Cult singer pays his respects

Tom Waits is the latest artist to pay their respects to seminal bandleader, songwriter and artist Captain Beefheart.

Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart have a lot in common. Both draw on arts traditions outwith rock 'n' roll, with Waits' Brechtian sense of the theatrical matched by Beefheart's love of Surrealism.

Equally, both have a fondness for American folk arts, with Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart tipping their hats towards blues and jazz. In a sad twist, though, this article will have to start using the past tense - Captain Beefheart died recently at the age of 69.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Tom Waits became the latest artist to pay his respects to the seminal musician. Vastly influential, Captain Beefheart has been mourned by an extraordinarily disparate cast.

"He was like the scout on a wagon train," Tom Waits said. "He was the one who goes ahead and shows the way. He was a demanding bandleader, a transcendental composer (with emphasis on the dental), up there with Ornette (Coleman), Sun Ra and Miles (Davis). He drew in the air with a burnt stick. He described the indescribable. He's an underground stream and a big yellow blimp."

Continuing, Tom Waits revealed that the pair used to chat to each other on the telephone. "I will miss talking to him on the phone. We would describe what we saw out of our windows. He was a rememberer."

"He was the only one who thought to bring matches. He's the alpha and the omega. The high water mark. He's gone and he won't be back."

The Los Angeles Times also spoke to journalist Kristine McKenna who revealed more about the personal nature of the reclusive artist. "He took great pleasure in a lot of things. Obviously, he was just built differently than the rest of us completely, just the way he experienced everything" he said.

"He was very intuitive and very tuned in to the natural world. He loved animals, but he was kind of a misanthrope at the same time. He thought human beings were the worst species that was ever dreamed up, and he expressed that often in many different ways."

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