12-19-08 It’s Frank Zappa’s birthday on 12/21!
I do not usually blog on weekends – so today I mention that this coming Sunday, American composer Frank Zappa would’ve been 67 (68?) years old. He passed away 15 years ago, as several friends reminded me.
I continue to be a fan of Mr. Zappa’s music. Some of his early records are defining moments in my own life. Records that helped make me who I am – whoever that is! I cannot over-state how influential records like “Absolutely Free”, “We’re Only In It For The Money” and “Lumpy Gravy” were to me. Those records helped ‘open my ears’. I heard them all when I was so young – it was a time when just about anything still could’ve entered my consciousness – on the deepest possible level.
I listened to all of those LP’s so extensively and deeply – every word, every nuance is permanently etched in my brain / heart / soul. Yep, I can hear the differences between the mono and stereo versions of “We’re Only In It For The Money” quite easily. I once sat down and wrote out what I could determine were all of the points of difference, between the two versions – it ran to something 140 points! I grew up with the first three Zappa LP’s in mono, and that’s how I know them best. So far, none of the mono versions have ever appeared on CD, legit. You can hear a pretty good version of “Freak Out” in the 4CD “MOFO – Making of Freak Out” boxed set; “Absolutely Free” always sounds ‘processed” (echo / reverb?) on CD; the MFSL gold disc of “We’re Only In It For The Money” sounds good, but it’s the (slightly) edited stereo version. “Lumpy Gravy” sounds good on the re-mastered CD; there is no CD of the LP version of “Cruisin’ With Ruben & The Jets” (also no CD of the LP version of “Hot Rats”).
Perhaps you have records like this in your collection – records you know completely, which are part of your ‘experience’. Records that helped ‘define you’. Maybe they’re not Frank Zappa records – but those are definitely mine. Some records are nostalgia, others remain relevant in your everyday life. In my instance, I grew ever more fond of the early Zappa records, as the years moved on – I ‘agreed’ with most of what was said and how it was said, I clearly understood the author’s intention etc. Let’s say I have interpreted those early Frank Zappa albums as “truth” – in my book.
So, I hope to help everybody remember the works of Mr. Zappa. The majority of his works are superlative musical efforts, in my opinion. In most cases, it is not what I would call “Popular music” – but rather music that is for individuals. Your experience with Zappa’s music can be very personal. I have several friends I can really discuss Frank Zappa with – but most people tend to be dismissive towards his work, as though all of it was atonal, and filled with objectionable language (and / or ideas).
Thanks for reading my words about Mr. Frank Zappa. If you’re a fan – what are your favorite works of Mr. Zappa? If you’re not a fan – why not?
Labels: Frank Zappa