T. Renner, "Portrait of Don Van Vliet (After Anton Corbijn)," 2010, gouache on paper, 4.25" x 5.5".
This is a portrait of Don Van Vliet that I did shortly after hearing about his death earlier this year.
It's based on a photograph of Don Van Vliet by Anton Corbijn, who has collaborated on a book with Tom Waits.
In a recent interview, Tom Waits had this to say about Don Van Vliet (also known as Captain Beefheart):
I can’t say we were close friends, but he corresponded with a lot of people, and as he got slower and more incapacitated, he was on the phone a lot. And I had asked if I could call him, and I did. And he was very quick, and bright, and original and cultural right up until the end.
It seems as though you channel him a few times on [your new album] Bad as Me, especially in the title track.
Yeah, yeah, well, I hope so. Isn’t that what we all really kind of — we want to enter the culture, we want to enter the bloodstream and be part of the soil, so that when other people are growing they say, “I see that, I see that.” He was such a unique individual. I think he was constantly covering up his tracks. He was very secretive about his process. He was a riddle. And then you have his songs, and you have those to wonder about. I just played “China Pig” for an Australian radio show, and they said, “Pick a bunch of songs that you want to play,” and we put that on and it was really great to hear. That’s when you realize that words are music. Period.