“Captain Beefheart was a really great artist, and I used to listen to Trout Mask Replica all the time.” – David Lynch.
In the realms of counterculture creatives operating on the outskirts of artistic thinking but with an unusual ability to influence the commercial mainstream, both David Lynch and Captain Beefheart dominated in their own respected fields. Here, we revisit the moment the directed paid tribute to one of the most experimental musicians of all time with a rendition of his classic track ‘Pena’.
The song, which is taken from Beefheart’s iconic third studio album Trout Mask Replica, was released as part of a double album in 1969 and produced by Beefheart’s childhood friend Frank Zappa.
Lynch has made no secret of his admiration for Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band in the past, even appearing in Anton Corbijn’s short film about Beefheart entitled Some Yoo Stuff. So, when Magic Band guitarist Gary Lucas came calling to ask him to participate in a tribute show, Lynch couldn’t refuse. “Captain Beefheart was a really great artist, and I used to listen to Trout Mask Replica all the time,” the director famously said.
The evening of celebration, which focused on Beefheart’s music and poetry, was held at The Knitting Factory Main Space in New York City and included the likes of Lee Ranaldo, Alan Vega, Hal Willner and more as special guests.
Lucas, who went to great lengths to curate the show in 2008, managed to reach out to Lynch to participate. However, due to scheduling conflicts, Lynch was unable to attend but still wanted to contribute so headed to a studio in LA to record a recital of ‘Pena’ for the occasion.
Through audio effects that feel vintage Lynch, the director begins in his wonderfully minimal approach: Pena, her little head clinking / Like a barrel of red velvet balls full past noise / Treats filled her eyes / Turning them yellow like enamel-coated tacks / Soft like butter, hard not to pour out enjoying the sun / While sitting on a turned-on waffle iron / Smoke billowing up from between her legs / Made me vomit beautifully”.
Lynch concludes: “Let escape one yellow butterfly the same size / Its droppings were tiny green phosphorous worms / That moved in tuck and rolls / That clacked and whispered in their confinement / Three little burnt scotch taped windows several yards away / Mouths open to tongues that vibrated and lost saliva / Pena exclaimed, ‘That’s the raspberries’.”
Listen to the full recording, below.