Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica

Trout Mask Replica

Praise for the series:

It was only a matter of time before a clever publisher realized that there is an audience for whom
Exile on Main Street
or
Electric Ladyland
are as significant and worthy of study as
The Catcher in the Rye
or
Middlemarch
.… The series, which now comprises 29 titles with more in the works, is freewheeling and eclectic, ranging from minute rock-geek analysis to idiosyncratic personal celebration—
The New York Times Book Review

Ideal for the rock geek who thinks liner notes just aren’t enough—
Rolling Stone

One of the coolest publishing imprints on the planet—
Bookslut

These are for the insane collectors out there who appreciate fantastic design, well-executed thinking, and things that make your house look cool. Each volume in this series takes a seminal album and breaks it down in startling minutiae. We love these. We are huge nerds—
Vice

A brilliant series…each one a work of real love—
NME
(UK)

Passionate, obsessive, and smart—
Nylon

Religious tracts for the rock ’n’ roll faithful—
Boldtype

[A] consistently excellent series—
Uncut
(UK)

We…aren’t naive enough to think that we’re your only source for reading about music (but if we had our way…watch out). For those of you who really like to know everything there is to know about an album, you’d do well to check out Continuum’s “33 1/3” series of books.—
Pitchfork

For reviews of individual titles in the series, please visit our website at
www.continuumbooks.com
and
33third.blogspot.com

Also available in this series:

Dusty in Memphis
by Warren Zanes

Forever Changes
by Andrew Hultkrans

Harvest
by Sam Inglis

The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society
by Andy Miller

Meat Is Murder
by Joe Pernice

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
by John Cavanagh

Abba Gold
by Elisabeth Vincentelli

Electric Ladyland
by John Perry

Unknown Pleasures
by Chris Ott

Sign ‘O’ the Times
by Michaelangelo Matos

The Velvet Underground and Nico
by Joe Harvard

Let It Be
by Steve Matteo

Live at the Apollo
by Douglas Wolk

Aqualung
by Allan Moore

OK Computer
by Dai Griffiths

Let It Be
by Colin Meloy

Led Zeppelin IV
by Erik Davis

Armed Forces
by Franklin Bruno

Exile on Main Street
by Bill Janovitz

Grace
by Daphne Brooks

Murmur
by J. Niimi

Pet Sounds
by Jim Fusilli

Ramones
by Nicholas Rombes

Endtroducing…
by Eliot Wilder

Kick Out the Jams
by Don McLeese

Low
by Hugo Wilcken

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
by Kim Cooper

Music from Big Pink
by John Niven

Paul’s Boutique
by Dan LeRoy

Doolittle
by Ben Sisario

There’s a Riot Goin’ On
by Miles Marshall Lewis

Stone Roses
by Alex Green

Bee Thousand
by Marc Woodsworth

The Who Sell Out
by John Dougan

Highway 61 Revisited
by Mark Polizzotti

Loveless
by Mike McGonigal

The Notorious Byrd Brothers
by Ric Menck

Court and Spark
by Sean Nelson

69 Love Songs
by LD Beghtol

Songs in the Key of Life
by Zeth Lundy

Use Your Illusion I and II
by Eric Weisbard

Daydream Nation
by Matthew Stearns

Forthcoming in this series:

London Calling
by David L. Ulin
People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm
by Shawn Taylor
Double Nickels on the Dime
by Michael T. Fournier

and many more …

Trout Mask Replica

Kevin Courrier

2007

The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc

80 Maiden Lane, New York, NY 10038

The Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd

The Tower Building, 11 York Road, London SE1 7NX

www.continuumbooks.com

Copyright © 2007 by Kevin Courrier

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written permission of the publishers or their agents.

Printed in Canada

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Courrier, Kevin, 1954-

Trout mask replica / by Kevin Courrier.

p. cm. -- (33 1/3)

eISBN-13: 978-1-4411-9269-1

1. Captain Beefheart. Trout mask replica. 2. Rock music--1961-1970--History and criticism. I. Title. II. Series.

ML420.C2535C68 2007

782.42166092--dc22

2007002716

Contents

Acknowledgments

Preface
The Truth Has No Patterns

Chapter One
A Desert Island of the Mind

Chapter Two
A Different Fish

Chapter Three
Jumping Out of School

Chapter Four
A Little Paranoia is a Good Propeller

Chapter Five
Music from the Other Side of the Fence

Chapter Six
Fast ’N Bulbous

Epilogue
Everyone Drinks from the Same Pond

Bibliography

Acknowledgments

Although this was the most enjoyable (and least disruptive) experience I’ve had yet writing a book, the idea for this little tome followed some rather unfortunate circumstances. After working as a film critic at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for close to fifteen years, I was let go in 2005 by an aspiring executive who didn’t find me (among other things) consumer-friendly enough. It therefore seemed perfectly fitting to go on to write a book about an album that was even less consumer-friendly than me.

For that, I have to offer deep thanks to David Barker, my editor at Continuum press, for giving me the opportunity to delve deeply—but quickly—into my love for a peculiar record that makes demands on that love. Besides being the progenitor of a fascinating series of books for those who truly adore music, David continues to affirm my faith that there are still sharp editors dedicated to creating a nurturing climate for good writing. (He also returns every e-mail query promptly.)
Gabriella Page-Fort supplied a concise copyedit, too, which made my job as a writer about as painless as anyone could hope for.

While writing is always a solitary act, I have a few readers to thank who made it less lonely. Shlomo Schwartzberg bravely tore through this text, and offered invaluable advice, even though he could barely stand to listen to two minutes of the actual album. Naomi Boxer was unflinchingly supportive, extremely helpful, and enormously generous in her comments. Besides being a great friend, John Corcelli offered some deeply insightful suggestions that cleared my head long enough to take the text further than I had planned. Adam Nayman, who is one of the brightest young film critics around, is also a cherished and deeply valued friend. Our endless conversations consistently opened up ideas that found there way into informing this book. David Churchill, one of my oldest and dearest friends, always asks the right questions and provides the best answers. Donald Brackett is every bit part of the fabric of this book. As with my previous efforts on Randy Newman and Frank Zappa, this one also grew out of long passionate discussions about music dating back to 1985.

There are some other special people to thank for the indispensable role they play (or have played) in my both my personal and professional life: Albert & Sheila Vezeau, Scott and Shawn Courrier, Steve Vineberg, Annie Bryant, Mimi Gellman, Dave King and Lynne Godfrey, Avril Orloff, Susan Green, Judith Edwards, Leonore Johnston, Lynne Teperman, Nick Power, Jean Jinnah, Brian Quinn & Vi, Mi-Kyong Shim, Bob Douglas and Gayle Burns, Larry Rooney, Jack David, Jen Hale, the late Tom Fulton, Dave Downey, Anton Leo, Janice
Newton, Sandra Kerr, and my special colleagues and friends at Public Outreach, who every day remind me of the value of professional integrity and dedicated idealism.

Special gratitude also goes to Mimi Divinsky, who truly made this book possible with her profuse generosity and precious friendship.

I set out to write this book with a keen ear for the larger culture that informs Beefheart’s work, in an effort to prove that it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s an important aspect of what a good critic does. For those fans on Internet sites, though, who only crave “new information” (i.e. minutiae), or resent other informed voices who value digging into the “nilly-willy” in order to get at the “nitty-gritty,” this book may not satisfy any fetishistic urges. I can only paraphrase Frank Zappa: information is not knowledge. For those fans inquiring enough to delve into what is maybe (for you) a familiar story, I’ve tried to magnify my appraisal of one of America’s most original artists by including those (like Blind Willie Johnson) who also occupy a kindred spirit of invention. In that vein, I hope you find this book an enjoyable and valuable edition to the ongoing discussion of
Trout Mask Replica
.

Kevin Courrier
February, 2007.

Preface
The Truth Has No Patterns

Like most stories, the tale of this particular book begins with an earlier one. It’s about a love affair with music, and how our liaison with music takes unpredictable twists and turns. As our encounters in romance can begin so suddenly, so innocently, so mysteriously, timeless music can also follow a similar course. A record will sometimes hit us quite unexpectedly on a car radio, right at that moment when the music and the commercials blend into one totally innocuous whole. That’s how I discovered Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” for instance, on a family vacation to Florida. My father, who was driving the car (and who hated rock and roll), became so transfixed by the tidal pull of the song that even he couldn’t find the will to change the station. Other times, it happens through chance encounters with an acquaintance.

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