“Now is that a real poncho or is that a Sears poncho?”
To say that Frank Zappa was a unique individual is like saying the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. It’s a given. The thing is – for me – that he had a ridiculously absurdist sense of play and humor, was a great musician and was extremely serious about his craft.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it wasn’t so much that he was a weirdo but that he enjoyed playing one. (And contrary to his image and every expectation of a Sixties guy, was so notoriously anti-substance that he neither drank nor did hard drugs. And admitted to having maybe 10 joints in his entire life. Alas, smoked cigarettes like a fiend which likely caused his early demise. He died in 1993 at 52 years of age.)
Zappa was, if nothing else, prolific. By the time Apostrophe (‘) was released in 1974, he had already released 17 albums. According to Wikipedia, if you include posthumous albums he has 112 releases! I don’t pretend to know every single Zappa release so maybe there is a better album. But for me, this is the epitome of all the crazy shit he pulled together in his lifetime.
Let me ask you this question. How many albums do you personally know that contain the following?
- An Eskimo named Nanook
- Pancake breakfast
- Unmitigated audacity
- Deadly yellow snow
- Both Sugarcane Harris AND Jean-Luc Ponty
- Not to mention Jack Bruce and Jim Gordon
- Dominus vobiscum
- Dog-doo snow cone
- Abused sausage patties
That’s what I thought. If you ask what any of this means or why you should care you are decidedly on the wrong track if not the wrong planet. Zappa may well not be for you.
But if you go with the flow, I’m sure that you will enter the weird world of Frank Zappa and come out either A) irrevocably changed or 2) weasels having ripped your flesh. There is no middle ground.
I’ll let you listen to the opening suite while I go investigate an email I just got that says, “Invest in mining cryptocurrency $5000 once and get passive income of $7000 per month.” Sorry guys, it’s all mine. You snooze you lose.*
“Here it goes the circular motion – rub it!”
It’s almost impossible to not want to play the whole album. (Which you can do on the Spotify link.) So how can I avoid “Cosmik Debris” wherein Frank confronts and debunks a psychic? “But I got the crystal ball,” he said. A great song with a great, bluesy Zappa solo. (Have I mentioned that he was a terrific guitarist?)
I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep
I said some mumbo-jumbo, then
I told him he was going to sleep
I robbed his rings and pocket watch
And everything else I found
I had that sucker hypnotized
He couldn’t even make a sound
I proceeded to tell him his future, then
As long as he was hanging around
I said the price of meat has just gone up
And your old lady has just gone down
*This turned out to be a dead end!!