We have here evidence of a musical pilgrimage that my songwriting partner Matt Fuller and I undertook two or three years ago, to the house on the edge of the San Fernando Valley where Captain Beefheart woodshedded that glorious headache of a record, Trout Mask Replica.
Matt was our navigator on this one. He lives in Hollywood and, like any resourceful Angeleno, has county road maps that accurately reflect the terrain, since half a mile of flat valley and half a mile of Hollywood hill offer utterly different navigational challenges.
That's the whacked-out members of Beefheart standing on a bridge in the yard, on the back of the album; Matt standing by the remnants of the bridge' Matt and myself in front of the house itself (where Don Van Vliet terrorized his band members throughout a psychotic regimen of rehearsals); and a relic of a fountain which, I believe, also figures into the iconography of the album art.
The photo of the two of us together was taken by the new homeowner, a mild and friendly man who seemed prepared to have this scene repeat itself every once in awhile as long as he lives inside one of the houses that weird music built.
I recall he offered to sell us a mirror that had been in the house, he said, when Beefheart lived and worked there. We didn't have any money - and I think mirrors bear traces of the people who have looked into them. My interest in Captain Beefheart is a drive-by kind of thing, not a move-in-with-me and then look-back-out-of-the-mirror-at-me kind of thing.
After this little pilgrimage, Matt and I found a canyon and worked on the poetry score to Les Murray's Sydney Highrise Variations, which I'll be talking about a lot this year, but mostly on the Poetry Scores blog, where it belongs.