Monday, January 18, 2010
Orange Claw Hammer by Don Van Vliet
Growing up in North Easton, Massachusetts, my dad informed me at age 16 that I would have to work for him doing landscaping grunt work, like picking up sticks and brush and piling it up in the truck every summer to pay my way to college. He gave me $20 on Friday as spending money. I did this with my dad until I was about 21.
The bonus was he let me work while playing the radio in the truck at full blast. I used to listen to WERS-FM in Boston, the "Jazz Oasis" from 1-3 p.m. while I worked. It was bizarre jazz/fusion music from the Emerson College radio station in Boston. Totally noted out, bass-tapping crazy stuff like James Blood Ulmer and Jack DeJohnette. On the radio!
About the time I got done working with my dad, I bought a copy of "Trout Mask Replica" by Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band. There are two a cappella songs on it, "Orange Claw Hammer" and the "Dust Blows Forward, Dust Blows Back" that Don Van Vliet recorded in 1968 walking around in his back yard with a little cassette recorder, hitting the pause button as he made up each set of lines. I memorized these two songs and used to sing them while I piled brush for dad at peoples' yards on the west side of Brockton. They reminded me a lot of Sam Lightning Hopkins and Blind Lemon Jefferson.
At some point, I did a rendition of "Orange Claw Hammer" onto a cassette recorder.
Here it is.