American Studies

Captain Beefheart, Gilbert Arenas And The Fate Of The Weirdo

Captain Beefheart died with the mark of the weirdo on him. If the twelve-tone Howlin' Wolf acolyte who dabbled in Surrealism and late Coltrane hadn't once been mistaken for a rock musician, his passing wouldn't be national news. But he was, and thus became the kind of eccentric who can't simply be ignored. Beefheart had to be confronted.

Some records don't get reviews, they get epigrams. Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica isn't "the sound of a generation", "when [insert genre] grew up", or "the greatest no one ever heard." Instead, it's "that one you have to listen to at least once"—after which, presumably, you're either converted for life [...]