Captain Beefheart’s Commandments for Guitar Players

Don Van Vliet, AKA Captain Beefheart, died yesterday. Courtesy of WFMU’s Beware of the Blog, here are his ten commandments for guitar players. Good advice for anyone who creates.

All are essential, but my favorites are these:

2. Your guitar is not really a guitar Your guitar is a divining rod.
Use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over. A guitar is also a fishing rod. If you’re good, you’ll land a big one.

4. Walk with the devil
Old Delta blues players referred to guitar amplifiers as the “devil box.” And they were right. You have to be an equal opportunity employer in terms of who you’re bringing over from the other side. Electricity attracts devils and demons. Other instruments attract other spirits. An acoustic guitar attracts Casper. A mandolin attracts Wendy. But an electric guitar attracts Beelzebub.

And lest we fall all over ourselves canonizing the man, commenter Mark is there to talk us off the ledge with this great comment: “All very cryptic and poetic as is his wont. But while his band were playing the most difficult music in the world ‘without thinking’ he couldn’t even remember his own god-damnned lyrics, or where to come in.”

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