JEANS IN DE WOESTIJN
een ontmoeting met captain beefheart
from OOR 23.04.83
HOLLAND music magazine
by tjerk lammers
is early 1983 usa interview
IN THE DESERT
a meeting with captain beefheart
part 1 - part 2 - THIS is PART 3
it may be clear that captain beefheart doesn't make much of the present pop musicians. but everyone is the product of its parents, the own personality ánd settings, so the works of captain beefheart surely are co-formed by influences from outside too. but in the case of the artist don van vliet that doesn't mean that his music has been influenced by that of others. van vliet is a reservoir of impressions, which re-produces all these impressions in the form of poems, paintings and music. so he can translate a good piece of music into a magnificent painting, for instance - and the other way round. in other words: don van vliet might visit the van gogh museum and later captain beefheart flings a composition to tape in vivid colours.
there are but a few bigwigs from the world of art (with capital or lower case 'a'), which he approves of. as a small country we may strike our narrow breast, because beefheart even admires two of our artists: painter vincent van gogh and photographer anton corbijn. the latter made the splendid portrait on the cover of his last elpee. "the cover of ice cream is a painted window shade. i made it when i was recording trout mask. and the picture is by anton. it's good, isn't it?"
you slightly resemble each other. when you come to know anton a little bit, you'll notice he's a big child too.
yeah, he's a real child, ha; we get on with each other very well. hell, i have pasted him over a painting i'm very fond of. that means i take my hat off to him.... i hope, he likes the cover the way it is. first they wanted to paste his photo a little on the bias, but i told them it should be straight. bang, right in the middle!
you also are a great admirer of vincent van gogh.
ven gó, yes. how again do you pronounce that in dutch? ven choch; ven choch. hey, i've taken bert van de kamp quite through the wringer with that. he has tried to learn me the right tongue, he had to repeat it about fourty times. but i still can't. have you ever been to his museum? the lightning there is shit, they didn't mind at all! god, his colors! he paints a sun, better than the real one. when i left the museum, the sun disappointed me so. i still am!
(he stands up and holds his hand at his chest.) he only was this tall, i believe. and he also was a very distinguished writer. when he had been painting the whole day long, he wrote extensive letters to his brother theo at night. (he spreads out him arms.) thát many books! his writings are brilliant. to me van gogh equals einstein.
picture (from 1980) by anton corbijn
a lot of people think yóu are a genius too.
in a 'rolling stone' interview i once mentioned that the only thing which makes me a genius, is the fact i sometimes wear levi's.
jeans. jean-ius..., haha!
but you think you're pretty good yourself.
well, now and then i'm fairly excellent in what i do. ah, an artist is some-one who kids himself must gracefully.
i do what i'm doing, and i try to make myself believe that what i'm doing always is something completely new. so i fool myself gracefully. i think that thát's art.
back to your music. you're not interested in contemporary pop musicians, but no doubt there are musicians you dó appreciate.
i like mozart very much. and strawinski, especially when he conducts his orchestra himself. they now have released a box with records of him on cbs, wow! do you know who was good? rashaan roland kirk! very underrated, i think. he was the best, absolutely the best. well, and charly parker of course, and coltrane and so, but i just prefer roland kirk. we've been very good friends for years.
i was greatly shocked when he died. the last time i spoke to him, was after one of his sets in los angeles. it was in the midst of the night and he asked: 'say don, where can i get some spare-ribs?' i said: 'the only place you can get ribs this night and time, is in the bible'. he had to laugh enormously, he boomed all the way to his car. that's the last what i've seen of him. quite funny to part like that. coltrane was a good friend too. he once gave me his autograph on a dollar bill. i still have it. i also have one of lenny bruce.
did you know lenny bruce well?
yes, he was a friend of mine. he was such a fanatic. when i first met him, he had all of those very dark circles around his eyes. god, such a talent!
it still isn't realised he is responsible for all modern cabaret. all young comedians got it from him.
they all have stólen it from him. there's a story about him, which took place in texas. he was there in a pub, and at a certain moment he jumped on the bar with two big mugs of beer in his hands. and as he cried: 'i'm a super jew!', he simply plunged off the bar on top of a fucker from texas and heavily hit that guy on his ears with those mugs. just fancy! he was rather crazy.... but can you imagine dustin hoffman played him? i gotta admit he's a good actor, but anyhow it isn't as it should be. you must be quite an ego-tripper, to even try and play lenny bruce.
you also met tom waits. what kind of relation de you have?
he always came to my concerts. however, i never attended one of his sets. i don't have the need.
don't you think his music is o.k.?
ah, i like hemingway. and kerouac. tom waits just does kerouac. how can you steal from someone like him, you know.
and how's your relation with frank zappa at the moment?
he's not as smart as you think. i also don't think he's such a good musician. he is an eclectic. certainly no good composer too, haha. i wish i'd never met him. jeez, please don't put anything about zappa in your article!
there is something else the captain doesn't want to have published. the genius has many sides, the genius does things which passes all understanding, but the genius remains a man of flesh and blood. when we have a chat in a vague pub afterwards, we are being served by an extremely short-skirted waitress, who appears to command the most beautiful legs on earth.
i can but hardly concentrate on the old man opposite of me, with so much prettiness close to me. but the old man himself is entirely overpowered. in florid words he describes the beauty of the pair of legs, to gasp for breath each time it comes too close again. upon which he suddenly looks at me as if caught, and complete unnecessarily swears that he is happily married, and still is mad on his wife after all.
then he grabs his cassette recorder and whistles some atonal tune to the tape. another composition is born...
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