Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tom Waits remembering Captain Beefheart: "we want to enter the bloodstream"

"China Pig"
(Don Van Vliet)

I don't wanna kill my china pig
No I don't
Uh man's gotta live
Uh man's gotta eat
Uh man's gotta have shoes t' walk out on the street
I don't wanna kill my china pig
Ell he was uh baby I want yuh t' see
I don't wanna kill my china pig
Well I used t' go t' school
With uh' little red box
'n I used to have m' pig go with me
We walked for blocks
I don't wanna kill my china pig
His tail curled five times in uh circle round
It's glazed
He's got uh slot in his back flowers grow
My china pig be uh quite uh show
I don't wanna kill my china pig
Woe no
My china pig
I got him by the snout
'n I takes him by the cuff
'n I whipped out m' fork
'n I poked at um
Three hairs laid out on m' floor
I remember my china pig
I fed the neighborhood
It was uh big neighborhood
Uh lot uh people liked my pig
One little girl used t' put her fingers in his snout
I put uh fork in his back
I didn't wanna kill my china pig

Tom Waits -- who knows a thing or two about the power of the word -- became late friends with musician and painter Don Van Vliet, the visionary Captain Beefheart, who died in 2011. In an interview with Randall Roberts of the L.A. Times, Waits commented on the good Captain's legacy and his obllque writing style. "China Pig" is included on Captain Beefheart's monumental 1969 album, Trout Mask Replica.

I understand you had a friendship with Don Van Vliet in his final years.

I can’t say we were close friends, but he corresponded with a lot of people, and as he got slower and more incapacitated, he was on the phone a lot. And I had asked if I could call him, and I did. And he was very quick, and bright, and original and cultural right up until the end.

It seems as though you channel him a few times on “Bad as Me,” especially in the title track.

Yeah, yeah, well, I hope so. Isn’t that what we all really kind of — we want to enter the culture, we want to enter the bloodstream and be part of the soil, so that when other people are growing they say, “I see that, I see that.”

He was such a unique individual. I think he was constantly covering up his tracks. He was very secretive about his process. He was a riddle. And then you have his songs, and you have those to wonder about. I just played “China Pig” for an Australian radio show, and they said, “Pick a bunch of songs that you want to play,” and we put that on and it was really great to hear. That’s when you realize that words are music. Period.

No comments: