Saturday, December 18, 2010

Don Van Vliet: 15/1/41-17/12/10

Heard about Don Van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart, passing away yesterday. Sixty-nine years old and taken by that most stealthy of diseases, multiple sclerosis. I didn't rush up and play one of his records, rather preferred to give in to nostalgia and all that remembering his music evokes. More than anything else it evokes happiness and youth. The song titles, 'Big-Eyed Beans From Venus,' 'When I See Mommy I Feel Like A Mummy,' 'Lick My Decals, Baby,' etc. I don't have to hear these tracks to be transported to my, or Vinny's - one of my oldest friends - bedroom in the early eighties. These were temporal autonomous zones of hedonism while the music continually played and our parents went about their business downstairs, separated from the party by the floor's breadth of a small, northern English house. I doubt that anyone's music evokes such affection and wistfulness quite as much as Beefheart's, and what I always find amazing, and what I'm always very thankful for, is the way I came across him. Once a punk always a punk I suppose, because had it not been for my sudden exposure to the Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks, The Clash, etc; a logical progression in many ways from being blown away by the likes of Bowie, Sparks, Roxy Music and Mott The Hoople on Top Of The Pops in the early seventies, I wouldn't be the person I am now. Coming across Beefheart, first by way of 'Shiny Beast, Bat Chain Puller,' (I think), and then fervently plundering his back catalogue was all very natural, and would continue to be so across all genres. I'll dance the Candle Mambo tonight. RIP

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