I woke up from a nap and the thought occurred to me, half awake/half asleep, that the joke is over and Miles was back. He came back. This cruel trick that he or somebody else was playing on us is finally over. He was coming home and he would be back soon. I woke up and looked around, my heart lifted. And then it dropped.
I made a playlist of music that Miles liked to play for the memorial service in Lewisburg. I put “Frownland” on it because Miles loved Captain Beefheart and he loved this song. In the car he played it a few times with me because he knew I like him too. I was happy that he enjoyed Beefheart. It is not easy, but once you break the Beefheart code, it is so pleasing. It is so good to hea this song I put this song to play over the PA at the Weiss Center. It played for about a minute and the guy operating the music player skipped this song. I cannot blame him, and I am sure Miles would have looked at me and smiled knowingly.
Miles liked Captain Beefheart a lot. When we were in the car, he would play the newest album that he downloaded. He downloaded some albums I had never heard. This is one song that he and I both liked a lot, among the sweeter songs that Beefheart wrote.
Captain Beefheart was capable of some beautiful songs and this is one of his most beautiful. Miles liked this one too. It is pretty and sweet, but it is also dissonant. Miles liked art that was a challenging. Beefheart is not easy, but difficult can also be beautiful in its own way.
Over the past year, Miles started to listen to a lot of Captain Beefheart. I’m glad he liked Captain Beefheart.
Trout Mask Replica is one of my favorite albums, but it took me a while to enjoy it. For many years, I heard from so many people that Trout Mask Replica is a great album, a great psychedelic record from the 60s. You have to hear it, they would always say. I remember in 1989 when Rolling Stone came out with a list of the top 100 albums of the past 20 years. I pored over it and studied the descriptions. I had not heard of most of the records and I was really intrigued by albums from the Velvet Underground, the Sex Pistols, and Beefheart.
When I finally found the Beefheart CD at a mall record store, I eagerly listened to it. I hated it. It was impossible, impenetrable. It sat on my shelf for years. I would pick it up every once in a while and try to listen but it never caught my ear right and it languished, unlistenable.
One day I gave it another shot. I randomly selected a track—“Sweet Sweet Bulbs.” It finally clicked. I realized that Trout Mask Replica was not just a psychedelic record. It’s a blues record. Yes, it is weird and bizarre and psychedelic, but there is a blues record at its core trying to get out. Once I realized what lay at the heart of the music, I could hear it with new ears and I could listen to it. I enjoyed it and I enjoy still. I can listen to it all the way through.
Miles liked a lot of Captain Beefheart. Beefheart wrote some weird songs and some songs that are difficult to listen to, but he wrote some beautiful songs and some sweet songs and songs that are among my favorites.