Friday, July 29, 2005

Johnny Norms’ Whimsical Tour of the Web

I’ve been meaning to kick-off this series for many moons now. It’s basically my roll call of interesting websites, things that I find curious, beautiful, enlightening, engrossing or otherwise engaging – and I dearly wish to share my knowledge of their existence and whereabouts.

So if you’ve got a few minutes, come and step aboard the cyber-trolley and see the sights with your unpredictable but well-meaning guide JohnnyNorms.

#1 The Captain Beefheart Radar Station

A good place to start: a nice big website about one of my favourite creatives, Don Van Vliet, better known in the music world as Captain Beefheart. Here at the Radar Station you can find song lyrics, poetry, paintings, discography, biography, photographs, interviews, tributes. If you like his music and haven’t encountered this place, a feast awaits you.

What I really like is the chance to explore his paintings – and there’s a lot of artwork here. There’s an imaginative frenzy at work in these paintings, a self-taught genius with a warm heart, admitting no limits to the expressive possibilities. The titles are intriguing and humourous, often referring to his own song lyrics and poems.
This one is "Beezoo, beezoo" 1985.

For newcomers of a musical persuasion, I wholeheartedly recommend investigating the phenomenon of Captain Beefheart & his Magic Band. There are more accessible ways in, but to get the full blast of the uniqueness of Captain Beefheart, jump in the deep-end and listen to “Trout Mask Replica”. It sounds like nothing else, and is so full of inspired, playful music and words, that leave a deep impression. My first time, it sounded pretty chaotic, but it lingered in my mind; eventually I was returned to it, and the order of the wild syncopation became more apparent, the strangeness and abrasiveness stopped getting in the way, and I found it beautiful and exhilirating.

There is much more eloquent writing than mine on the Radar Station about the appeal of the music, and Don Van Vliet's artistry in general. Interviews, articles and tributes abound and will fire your enthusiasm, or deepen your appreciation. The url in full is:


Blogger Graham Johnston said...

Thanks for the great write-up! I hope I've sufficiently repaid the compliment.

1:59 pm  

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