The first time PG saw the word Zappa, it was on an item at the Poster Hut. It showed a man sitting on a commode, with the words Phi Zappa Krappa rendered above. The poser, Frank Zappa, later said “I’m probably more famous for sitting on the toilet than for anything else that I do.”
It was 1969, give or take a bit. FZ was already well known in some hip circles. His band, the Mothers of Invention, played at something called the Cosmic Carnival at Atlanta Stadium, where the music lovers were actually allowed onto the field. PG paid $1.98 for a copy of We’re Only in It for the Money at the Woolco on Buford Hiway. Years later, he would pay $16.00 for a CD of this piece of work.
The records started to come out like clockwork, with or without the Mothers. FZ started to become a star, with an appeal to druggies who fancied themselves intellectual. It should be noted that FZ was notoriously anti drug. His music made fun of the establishment and counterculture with equal glee. FZ was also a capitalist, known to be tight fisted when it came to paying hired hands. He stayed with his second wife, Gail, until his death, and produced four children… Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen.
The concerts came to town every year or so, and people liked them. A show at the Fox Theater in 1974 may have caught FZ at his peak. PG heard the raves about this show until he bought a ticket for his next show. This was in 1975, at the Municipal Auditorium. PG brought a half pint in with him, and didn’t remember a lot later, except some song about the Illinois Eneman Bandit.
Life goes on. Nine years later, FZ was in legal hell with a former manager, and could only make money by touring. One night, a friend had an extra ticket to a show. PG arrived after the band had started, and FZ was playing a fine guitar solo. This was going to be good.
Only it wasn’t. The rest of the show was social commentary. The man had opinions on everything, and was generous with them. At one point, the band started to sing “He’s so gay”, while a double headed dildo was lowered from the ceiling. PG thinks he heard FZ sing “one day you might be gay too”, but by then it really didn’t matter.
Frank Zappa was many things to many people. He had lots of opinions, which were dutifully recorded by the press. Here are a few .
Rock journalism is people who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t talk, in order to provide articles for people who can’t read. // I think that if a person doesn’t feel cynical then they’re out of phase with the 20th century. Being cynical is the only way to deal with modern civilization, you can’t just swallow it whole. // When God created Republicans, he gave up on everything else. // Let’s not be too rough on our own ignorance; it’s what makes America great! // The U.S. is a mere pup tent of a civilization. We’ve got two hundred years of stupidity behind us and we think we’re right up there with everyone else who’s been doing it for thousands of years. // Beauty is a pair of shoes that makes you wanna die. // After all, he wrote this book here, and in the book it says he made us all to be just like him! So if we’re dumb, then God is dumb — and maybe even a little ugly on the side. // Remember there’s a big difference between kneeling down and bending over. // Do you think you are protecting somebody by taking away seven words? // For the record, folks; I never took a shit on stage and the closest I ever came to eating shit anywhere was at a Holiday Inn buffet in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in 1973. // If you wind up with a boring, miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest or some guy on TV telling you how to do your shit, then YOU DESERVE IT. // There is no hell. There is only France. // The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced. // Children are naïve — they trust everyone. School is bad enough, but, if you put a child anywhere in the vicinity of a church, you’re asking for trouble. // People make a lot of fuss about my kids having such supposedly ‘strange names’, but the fact is that no matter what first names I might have given them, it is the last name that is going to get them in trouble. //
The reviews at Amazon sometimes have insights into the truth about an artist. Here are a few one star reviews of We’re Only in It for the Money.
I just don’t get this October 11, 2010 By Neomorphus “Neomorphus” (Superior, Colorado)
This is unlistenable. I could only get half way through before giving up. Too clever for me.
Put the kettle on June 7, 2006 By Noddy Box (New York)
This high-pitched snit fit might rouse the odd smirk if all you’ve consumed is a cup of tea and a Digestive biscuit but on no account listen to it under the influence of anything stronger because then you’re liable to prang right into a hectoring bore who comes off like some renegade member of the school debating team rehearsing his–fnarr fnarr–naughty rhyming rebuttals. Farting around in Edgar Varese’s old corduroys is all well and good but this breathtakingly condescending harangue sounds depressingly like–dear oh dear–social commentary. Jacobs Cream Crackers but is there anything more tedious than windy social commentary set to popular music? And the exhortation to read Kafka in the liner notes? Please Frank, rock stars should never mix their drinks, or at least not so the stitches show. Zappa is much more bearable when he takes his own advice, shuts his cakehole and plays guitar. Like on Hot Rats, where the only vocal is the sublime Beefy on Willie the Pimp and Frank in the kitchen the whole time cooking up a kettle of wordless aural gumbo–a movie for the ears I think he called it, something like that anyway, it’s right there on the sleeve, good description at any rate of one of the authentically crunchy Zappa records. Well he did release over sixty of them after all, I mean he was bound to get it right once or twice, wasn’t he? So toss this turkey on the fire and get yourself out onna porch of the Lido Hotel.