Music History

Published on August 31st, 2014 | by Alan Cross


Why You Need to Pay Attention to Captain Beefheart (Even Though He’s IMPOSSIBLE to Listen To)

I’ve tried to like Beefheart. Really, I have. But the truth is that his music is just too…out there for me. It’s improvisational, free jazz-ish unsyncopated noise. Beefheart irritates me. But I keep going back because I keep thinking that I’m missing something, that I’m not just listening properly.

His fans–and he has thousands–will tell you he’s a mad genius, one of the greatest innovators modern music has ever seen. And they’ve been saying that for decades–and they can’t be all deluded, can they?

This is a prime example of sometimes needing to listen to something over and over again before the penny drops. And with some artists, that penny is lodged up there pretty tight.

If you’re curious, it’s best to ease into Beefheart rather than jump right in with both feet. Start with this brief description at Daily Music Break and then move on to his 13,000 word Wikipedia entry. If you feel up to it after that, gingerly stick a toe into this from Trout Mask Replica.  Meanwhile, I’m gonna keep trying–once I get up the strength.


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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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One Response to Why You Need to Pay Attention to Captain Beefheart (Even Though He’s IMPOSSIBLE to Listen To)

  1. Rob says:

    Ditto, brother, I feel your confusion.

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