From the very first moment of hearing Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band’s Trout Mask Replica many years ago, I was hooked. The first crashing guitar chunks of “Frownland” followed by the Captain’s growling happy voice “My smile is stuck, I cannot go back to your Frownland”… When I read Lester Bangs’ lines, they rang true:

Trout Mask Replica shattered my skull, realigned my synapses, made me nervous, made me laugh, made me jump and jag with joy. It wasn’t just the fusion I’d been waiting for: it was a whole new universe, a completely realized and previously unimaginable landscape of guitars splintering and spronging and slanging and even actually swinging in every direction, as far as the mind could see…while this beast voice straight out of one of Michael McClure’s Ghost Tantras growled out a catarrh spew of images at once careeningly abstract and as basic and bawdy as the last 200 years of American Folklore…I stayed under the headphones and played Trout Mask straight through five times in a row that night. The next step of course was to turn the rest of the world on to this amazing thing I’d found, which perhaps came closer to a living, pulsating, slithering organism than any other record I’d ever heard.’ – Lester Bangs, New Musical Express, 1 April 1978

He was inconsistent and probably more than a little crazy, but his blues-derived experimental rock-and-roll was one of the most original things to have appeared in its time or since. Don Van Vliet, a.k.a. Captain Beefheart, died yesterday, at 69, from complications associated with multiple sclerosis. Rest in Peace.

My smile is stuck
I cannot go back t` yer Frownland
My spirit`s made up of the ocean
And the sky `n the sun `n the moon
`n all my eye can see
I cannot go back to yer land of gloom
Where black jagged shadows
Remind me of the comin` of yer doom
I want my own land
Take my hand `n come with me
It`s not too late for you
It`s not too late for me
To find my homeland
Where uh man can stand by another man
Without an ego flyin`
With no man lyin`
`n no one dyin` by an earthly hand
Let the devil burn `n the beggar learn
`n the little girls that live in those old worlds
Take my kind hand
My smile is stuck
I cannot go back t` yer Frownland

More here (hat tips to all):

The Listening Ear

Some Came Running

A Music Long Before Meaning

Sub Specie Aeterni