DON'T ARGUE WITH THE CAPTAIN
A CHILD'S GARDEN OF BEEFHEART
from CHANGES vol.2
#23 150371 usa
by 'king leer'
is 27.01.71 interview
note: under the same title reprinted in 010672 ZIGZAG #24 england, and as untitled 'beefheart alphabet' in book about cb 'the lives and times of captain beefheart'
'i think that if everybody cut out all cleverness there would be no anxiety.' beefheart.
A is for
ambition: i wish you'd put a rhinestone chain on my neck and lead me up and down the street.
and auto too: i have a hudson at home, a hudson hornet '50. i dig that car, i never drive it. i have an ivy display growing in it back home. it's like a barbecue brass type of color, a futuristic '58 barbecue color. i have a faded red '65 volvo with a big bump in the back - bulbous - that my wife wrecked before we got married. it looks like it's smiling to itself.
B is for
beefheart, of course: i'm not a poet, i'm a situation comic.
and breather apparatus, that is: his soprano sax, yenor sax and musette.
C is for
capital punishment: don't give yourself capital punishment, there's no money in it.
close control: when i say close control i mean that we love each other. (referring to the magic band.)
and his credo: i don't believe in straight lines either, or any lines. i believe in circles..., i have to believe that way or i'd fall apart.
D is for
diamonds: i've seen some of the most beautiful diamonds on a woman's face after she's perspired and danced.
as well as dope: (1) ever used? well, of course. i'm an artist. when i didn't realize that i didn't need to be an artist i indulged in a few things just to satisfy myself, you see, which was a selfish thing. but i will go on record, as they say, i'm sure there ís a record, i'll go on record as saying i don't think it helped me. matter of fact, i used it for a while as an excuse to hide behind to not emulate what i really wanted to do.
(2) did it do harm? no, because i think the mind is something that's more vast than that. do you mean, do i think i'm an acid-casualty or something like they talk about, i think not. because zoot horn rollo [bill harkleroad], in the group, i mean i have his permission to talk freely about this, had lysergic acid two hundred and fifty times before he met me. and he was curled up in a ball, like a clam. and any time anybody'd say anything artistic to him or anything, he would.. - i think he was afraid. you see man, when you throw a piece of sand in the clam, you get a pearl; you throw a piece of sand in a man, you get an ulcer. he had ulcers and, finally - after two years living in the same house - finally he was able to start emulating himself again. so he's fine now, you heard him play. he doesn't sound like a casualty. i think he's an example, if you will..., and there needn't be except that people tend to think of things by the way things have gone.... if anybody would like to think of him as an example of somebody who had that amount of hallucinogenics, i think that he's doing real well. but i don't look at him to be anything abnormal or un-normal, i just look at him as another human being.
(3) can drugs benefit anyone as a short cut to mind expansion?i think nót, 'cause the mind's already there....
E is for
egalitarianism: you notice that i use - if you want to call it that - you notice that my musicians are on equal basis with me.
everybody drinks from the same pond.
everybody's colored or else you wouldn't be able to see them.
and e.s.p.(extra sensory perception - t.t.): i think that everybody who has a circle hás e.s.p., and i think they have it anyway whether they like it or not.
i think almost everybody has it but i think the telephones and televisions and things like that have made people lose their ability to use the imagination. as i said before: i don't believe in insanity, i believe in varying degrees of disconnection - and i don't believe the telephone company is the kind of network i would try to emulate for my mind.
F is for
fillmore: i don't feel i need any help, you follow me?
i don't wish to be told that i needed any help to make it, you see, because i've already made it.... we all made it the minute we got out of our mothers.
and film: (leer:) how do you relate to film? (beefheart:) very kodak.
on being a film-maker: i see it as a role that i want to roll and if it rolls and it doesn't stop, it pleases me.
i've already made a movie and i'm making another one. i'm making a movie right now, on this tour.
i think every film is a promotional film. really, don't you? i don't think people do films not to promote themselves.
on making a movie with frank zappa: never! that was a rumor that frank zappa used to connect captain beefheart to frank zappa and then when he got me connected to him on that label he got scared and welshed the deal. (see also zappa.)
G is for
god's golf ball (beefheart's new record company): it bounces higher than the washington monument.
we're having a group called 'the twenty-fifth century quaker' that's going to record on it. we have a group called 'rattlesnakes and eggs', from the desert - a seven piece group. we'll also have a film on it.
as well as gold: i like beads better than money....
H is for
his hat: i wear this hat on stage on my head because when i'm on stage like that and i wear this hat, i can gather all that music on the brim, like this, and it keeps coming around and around. mainly because i'm more of a person that likes acoustic things and i get more of an acoustic sound. see, i don't get quite so..., i don't get quite as much of an electric sound when it hits here and goes around.
this ís a mad hatter's hat... i mean, one that was made with mercury.
i didn't make it, but it was given to me by a mad hatter that had been cured.
as well as hope: i just figure if i'm breathing in and out i'm doing all i can and if i'm doing all i can, it's all i can do.
I is for
identity: referring to the magic band: they're not interested, you see, in having their surnames because of the fact that it's attached to all of those myths their folks tried to keep them in - which is one of the things i think we have to do is get away from that family tree. you know? then we can be friends with our folks rather than having a feeling that they're a burden.
and insanity: i don't believe in insanity, i believe in varying degrees of disconnection.
J is for
jefferson airplane: i never met them..., but i'm not too fond of their calling card. i don't care for their music. it's..., uh..., too lullaby-like.
i see other things, you see?
K is for
kite: see panacea.
L is for
the legendary recluse: it's just that nobody came over to see me before. my name's in the phone book and... i've been waiting for frank zappa to come over and see me.
also 'lick my decals off, baby': a far-out fine record! - king leer.
M is for
making it (see also fillmore): i'm not interested in ruling or being the rules.
i'm trying to move art into their neighborhood, let's put it that way.
and man: i think that man has the most highly developed intelligence. i think men get so intelligent that they're stupid.
man can spread mayonnaise.
i think that man shouldn't give up his ability to reason, 'cause once he gives up his ability to reason he's an animal that's missing part of his brain.
i think that man is a child that can't accept his natural functions.
and mellow: i don't think that mellow can be put in categories.
the word mellow has been designated to mean yellow, my music entails more colors than yellow.
if i really want to do an anachronism i always use a sea-foam green.
misunderstanding: if you know the history of captain beefheart, you know it's been one of tremendous misunderstanding. - grant gibbs, beefheart's personal manager.
you should know by the kindness of uh dog the way uh human should be.
and musical structure: musical structure is really a laugh, only it's a very bitter laugh. bitter pleasantly, like an olive, but maybe like a martini.
i plan, on a tape. i don't ever edit.
i don't work it out, it just comes out.
N is for
nature: the more you disconnect yourself from nature the more insane you are.
the bee takes the honey, then he sets the flower free. man takes the honey and gets stuck in it - either that or he refines the rice to such a degree that it looks clean.
there's more than one chord and it's made up of a lot of drops of water. then it turns into beads, then the beads explode and make rhinestone chains.
and new york: i haven't had any trouble. nobody's brushed off my shoulders or anything with whisk brooms since i've been here.
O is for
ornette coleman: the greatest.
P is for
his panacea: i have an explanation: if everybody would get a balloon in one hand and a kite in the other. blow up the balloon and go fly a kite. i think that would ease their worries.... (leer:) do you réally think so? (beefheart:) no, because after they did it and they let the air out of the balloon and breathed a little bit and felt the kite and the wind blowing it, they'd probably think: "well, edison...-" - what was his name? edison? - "well, edison did this, so it's already done."
physique: i'm pretty padded myself.
and politics: on the revolution: i think it's old hat.... i don't think there's óne, that's why i don't think there's a revolution, because i don't think there's óne, see what i mean?
i've got to buy shoes, a man's got to eat.
Q is for
quantum: i guess i don't believe in three square meals.
and quarrel: i've had records used against me and i have had my art used against me by foolish people. for example? well, they're their own examples.
R is for
radicals: they remind me of a rabbit's foot on a key chain.
the revolutionary cinema: oh, that's wonderful. you mean, before their cameras weren't turning?
and reading: i don't read.
not to mention rolling stone: the one that gathered the moss?
S is for
safe as milk: anything that sounds this good five years later is a triumph. - king leer.
and strictly personal, and self: a lot of people say i'm just moving my fingers, which is an accurate description of what i'm really doing.
i'm just not as serious as the rest of these people.
also swine: beautiful sight to behold. they're very smart, they really have e.s.p..
and the switchman-self: i'm not interested in stopping any light. a lot of people play switchman. i did a composition called 'switchman with parkinson's disease', it'll be on the next album which i think you'll enjoy.
T is for
test-results: i tell you what i'm gonna do to clear this all up. i'm gonna offer myself to 'car and driver' and let them run a test on me, you know, and i'll run out with an unicycle - with a small baby wheel on the back of my fanny - and i'll run down the street and i'll let them go through all of their goodyears and voits.
and trout mask replica: i conceived 'trout mask replica' in eight and a half hours, and we didn't have much more than that to record it in. the group did the tracks in four hours and i put the voice on in four and a half.
time: there's two balls..., there's two balls up there and they have absolutely nothing to do with my coming or going. i'm talking about the sun and the moon.... put them together and you've got the daytime, put them apart and you've got the nighttime, but it's still the same, ask an eskimo.
and training: there are people who are trained and are willing to forget it and not do an animal act such as clyde beatty.
U is for
ungano's: should it be called the 'periscope' instead of 'ungano's'?
i don't have a thing for small clubs, nor do i have a thing for big clubs. i don't care that much about wee-wee.
V is for
values: you see, i've seen man's heart in a large filing cabinet. you know, like building. i've seen the smile of a buick riviera, i've seen the hand on the wheel of plastic rather than the wheel of life. and all of that's fine provided they don't overdo it. they seem to want to graduate, they keep graduating, you see? they graduate in the areas that seem to be so solitary instead of the kind areas. like dolphins graduating across the horizon, into the sun. man graduates his school of thought with no sand and no air and water in it: he mixes....
i think that more children should play with mud-pies. that's out now, you see? they play with plastic shovels, with gloves, the latest ray-gun and space ensemble. and toy tanks and things like that, war toys. think that táke life rather than gíve it. carving is out..., it's hard to find a hand carved thing, and even if you can find it, it's so totally expensive that it's easier to go get a plastic copy of it.
and van vliet, beefheart's previous incarnation: van vliet was a tremendous painter who could never finish anything.
W is for
warner brothers: i think if you have a marriage and the children are getting hurt by it, you should separate. but i'm enjoying this marriage right now. i don't have any plans for leaving.
weapons: the gun is an orgasm that stops the cycle. the penis is an orgasm that, if the circumstances are right, continues the cycle. i prefer thát to violence. i prefer not the gun, i prefer things that complete the cycle.
the wheel: i use the wheel..., i deal with the wheel.
as well as theworld: well, the world is a record and... - the music that's out now in the world - you see, the world is a record.
X is for
beefheart's t.v. commercial [for 'lick my decals off, baby' - t.t.], rated 'x': metromedia refuses to air captain befheart t.v. commercial - charges album title 'obscene'. - warner records press release.
Y is for
yellow: see mellow.
Z is for
zoot horn rollo: see dope.
also zappa: i can't understand, it seems that all frank zappa wanted to do was make anal noises which is one way of saying that everything you eat comes back, you see?.... he likes to work and i like to play, so we had to separate. the thing that i'm saying is that he seems to have been caught up in the fact that he didn't have musical training, seemed to worry him, that he hadn't had this musical training.
i don't know why he wanted to keep my group..., óur group, in check behind him. i don't understand that, a person says they want to create and do new things and then they hold back the group that i'm in, which obviously couldn't be held back. but only in the business, contracturally, to try to hamper our movement.
and also zen: are you into zen? i don't think anybody is. would you like to be? no, i prefer an overcoat.
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