Captain Beefheart's "10 Commandments of Guitar Playing"

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30 Responses to “Captain Beefheart's "10 Commandments of Guitar Playing"”

  1. strangefriend says:

    Cary, did you know Peter Watts was in a Toronto hospital being treated for necrotising fasciitis? http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=1831
    Sorry for the thread hijack.

  2. RadioSilence says:

    as a guitar player i fully understand what he’s saying. wise words.

    it reminds me of some advice Thelonious Monk wrote down http://www.talkovichguitars.com/_Media/monk_words.jpg

  3. Xeno says:

    Practice in front of a bush. if it doesn’t shake eat another piece of multigrained bread.

    This isn’t advice. This is hippy comedy at its best!

  4. Eark_the_Bunny says:

    What a hack is right! He completely forgot the commandment about smearing yourself with chocolate and peanut butter and dancing a jig at midnight during a full moon on the top of a church steeple. HA!

  5. howdini says:

    I got into Beefheart in college. One day I asked one of my music professors, “Jim: Beefheart. Waddaya think?” He swooned and said “My man! One time I saw him play; I was at the back of the theater, grooving to it, and I look to my side and who’s standing next to me but Charles Mingus, grooving right along as well. ‘Charlie,’ I said, ‘what are you doing here?’ He said, ‘This is the only rock cat I dig.’”

    If you think that Beefheart is a hack, then I suggest that you learn definition two of the word “hack“, and start using it correctly. Beefheart is the exact opposite of a hack.

  6. Anonymous says:

    cf. Neil Young/Old Black. ‘Nuff said.

  7. Gabriel says:

    This is fun in a way, but everyone knows Don was a wacko, even if a cool one. And he never touched a guitar, I think.

  8. Major Variola (ret) says:

    I feel that way about my compiler, without the stink.

  9. burritoflats says:

    I would bet 1000 dollars that beefheart Did not come up with these. They’re not funny or clever

  10. ill lich says:

    Well. . . for those that think Beefheart is a hack, I disagree, but I don’t want to argue about it, since there is no accounting for taste. All I know is from the very first instant I heard his music at age 18 I was completely hypnotized and enthralled. I think it’s unfortunate that “Trout Mask Replica” often gets foisted upon the uninitiated, since it’s his most difficult album. Listen to “Clear Spot” or “The Spotlight Kid” (available as a 2-on-1 cd at one point) and then try and make a convincing argument that he’s a hack; even if you don’t like them you can still recognize the talent there.

    As for the commandments, yeah some of this is silly hippy jokesterism, but some of it is dead-on. “If your brain is part of the process, you’re missing it. You should play like a drowning man, struggling to reach shore.” I can attest to the fact that my best playing came when I was struggling. I would end a gig and think “man, I stunk tonight”, then hear the tapes and realize I was really solid. A lot of jazz musicians say you are supposed to practice practice practice so you won’t think when you play live, and I agree. Even his quip about putting a bowl of water in your guitar case is not really a joke: I have to keep my guitars humidified in the winter, so when I’m not playing them I have a wet sponge in plastic inside the case.

  11. friendpuppy says:

    I’d recommend starting with “Shiny Beast.”(the current Rhino release) It’s somewhere between Trout Mask and the commercial stuff. Brilliant arranging and melodies, but plenty of associationist poetry.

    • ill lich says:

      Careful now: technically “Shiny Beast” is the still unreleased album that the Zappa Family Trust owns. “Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller)” is what you mean, and this was actually the very first LP I heard by Beefheart, the one that hypnotized me; yes, it’s a good starting point as well.

  12. howdini says:

    I got into Beefheart in college. One day I asked one of my music professors, “Jim: Beefheart. Waddaya think?” He swooned and said “My man! One time I saw him play; I was at the back of the theater, grooving to it, and I look to my side and who’s standing next to me but Charles Mingus, grooving right along as well. ‘Charlie,’ I said, ‘what are you doing here?’ He said, ‘This is the only rock cat I dig.’”

    If you think that Beefheart is a hack, then I suggest that you learn definition two of the word “hack“, and start using it correctly. Beefheart is the exact opposite of a hack.

  13. Anonymous says:

    As a serious guitar player, I’m appalled. His ‘advice’ is superficial and mostly poser-ish, and none of it applies to actual guitar playing. (Those who pick up the guitar for music, and not because they want to impress some other chick or show off, won’t benefit from such ‘advice’.)

    • magneticwheels says:

      i don’t think i’d ever care to hear you play guitar then. if you don’t have the humor, soul or broad-mindedness to “get” this, you’re way too uptight to be playing guitar. try the lute, maybe?

  14. petsounds says:

    Whatever your opinion of Captain Beefheart’s talents, it is pretty much fact that without the Captain Beefheart records, Tom Waits would not have transitioned into his 80s-present cling-clang-bluesy-barky vocal style. Listen to Trout Mask and then listen to Bone Machine.

  15. Anonymous says:

    fast and bulbous…..tight also!

  16. muteboy says:

    This is cool – some crazy tips there. Reminds me of Lee “Scratch” Perry’s advice for creating his dub sounds:
    “Blow ganja smoke on the master tape while recording, to add this irie finishing touch.”
    “Leave a hen to sport around on your mixing desk. If it has a go in doodooin on track no. 10, so take that out.”

    http://www.interruptor.ch/dub_misc.shtml
    http://www.interruptor.ch/dub_fx.shtml

  17. Dark Cloud says:

    Safe as Milk is a great place to start. Trout Mask is more for advanced listening. A hack? Trolls, trolls everywhere.

  18. gobo says:

    As others have advised, if you’re curious about Beefheart, DO NOT put on “Trout Mask”. It’s amazing, but it’s hard listening. Kind of like trying to get into The Beatles via “Revolution 9″. Instead, “Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller)” is a great place to start; so is “Safe as Milk”.

  19. Anonymous says:

    “silly hippy jokesterism” isn’t a bad thing. it’s a good thing. it’s a BIG thing of the hippie thing. Merry Pranksters ahoy!

  20. EliZ says:

    I had the pleasure of interviewing and videographing (hey that should be a word!) Hubert Sumlin when he brought his newish band to my old home town. Really down to earth, and an amazing axe man. Well, he’s older now so I suppose that’s why he sits instead of stands.

    Here’s the URL for anyone wants to see how it’s done. Videos on there, too.

    http://maplewood.patch.com/articles/blues-legend-sumlin-plays-womans-club-saturday

  21. TheCrawNotTheCraw says:

    I always liked Clear Spot, and, from the album, “Big Eyed Beans From Venus” is a tour d’force, and may be the wierdest fucking song you’ll ever hear.

  22. Fett101 says:

    Do what now?

  23. EH says:

    I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in the universe who thinks Beefheart was a hack.

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