If you are a singer-songwriter and you didn’t feel good about the singer part, you had to encounter Don Van Vliet. Like most I heard him first on Zappa’s HOT RATS and although he sang only on that track, his voice and persona colored the album as much as the day-glo purple that infused the front cover photo.

On Trout Mask Replica was the great divide. You were either dust blown in or dust blown out. But if you were in what a great carnival of sound and poetry would always be there! You became part of his wonderful wobbly artful world.

Like most I heard the Buddah, bluesy recordings later. Go find Diddy Wah Diddy, Abba Zabba, Zig Zag Wanderer, Drop Out Boogie, and come back to his world through his R&B roots.

You get infused with his spirit, and that was good for this singer-songwriter because even more than Dylan or Neil Young or Lou Reed, Don Van Vliet’s Captain Beefheart showed me that the singer had to be the song.

Last night when I read about his death I couldn’t find any of his CD’s in my shelves. My turntable is messed up and so I just looked at all the album covers. This morning I thought to look in my son Miles’ room. There where all the CDs: SHINY BEAST, TROUT MASK, SAFE AS MILK, DOC AT RADAR STATION, the Dust box set and others.

Again, the dust blows forward.

Thank you Don.

—Chris LeRoy

3 comments to DUST BLOWS FORWARD:Don Van Vliet

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