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The Bogus "Beefheart's 10 Commandments of Guitar Playing"  
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Otto Reverse
Joined: 2017-10-21
Posts: 7
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Post 2018-11-02 21:08   [Quote] 
Of all the questionable and made-up Beefheart bogus mythological junk out there, the very bogus "Captain Beefheart's 10 Commandments of Guitar Playing" has to be the most bogus junk of them all...and no one has ever questioned it

When I first read these poorly-conceived "commandments" (see below) several years ago (on some non-music blog) I could tell right away they have absolutely nothing to do with Captain Beefheart...

First of all, each of the "commandments" is poorly-written and ill-conceived...an idea like "listen to the birds, that's where all the music comes from" just sounds stupid (and Beefheart was not stupid) -- all the music comes from the birds? -- oh, come on please...

Beefheart was the master of clarity...a line like "your instrument has more clout than lightning" is not only vague, but again just sounds stupid -- more clout than lightning? ---I don't think so

Captain Beefheart's analogies and metaphors are deeply clever...bogus contemplations such as "an acoustic guitar attracts Casper. A mandolin attracts Wendy" are (once again) just dumb...Beefheart was not dumb, he chose words carefully for maximum effect

The bottom line is that none of these so-called commandments are Beefheartian....they all sound made up to appear to be devised by Beefheart...and they don't align thematically with any other CB output...and their real source continues to be a mystery...some say they come from a book published by Rolling Stone, Inc -- others say that they were transcribed in the studio (straight from Beefheart's mouth) by an indeterminate Magic Band guitarist...still, these commandments circulate as if they fell right out of Beefheart's brain into the depths of the Internet, as Truth and as real Beefheart fact

The very sad thing is that vile, poorly-intentioned ephemera such as these "commandments" can be pawned off as the work of a real genius (Beefheart) - and it's unsettling that even so-called Captain Beefheart fans can be hood-winked by them...these commandments are an affront and a pox upon CB's legacy...a pox, I say!

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"Beefheart's 10 Commandments of Guitar Playing"

1. Listen to the birds.
That's where all the music comes from. Birds know everything about how it should sound and where that sound should come from. And watch hummingbirds. They fly really fast, but a lot of times they aren't going anywhere.

2. Your guitar is not really a guitar. Your guitar is a divining rod.
Use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over. A guitar is also a fishing rod. If you're good, you'll land a big one.

3. Practice in front of a bush.
Wait until the moon is out, then go outside, eat a multi-grained bread and play your guitar to a bush. If the bush dosen't shake, eat another piece of bread.

4. Walk with the devil.
Old Delta blues players referred to guitar amplifiers as the "devil box." And they were right. You have to be an equal opportunity employer in terms of who you're bringing over from the other side. Electricity attracts devils and demons. Other instruments attract other spirits. An acoustic guitar attracts Casper. A mandolin attracts Wendy. But an electric guitar attracts Beelzebub.

5. If you're guilty of thinking, you're out.
If your brain is part of the process, you're missing it. You should play like a drowning man, struggling to reach shore. If you can trap that feeling, then you have something that is fur bearing.

6. Never point your guitar at anyone.
Your instrument has more clout than lightning. Just hit a big chord then run outside to hear it. But make sure you are not standing in an open field.

7. Always carry a church key.
That's your key-man clause. Like One String Sam. He's one. He was a Detroit street musician who played in the fifties on a homemade instrument. His song "I Need a Hundred Dollars" is warm pie. Another key to the church is Hubert Sumlin, Howlin' Wolf's guitar player. He just stands there like the Statue of Liberty-making you want to look up her dress the whole time to see how he's doing it.

8. Don't wipe the sweat off your instrument.
You need that stink on there. Then you have to get that stink onto your music.

9. Keep your guitar in a dark place.
When you're not playing your guitar, cover it and keep it in a dark place. If you don't play your guitar for more than a day, be sure you put a saucer of water in with it.

10. You gotta have a hood for your engine.
Keep that hat on. A hat is a pressure cooker. If you have a roof on your house, the hot air can't escape. Even a lima bean has to have a piece of wet paper around it to make it grow.


Last edited by Otto Reverse on 2018-11-05 06:55; edited 3 times in total
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TPS
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Post 2018-11-03 17:34   [Quote] 
Otto Reverse wrote:
...and no one has ever questioned it

Probably because no one ever believed it.
Such garbage becomes propagated into myth when people repost it and search engines rank it higher when the same content is found on multiple sites.

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pbuzby
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Post 2018-11-03 17:46   [Quote] 
Trying to remember...there's a similar fake "commandments" list going around attributed to Thelonious Monk, I think.
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brainpang
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Post 2018-11-03 19:21   [Quote] 
pbuzby wrote:
Trying to remember...there's a similar fake "commandments" list going around attributed to Thelonious Monk, I think.


Per Monk, there's this one which appears believable, as transcribed by Steve Lacy:
http://www.openculture.com/2017/12/thelonious-monks-25-tips-for-musicians-1960.html
but then I sort of remember another one on Monk floating around too, maybe the one you hazily recall as well.

Good one TPS, I thought the same thing. Why repeat it? Ditto for the Jack White bit. Why repeat it?
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rubbershirt
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Post 2018-11-03 19:46   [Quote] 
Otto Reverse wrote:
First of all, each of the "commandments" is poorly-written and ill-conceived...an idea like "listen to the birds, that's where all the music comes from" just sounds stupid (and Beefheart was not stupid) -- all the music comes from the birds? -- oh, come on please...
I not contesting this statement but for me it immediately made me think of Olivier Messiaen. Not that he's my favorite but I do like his music.

http://www.oliviermessiaen.org/birdsongs.html

Edit: fixed link


Last edited by rubbershirt on 2018-11-04 18:26; edited 1 time in total
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rubbershirt
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Post 2018-11-03 19:49   [Quote] 
On second thought maybe the quote is just mis-credited and is actually Messiaen's 10 Commandments of Guitar Playing...
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NonFoods
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Post 2018-11-07 06:43   [Quote] 
TPS wrote:
Otto Reverse wrote:
...and no one has ever questioned it

Probably because no one ever believed it.
Such garbage becomes propagated into myth when people repost it and search engines rank it higher when the same content is found on multiple sites.


I've seen this list pop up on guitar forums with several people believing it. I never had the time or energy to spend refuting it.

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