Sunday, 19 December 2010

Captain Beefheart as Poet

From an old essay:
Van Vliet has an almost Wordsworthian sense of the whole condition of everything as infused with meaning and living. Take the poem ‘Hey Garland I Dig Your Tweed Coat’ (Garland being the name of the poet’s cat), where, in a ripe moment, a tomato (in the process of being eaten) forms into an “O” and “bleeds red” – a mouth (vagina), sexualised, wounded. This can even apply to taking a shit, as in ‘81 Poop Hatch’ (recited on Beefheart’s last album, ‘Ice Cream for Crow’), in which hearing “some jumbled rock ‘n’ roll tune” on the radio leads to the line, “a typical musician’s nest of thoughts filter through dust speakers,” uniting the ‘natural’ and the ‘mechanical’ in a manner similar to the way the short poem ‘One Nest Rolls After Another’ links the animal and the human, comparing falling nests to lashing tongues. It’s hardly a ‘mystical moment’, the “naturally magically” fantasies of ‘Trout Mask Replica,’ but it is a kind of ‘coming together’, of moments and activities and objects, perceptions and faculties. And, indeed, that might not be too dissimilar to ‘Replica’ after all: take lines such as “wild life, wild life,/ I’m going up on the mountain for the rest of my life,” where the insistence of rhyme leads to a kind of Bob Dylan-esque associative lyrical flow, a sense that the materiality of words is suffused with meaning as much as their surface ‘meaningful content.’

Don Van Vliet, a.k.a. Captain Beefheart.
January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010

1 comment:

Jazz Music Online said...

It's amazingly poet. I tried to understand it but failed in some of it. I will never look at a tomato the same way again!