Author Topic: Favorite Beefheart Song  (Read 232 times)


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Favorite Beefheart Song
« on: January 11, 2018, 08:45:59 PM »
Man, it always pays to listen to the entire show from start to finish. It is the only place where things I like are actually discussed. Seriously, I can't wait until the topic of Oscar Goldman from the 6 Million Dollar Man comes up one day.
So, I have an answer to a question that nobody asked: "Dammit, what is your favorite Captain Beefheart song?"  "Why that would have to be Odd Jobs."
Odd Jobs - Captain Beefheart
I like this mashed-up version of the song best, because you can hear Beefheart's early piano version flow into full band version and then back out again into the early piano version. Basically, this one captures all of the lore of his compositions and some of his best lyrics.
From what I understand, Beefheart could not read music; instead, he would whistle, throw tin ashtrays at walls (That's the drum solo! Learn it!), and bang at his piano while recording his musings on a tape recorder. Apparently, Beefheart's rough recorded demo for the song can be heard here: Odd Jobs - Piano Demo. It is quite beautiful to me, even without the words.
I can imagine Don playing away into the recorder what he was hearing in his head...and then his elves (mainly, Drumbo-the-elf and the later elf, Gary Lucas) taking the recording, creating the compositions, the parts, and bringing it to life, while Beefheart would nap and then take credit for the band's work upon waking up. Here is the song as a work in its final version: Odd Jobs - 2012 remaster.
The lyrics, too, are pure poetry. For me, Beefheart's story of Odd Jobs - a hobo who rides a "form-a-heap" bike but "don't come around anymore" with his "candy store" - and his descriptions of the setting, where maybe a child is looking out a window from her perch in the world amid carpet backing, tacky wallpaper, and dead flies collecting on the window sill - are magical.  Maybe it is because I grew up in a neighborhood where there were lots of "Odd Job" characters around who would come and go (and go they would by police car, hearse, or the (H)orse) that I find the song, story, and lyrics so compelling.
Finally, for those who have read this far, there is a great John Peel documentary on Captain Beefheart here. If for nothing else, it is worth hearing Ry Cooder's story of the "joys" of working with Beefheart.
[Verse 1]
The rug ripped up in cloth popcorn balls
The walls an old candy striped sack
In the corner wrinkled black and white
A table held up by legs
The peeled back red enamelled mouth of linoleum screamed
At the pasteboard door
A knob rolled off in some corner sticky
A curtain blew into a sink
Dead flies and newspapers
Charred fire brown wings and toast

[Verse 2]
Hobo ain't been around for some time
The gate danced without its paint on
"Odd Jobs" is written on
Spiders were the window's eyes
The sun made them look silver
The little girl from in back of the clothesline
Cast a shadow like a crow
It's beak spoke open
Why doesn't old Odd Jobs come around anymore
He used to ride his form-a-heap bike
And his basket was a whole candy store
He used t'make Xs from door to door link to find why X marks the spot
All the women and the young girls around here
Ask why old Jobs don't come around anymore
Ask why old Jobs don't come on home
And the gate without its paint on danced
And creaked and moaned

Here he comes peddlin' up on his form-a-heap bike
A bag of skin and bones
Spokes were scraping two rust fenders, oh
Dammit wonders if Herb Bermann contributed anything to the lyrics on this one.

« Last Edit: January 12, 2018, 12:55:29 PM by Dammit »


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Re: Favorite Beefheart Song
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2018, 12:14:09 AM »
“Hot Head” is my favorite. Very disco-y.


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Re: Favorite Beefheart Song
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2018, 01:36:20 PM »
I didn't think I liked Capt. Beef until I heard "Tropical Hot Dog Night" on WFMU and now it's like my theme song. Also very effective for turning my mood around!


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Re: Favorite Beefheart Song
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2018, 09:56:22 AM »

Hobo ain't been around for some time
The gate danced without its paint on

That was wonderful, Dammit.

Well researched!

This guy has me leaning toward Fownland:
"Like it or not, Florida seems dedicated to a 'live fast, die' way of doing things."


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Re: Favorite Beefheart Song
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2018, 03:37:58 PM »


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Re: Favorite Beefheart Song
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2018, 07:59:06 PM »
Thank you!

That whole album (with the song that you referenced) is great - probably what kept me trying to understand Beefheart, kind of like Marc Maron said:

I think I heard that Bat Chain Puller's theme came from Don hearing windshield wipers drivers slide back and forth. I remember those old cars, and I can confirm that it sure does sound like that:

Here is an episode of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom for no reason at all:


Update: It looks like I figured out the windshield wipers thing from the top comment on youtube. Nice police-work there, eh?

Hobo ain't been around for some time
The gate danced without its paint on

That was wonderful, Dammit.

Well researched!

This guy has me leaning toward Fownland:
« Last Edit: January 18, 2018, 12:18:09 PM by Dammit »