But is it normal, Doctor?

I don’t know about you but I reckon there are times when the world around us gets so downright peculiar that it’s only really strange music, the weirder the better, that can hit the spot.
None stranger, of course, than Don Van Vliet – aka Captain Beefheart. Here are two live performances, both recorded in Paris, the first at the Bataclan in 1972 and the second at the Théatre De L’Empire in 1980.
I’ve included the published lyrics if only to show how far Don departs from them. The personnel may differ but both bands are superb, from the train-coming-down-the-track polyrhythms of Click Clack to that uncanny sound of a car windscreen-wiper – faithfully copied from life – which provides the riff to Bat Chain Puller. The good Captain’s car was stopped at a railroad crossing with an apparently endless goods-train trundling past … 
Two trains
Two railroad tracks
One goin’ ‘n the other one comin’ back
There goes my baby on that ole train
I say come back come back baby come back
Click clack click clack
There’s my baby wavin’ her handkerchief down
My ears stand up when I hear that sound
This time it sounds like it’s for keeps
Click clack click clack
I get down on the ground
With the gravel around
I pray t’ the Lord
That the train will stop
Turn right around
‘N never stop till it drop my baby off
Now I had this girl
Threatened ‘n leave me all the time
Maybe you had uh girl like that
I-yuh all time cryin’
Well I had this girl
Threatened ‘n leave me all the time
Threatenin’ t’ go down t’ N’Orleans-uh
‘N get herself lost ‘n found
Maybe you had uh girl like this
She’s always
Bat chain
Puller
Bat chain puller
Puller, puller
A chain with yellow lights
That glistens like oil beads
On its slick smooth trunk
That trails behind on tracks, and thumps
A wing hangs limp and retreats
Bat chain puller
Puller puller
Bulbs shoot from its snoot
And vanish into darkness
It whistles like a root snatched from dry earth
Sodbustin’ rakes with grey dust claws
Announces it’s coming in the morning
This train with grey tubes
That houses people’s very thoughts and belongings.
Bat chain puller
Puller puller
This train with grey tubes that houses people’s thoughts,
Their very remains and belongings.
A grey cloth patch
Caught with four threads
In the hollow wind of its stacks
Ripples felt fades and grey sparks clacks,
Lunging the cushioned thickets.
Pumpkins span the hills
With orange Crayola patches.
Green inflated trees
Balloon up into marshmallow soot
That walks away in faulty circles,
Caught in grey blisters
With twinkling lights and green sashes
Drawn by rubber dolphins with gold yawning mouths
That blister and break in agony
In zones of rust
They gild gold sawdust into dust.
Bat chain puller,
Puller puller

5 thoughts on “But is it normal, Doctor?

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