Showing posts with label David Letterman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label David Letterman. Show all posts

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Upon the damn . . . oh, damn

Captain Beefheart is dead. Sh*t.

I happened upon the news tonight on
NPR. I wonder whether it'll get a mention on MTV. I wonder why I wonder, since even back when Music Television actually played music videos, the Captain wasn't in the mix.

Capitalism is one thing. Genius is another. You don't get to be a good capitalist trying to sell people genius. Usually.

HERE'S SOME of what the NPR story said:
Avant-garde musician Captain Beefheart died this morning in California from complications of multiple sclerosis. He was 69.

An all-time favorite of rock critics — and known to readers of lists of the best rock albums of all time as the guy with the hat and the fish face — Beefheart earned a reputation for making challenging music. But his work was, at its root, well-executed blues-based rock.

His given name was Don Vliet — he added a Van in between his first and last names later. He was one of those musicians who sold fewer records than his best-known fans: Tom Waits, members of R.E.M. and New Order are just a few of dozens. The late British DJ John Peel called Beefheart a true genius, possibly the only one rock ever produced.

Mark Mothersbaugh, of the band Devo, calls him one of the all-time greats.

"The Beatles and The Rolling Stones would definitely be in that group of what turned me on about music," Mothersbaugh says. "But I have to say that he made me want to be an artist."

Born in a Los Angeles suburb, the only child and art prodigy was featured on a local television show making animal sculptures as a child. When he was 13 years old, his family moved to the Mojave Desert, where he befriended a young Frank Zappa.

In 1966, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band signed with A&M records and scored a regional hit with a cover of Willie Dixon's "Diddy Wah Diddy." Pretty soon, Van Vliet was writing original material for his band. In a 1980 interview with the BBC, he insisted he was a composer, not a songwriter. And in his band, he was exacting.

"I play the drums. I play the guitar. I play the piano," he said. "I want it exactly the way I want it. Exactly. Don't you think that somebody like Stravinsky, for instance — don't you think that it would annoy him if somebody bent a note the wrong way?"

DON VAN VLIET is dead. Sh*t.

I miss the days when "avant-garde" rarely was a euphemism for "can't play their damn instruments" or, more simply, "noise." And I will miss Captain Beefheart.

Thank God for record albums.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Your Daily '80s: Andy & Dave, 1980

Here's a little agit for the never-believer. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Here's a little ghost for the offering. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Here's a truck stop instead of St. Peter's. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Mr. Andy Kaufman's gone wrestling (wrestling bears).
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Hey Andy, did you hear about this one? Tell me, are you locked in the punch?

Hey Andy, are you goofing on Elvis? Hey baby, are we losing touch?
If you believed they put a man on the moon, man on the moon
If you believe there's nothing up my sleeve, then nothing is cool

-- R.E.M., 1992

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Your Daily '80s: Before Late Night, mid-morning

Before there was
The Late Show with David Letterman, there was Late Night With David Letterman, and before there was Late Night With David Letterman, there was The David Letterman Show. Which wasn't on late at all.

It didn't run long, just from June to October of 1980, but you can see what was to come in a couple of years. Not to mention what Jay Leno would be stealing in another decade or so.

So, welcome back to Sept. 30, 1980. Today's featured guest, Steve Martin.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Your Daily '80s: 1987 . . . the apex of Letterman

Sometimes, greatness catches you unawares. Sometimes, you hit your peak, and you have no idea what has happened.

Sometimes, this happens to you, and you have precious little to do with it.

This happened to David Letterman on July 28, 1987. It caught him unawares.

Hell, at the time, most of us in the viewing audience were with Dave. We just figured Crispin Glover was stoned out of his gourd.
And weird.

A stoned weirdo.

After watching Andy Kaufman for years by then, we should have recognized greatness.

But now we know the deal.