Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Dust Blows Forward And The Dust Blows Back

Let me see now. Where was I. Ah, yes. Captain Beefheart.

"Tropical Hot Dog Night" is the one Beefheart song that even our boys can recognise. It exists on an endless playlist of 2,000-odd songs, of every hue, that I put on whenever I get a chance. (Which is not often.) It is a timeless kind of song, as are most of Beefheart's, in the sense that they exist outside of any particularly recognisable era. It is the thing that made him great, and that even Tom Waits, who tries as hard as anybody to position himself outside of the world in which he lives, can't quite manage in quite the same way.

What is interesting to me is how many virtual column inches have been filled with the Captain since his death, surely in no kind of proportion to how often people actually listen to his music. Take me, for example. "Trout Mask Replica" has been a fixture of my record collection for twenty-odd years, and it is easily one of my most cherished vinyl artyfacts, and yet it has sat on the turntable relatively little over that time. (In terms of playability, I have to say that I lean towards "Safe As Milk" and "Clear Spot". They lack the towering, over-stretching ambition of "TMR", but you can hum along to them.)

As usual, Sasha Frere-Jones writes some of the best words about Beefheart's legacy. And Reynolds gives good YouTube.