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Music / Ice Cream for Crow

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Turn up the speakers! Hop flop squawk. It's a keeper!

"The final album, "Ice Cream For Crow", was amongst his very best, but an aging Beefheart now had to face a choice between his respected, but struggling career as a rock guru and his emerging reputation as a painter."
John Peel, in the documentary "The Artist Formerly Known as Captain Beefheart" (1997).

Ice Cream for Crow is a 1982 album by Captain Beefheart, the twelfth in his catalogue. Fan favorites are "Ice Cream for Crow", "Evening Bell", "The Thousand and Tenth Day of the Human Totem Pole" and "The Past Sure Is Tense".

A music video was made for the Title Track, but despite good reviews it would become Beefheart's final album before he withdrew himself from the music industry and became a Reclusive Artist who devoted the rest of his life to painting.


Side One

  1. "Ice Cream for Crow" (4:35)
  2. "The Host the Ghost the Most Holy-O" (2:25)
  3. "Semi-Multicoloured Caucasian" (4:20)
  4. "Hey Garland, I Dig Your Tweed Coat" (3:13)
  5. "Evening Bell" (2:00)
  6. "Cardboard Cutout Sundown" (2:38)

Side Two

  1. "The Past Sure Is Tense" (3:21)
  2. "Ink Mathematics" (1:40)
  3. "The Witch Doctor Life" (2:38)
  4. "81 Poop Hatch" (2:39)
  5. "The Thousandth And Tenth Day of the Human Totem Pole" (5:42)
  6. "Skeleton Makes Good" (2:18)

The remastered version includes a bonus track, "Light Reflected Off the Oceans of the Moon" (4:47).


  • Captain Beefheart: vocals, harmonica, saxophone, Chinese gongs
  • Jeff Moris Tepper: guitar
  • Gary Lucas: guitar
  • Richard Snyder: bass, marimba, viola
  • Eric Drew Feldman: bass, piano
  • Cliff Martinez: drums

Hey Garland, I dig your tropes

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: "The Witch Doctor Life"
    Insecure pouches wherein hide beggars and drones and babies and bums and buzzards
  • Album Filler: "The Witch Doctor Life" and "Cardboard Cutout Sundown" were replacements for the intended original recordings of "Odd Jobs" and "Seam Crooked Sam" that Beefheart initially intended, & then "Skeleton Makes Good" was tacked on shortly thereafter.
  • Alliterative Title: "Cardboard Cutout Sundown", "Semi-Multicolored Caucasian".
  • Animal Motifs: The crow in "Ice Cream for Crow". A wiggle pig, rubber turkey , a rainbow baboon and bumblebees in "Hey Garland, I Dig Your Tweed Coat" and the mama kangaroo in "Witch Doctor Life". "81 Poop Hatch" mentions mice, a ladybug and birds. A wolf is mentioned in "Skeleton Makes Good".
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  • Animate Inanimate Object: "The Thousand and Tenth Day of the Human Totem Pole" describes a human totempole starving from hunger.
    The man at the top had long ago given up
    But didn't have nerve enough to climb down.
    At night the pole would talk to itself and the chatter wasn't too good.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • "81 Poop Hatch"
    But the head won't move until it walks
    • "Ink Mathematics"
    I breathe black and white
  • Badass Longcoat: "Hey Garland, I Dig Your Tweed Coat"
  • Call-Back and Continuity Nod:
    • In "Hey Garland, I Dig Your Tweed Coat" Pena appears again, from the song "Pena" (Trout Mask Replica)
    "And circles don't fly, they float"
    Pena exclaimed and went on to say
    "Sun sure did shine this year, who'd you look like underneath?
    • "The Thousandth and Tenth Day of the Human Totem Pole" refers to "a small child with Statue of Liberty doll", which already appeared as a drawing inside the sleeve of "The Spotlight Kid" (1972), ten years earlier.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: A black-and-white photograph of Beefheart can be seen on the cover. The music video of "Ice Cream for Crow" has parts shot in black-and-white.
  • Dem Bones: "Skeleton Makes Good"
    I have a crush on your skeleton!
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The painting on the album cover was made by Beefheart himself. The photograph of Beefheart was taken by famed rock photographer Anton Corbijn.
  • Executive Meddling: Zappa would not let Beefheart use the four Bat Chain Puller tracks he intended, so he used a rerecording of "The Thousandth And Tenth Day Of The Human Totem Pole" and his own copy of "Poop Hatch" and replaced the remaining tracks "Odd Jobs" and "Seam Crooked Sam" with new tracks.
    • The original release for the LP was to include a bonus poetry LP, but Beefheart refused on the grounds that the executives said they didn't have the budget to pay him for this.
  • Face on the Cover: Beefheart, in a frame, taking his hat off.
  • Handshake Refusal: "Ice Cream for Crow"
    Don't shake my hand, give me your claw
  • Horror Hunger:
    • "81 Poop Hatch"
    Harlem babies - their stomachs explode into roars
    Their eyes shiny with starvation
    • "The Thousand and tenth Day of the Human Totem Pole" depicts a human totem pole whose members are starving to death.
    The man at the top was starving.
    The pole was a horrible looking thing
    With all of those eyes and ears
    And waving hands for balance.
    There was no way to get a copter in close
    So everybody was starving together.
    The man at the top had long ago given up
    But didn't have nerve enough to climb down.
    At night the pole would talk to itself and the chatter wasn't too good.
  • Hurricane of Puns:
    • "Ice Cream for Crow" makes puns on the word "ice cream" and the phrase "I scream". Also this gem:
    Beneath the symbol, we'll all assemble
    • "The Past Sure Is Tense", a pun on the "past tense".
    See those people that used to throw those tents
    You can't see them now
    They're in past tense
  • In Harmony with Nature: Most of the songs evoke animal and nature imagery.
  • Instrumentals: "Semi-Multicoloured Caucasian" and "Evening Bell".
  • Long Title: "The Host the Ghost the Most Holy-O", "Hey Garland I Dig Your Tweed Coat", "The Thousandth and Tenth Day of the Human Totem Pole".
  • Neologism: "The Past Sure Is Tense"
    The carpenter carpenterized my vent
  • Nightmare Face: The human totem pole in "The Thousand and Tenth Day of the Human Totem Pole"
    The man at the top was starving.
    The pole was a horrible looking thing
    With all of those eyes and ears
    And waving hands for balance.
  • Only a Model: "Cardboard Cutout Sundown".
    You hardly know a day goes by
    In the cardboard cutout sundown
  • Repurposed Pop Song: There are a lot of these as Beefheart used the LP to mop up some of his favorite outtakes from previous albums:
    • "Ice Cream For Crow"'s music was first used identically in the Spotlight Kid sessions for a track titled "Drink Paint Run Run" (of which some lyrics would get reused in "Run Paint Run Run" from the previous LP)
    • "Semi Multicolored Caucasian" is a rerecording of a Spotlight Kid outtake that the group used to play on the 'Lick My Decals Off Baby' tour - the song was revived due to Beefheart's wife Jan's desire to see it released prior to him retiring from music.
    • "Hey Garland I Dig Your Tweed Coat" was written in the Trout Mask Replica period. The track originally had sax which the group thought was too distracting, so instead released an instrumental with it reinstated called "Light Reflected Off The Oceands Of The Moon".
    • The end part of "Cardboard Cutout Sundown" is remade from Gary Lucas's solo piece Oat Hate, recorded earlier that year.
    • "The Past Sure Is Tense" is a reworded recording of "Natural Charm" aka "Little Scratch" which was attempted in both the Spotlight Kid and Clear Spot sessions under either name respectively.
    • "The Witch Doctor Life" is a rerecording of a track completed in the Shiny Beast sessions, though much of it is identical to the instrumental song "Dirty Blue Gene" from the Strictly Personal sessions (though nothing to do with the song on Doc At The Radar Station).
    • "81 Poop Hatch" was directly from the unreleased original "Bat Chain Puller" album, albeit taken from Beefheart's own copy of the tape making it a little lower fidelity compared to the official release of that LP.
    • "The Thousand and Tenth Day of the Human Totem Pole" was a re-recording of the track appearing on the then-unreleased original "Bat Chain Puller", only with a squawking sax mid-section added.
  • Rule of Three: "Ice Cream for Crow"
    It's so hot, looks like you have three beaks, crow
  • Spoken Word in Music: "81 Poop Hatch" is a poem recited by Beefheart without any musical accompaniment.
  • Surreal Music Video: The only music video Beefheart ever made, shot in his home region in Lancaster.
  • Taken for Granite: "The Witch Doctor's Life"
    Some flee the dream, some turn to stone
  • Title Track: "Ice Cream for Crow"
    Tonight there'd be ice cream, ice cream for crow
  • Toilet Humor: "81 Poop Hatch" makes mention of a "big poop hatch with a cotton hatch" and "trumpet poop on the ground with peanuts."
  • War Is Hell: "Ink Mathematics"
    Death antiques
    Wrong deductions
    Poor instructions
    Mass destructions
    Peace antiques
  • Winged Humanoid: "The Witch Doctor Life"
    And the heavens ring worn by the shepherd with the folded wings
  • Word Salad Lyrics: All tracks.