A few weeks ago, Harvey gave a speech at London’s Michael Werner Gallery, which was opening an exhibition of the cult legend’s paintings. Captain Beefheart (real name Don Van Vliet) is best known for his experimental rock records, including 1969’s ‘Trout Mask Replica’. Harvey has previously cited Beefheart as an inspiration to her music, and eventually befriended him.
Before his death in 2010, Beefheart wrote a poem for Harvey inspired by her cat, Garden. Written in 2001 and entitled ‘Man Can’t Anticipate Cat’, Harvey introduced the poem by explaining its backstory.
“Don loved cats”, she said, saying the poem was inspired by photographs she had sent him of Garden. “My cat was named Garden, probably sort of in homage to Garland. And he moved in with me when I was living in Bristol… and never left. He just climbed through the window one day. Anyway, Don loved talking about Garden, and he loved looking at pictures of him.”
Watch the poem reading below:
PJ Harvey is due to play a huge show at Gunnersbury Park this August. She will be joined on the day by Big Thief, Tirzah and Shida Shahabi.
“I have chosen what I feel to be some of the most exciting artists working today,” she said of her support acts. “With them I hope to be able to give the audience an emotional, heartening and uplifting experience.” Find any remaining tickets here.
Earlier this year, Harvey also shared her first album in seven years, ‘I Inside The Old Year Dying’. In a four-star review of that, NME said it was “an immersive return from a modern master”.
“I think the album is about searching, looking… and seeking meaning,” Harvey said recently. While the meaning part is sometimes tough to decipher – far more so than her previous work – it’s not the answer here that’s important but the journey. It takes a little time to immerse yourself in Harvey’s world, but once there, you won’t want to leave.”