Captain Beefheart, cut up poetry and the inevitability of death.

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After the very sad death of David Bowie recently I’ve been pondering on process, influence and the awful inevitability of all that creativity and effort reduced to dust, blabber & smoke.
Quite famously Bowie used the Dadaist Cut-Up technique to form lyrics taking as his direct influence William S Burroughs. The process has more recently been used by Kurt Cobain and Thom Yorke.

Another notable exponent was left field American artist Don Van Vliet, mainly know by his nom-de-plume Captain Beefheart. A friend of mine often cites the Captain as “One of only two post-1945 musical geniuses (the other being Miles Davis).” I’ve often taken issue with this bringing in Zappa and others a counter argument, but I’m increasingly persuaded by his argument.

Van Vliet passed away in 2010 following several years of illness with MS. During his retirement from music he lived in the desert of California in quiet solitude with his wife and mainly engaged with the production of exquisite and primal painting in the Abstract Expressionist style.

Is work can be seen on his website HERE

But back to the poetry. The following was included in the exhibition document Stand Up To Be Discontinued in 1993. Its evident his health was declining from his reading.

– Fallin’ Ditch

When I get lonesome the wind begin t’ moan
When I trip fallin’ ditch
Somebody wanna’ throw the dirt right down
When I feel like dyin’ the sun come out
Stole my fear ‘n gone
Who’s afraid of the spirit with the bluesferbones
Who’s afraid of the fallin’ ditch
Fallin’ ditch ain’t gonna get my bones
How’s that for the spirit
How’s that for the things
Ain’t my fault the thing’s gone wrong
When I’m smilin’ my face wrinkles up real warm
When I’m frownin’ things just turn t’ stone
Fallin’ ditch ain’t gonna get my bones
When I get lonesome the wind begin t’ moan
Fallin’ ditch ain’t gonna get my bones

– The Tired Plain

The bra was white and yellow elastic
and held to foam cones
the corners triangular shaped
pyramid
three edges made one point
starfish and embry boards
triple D cupped and poked to a point
the main character was composed into a bow
that broke first in the front
and equal on adjacent sides

American cowboy was approaching on a collision course
– his hands groped outstretched three digits triangular
to the front nail a line was drawn from the middle
finger to the knuckle of the index finger across
the middle finger onto the third –
creating a perfect arrow
with an imaginary point

– Skeleton Makes Good

There’s so many things
to feel and see while you’re awake
they’re just out of reach
out of grasp
yeah out of reach
and just as many, maybe more
the minute that you sleep
so I got to throw my preach
skeleton breath
scorpion blush
I have a crush on your skeleton
watch out unsuspecting stranger
you’ll fall off the log
headfirst into dreams
end up screaming
this will comb the wolf
and that will comb the fog
what will peen the rain
what will preen the hog
oh you mean earth
and hell over you
and laugh at your tire tracks
if you get up
skeleton makes good

– Safe Sex Drill

The child
held the old T.P. roll
carefully
thoughtful
not to misshape
the hole

– Tulip

It could be
a tremendous black upside-down tulip
it could be
a black fishes’ tail
it could be a day, artistically crimped
and buoyant
in its taped together way

– Gill

Bub & Gil
Bub & Gil
Bub in India
Bub & Mat
Bub in the wool
Bub in a rug
Indoor Bub – Bub in stitches
Glass Bub – Bub in rope
Bub in jail
Bub in tent
Bub in pale
Bub on springs – Bub’s brakes
Bub in pyjamas
Bub’s party – with Gil & Mat & Bub in stitches
Erect Bub
Gill’s pill
Perfumer

To close, here is the Captain in full musical wonder.

The following documentary is also and engaging watch.

Don Van Vliet January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010

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Filed under Comment, Fine Art, Music

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