"I'm goin' up on the mountain and find me a cave and talk those bears into takin' me in..."
-- Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet), "Wild Life" (1969)
A word on the importance of Captain Beefheart.
When I was 16, I was in a bad way: my best friend had committed suicide and my own homelife was becoming unliveable. It crossed my mind more than once that it might be more convenient for all concerned if I wasn't around anymore. Then one morning, I awoke with one clear thought in mind: "I am going to have to start listening to some f****ed-up music."
And so I began to embrace sounds I could not bring myself to embrace before. I started listening to Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, The Mothers of Invention, The Velvet Underground, The Stooges... bands that tapped into emotions that were not traditionally musical -- and I believe hearing those edgier feelings expressed musically, literally saved my life. They also opened my ears to new textures, contours and concepts of beauty.
Beefheart's music may sound crazy to some of you, but it became my refuge from something much crazier. More than any teacher I had, his work taught me to think like an artist and how to use language like paint.
I shared this life-saving confession earlier tonight with a friend, and she wrote back to me, "We should all be so lucky to say that we served such a purpose in this life."
So, thank you, Don, for being the bear on the mountain who took me in -- and godspeed.