IN THE HANDS OF THE FANS (Pt.2): Captain Beefheart


Ed. note: a few months ago we ran a contest here at the site giving readers a chance to win that awesome Sun Zoom Spark: 1970 to 1972 4LP box set that Rhino released. (Earlier our reviewer enthused at length about the box, calling it “a loving tribute to a modern American master… every short, sharp, shocking note an essential ‘un, no lie.”) But there was a catch: to enter the contest you had to submit a Beef-related story, anecdote or appreciation, or at very least, a compelling reason why you deserved to win. We received a slew of entries, many of them apparently from readers that didn’t bother reading the terms of submission (they only sent their name and mailing address). Several, though, were corkers, including the winning one by Chris Besinger, who penned a pretty awesome poem in tribute of the good Cap’n. His poem is reproduced below, along with a handful of our other favorites that we feel confident all you staunch Don Van Vliet fans out there will appreciate. Incidentally, the Radar Station feed at Twitter is a pretty sharp source for all things Beefheartian so check it out.  -FM



The Nose Knows, by Chris Besinger

I’m a big Beefheart fan and so I wrote a poem inspired by him for my submission…


Drive on, drive on though thankless night

His body, his thick bumble-bee body bouncing

Moustache twirl the girl in the brown ribbon dress

On a boat skywise blue miles in song

A-patter, the ball with all his might, textures oh and how

On the pattern with a glass of squid-ink wine

Say finger-yes with the touch-see goes to ears

In a sound-o-phonic extra horo-scopic.

Top hat man, with guitar man, with drumbo man

Desert music. Bush music.

Crows who talk, stalk, walk, and follow the top-hat man

Hiccup voice of the old man

In smoky x-ray world atomic world fragment world

Repeating world O soul

To become too sensitive and yip!

She asked her mother why, why would the top-hat man

With the periscope radar hold, would sleep like a

Ship, sleep like a rose, rose like a fish

Fix like a nose

The nose knows said the top-hat man

Behind his excellent Moto-Vator-Ampl-i-Tude Box

That snake had found, click-clackd on

Trees, a vision. O that old fool

Old crow cried to the momma heartbeat to the


And soon with lighted glory the crow

Caw, the dog barked, and all the plants

In the desert danced to the song of the top-hat man.



The Beefheart BBQ, by John Wesley Coleman

Captain Beefheart to me is the opposite and very nature of whats going on in the world today. He is not the TV show “The Voice” or “American Idol” which are garbage soul raping cash machines; instead he is those bombings and tornadoes that shake our lives or beautiful sketches of loneliness. It is real motherfucking rock and roll meets art meets your ears ends in freakout. Everything in Captain Beefheart is pure awe inspiring music. It’s my go too, when I’m burned out on my musical endeavors.

So much I wanna throw a BBQ and DJ his records and have bands play tribute to the legacy of Beefheart. Call it Beefheart BBQ!



The Real O.F., by Peter Whitney

Abba zaba meat dream of an octafish fast and bulbous , wisdom from the captain before most of us learned to listen with open ears to the imagination of what music might be. Opening up the mind to the surreal in music before punk, post punk , no wave and noise rock were even heard of. Beefheart was the forefather of much of what was to follow.



The Detail’s in the Email, by Lawrence Chigi

Here is my entry for the vinyl giveaway. I mean really, check out my email address! Love everything about Mr. Van Vliet and the music he put out there for everyone. [Ed. note: the writer’s email is CaptnBeefheart@(redacted).com



Photo Credit: Leahtwosaints (2009, via Wikimedia Commons). Go HERE to read our special Beefheart feature that was published on April 1, 2010; and HERE for our 2010 obituary of the good Cap’n.


Previously in our “In The Hands Of CaptThe Fans” series:

Tori Amos, “Out of the Darkness”

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