Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Birthday, Uncle Frank

It's impossible for me to explain in full the impact Frank Zappa's had on my life. The simplest example I can give is that I date my musical taste "pre-" and "post-Frank." It was through his ideas & sounds that I first encountered Stravinsky, Varese, Boulez, musique concrete, bebop, Captain Beefheart, Tom Waits, Dadaism, the Velvet Underground, what "the clap" was, the Establishment Clause, "secular humanism," CNN's Crossfire, polyrhythmic improvisation, xenochrony, the PMRC, and (most fundamentally) the notion that humour did belong in music, but required a little more sophistication than Weird Al would have you believe.

All this from an impulse purchase using money for my 12th birthday. Who'd have thought a mild curiosity about a novelty record called "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" could blast open such broad horizons.

Funnily enough, my parents were happy that Zappa was one of the ushers for my mental & cultural maturation (and not just 'cuz my Dad loves the guitar solo on "Willie the Pimp"). Sure, they've said, it means I make music too obtuse & experimental to ever be a rich rock star, but what a relief it was to have a son obsessed with a musician who didn't do drugs - and still made weirder music than anyone else.
"Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is THE BEST."~FZ

1 comment:

01001010 said...

There ya go. Zappa, however abrasive or crass on occasion, was a real artiste, not another jingle-jangler like, say, Zimmermann (or his groupies on LS). Po-mo psychoanalytical types (or dare we say surrealists) might discover at least occasional inspiration in FZ's product (Overnite Sensation offers quite a bit of Eros vs. Thanatos, really). Gail and the kids, however, suck.