissue of that album of great legend.  You can purchase it right now at Amazon for $298 if you feel so inclined, or $99 used.  If you do download it, please leave a comment on the beautiful noises blog.