Another Zappa post – useless facts #1

A month or two ago I sent a series of e-mails to allmusic, correcting and commenting upon Francois Couture’s “song comments” for FZ. I have had no feedback for these e-mails, and none of the new details have been appended to the website either, so I thought I’d put some up here – just to while aeay time. (Because I’m unemployed, and angry, again – I must update the blog of the same name sometime soon).

FREAK OUT
Go Cry on Somebody Else’s Shoulder – after 1966, the song remained in the repertoire for the rest of the ’60s, though it was rarely performed. The only versions we know about pre-1978 are from gigs in Detroit and New York Central Park (both in 1968).
The song of course is intentionally “meaningless”, the lyrics full of self-contradictions. Who’s cheating on whom, is he rejecting her now or does he want her back, have they even had a relationship in the first place…? It may have been inspired by Ray and Frank comparing notes on their ex-wives (Ray coined the title during one such conversation), but in the end its real subject is the cliches of love songs.
Motherly Love/Wowie Zowie – performed live in 1966, see MOFO Project Object
You Didnt Try To Call Me – though prompted by a tale told by Pamela Zarubica, it devolved into another meaningless mock-love-song (see above)
Any Way The Wind Blows – though prompted by memories of FZ’s divorce it obviously underwent the familiar devolution into cliche collage (this time the question is: does the new girl exist, is he just threatening his longtime partner, and – given the context – does he have a partner to leave in the first place?) It was in the repertoire almost throughout 1971.
I’m Not Satisfied – It may be that this was partly inspired by FZ’s first divorce and his near-destitution/near-starvation whilst living in Studio Z: for once the despair sounds real, especially in the simplified Ruben & The Jets arrangement (which, unlike FC, I appreciate).
I Aint Got No Heart / Who Are The Brain Police / Help I’m A Rock – Your guess is as good as mine as to what really connects the songs (other than that blast of screaming and guitar-noise that appears in each). The only live performances of Brain Police we know about stem from 1970-71 (this being the “boogie version” captured on the Disconnected Synapses and Carnegie Hall albums). Frank described composing the songs in terms that Gail Zappa interpreted as a hallucinated ghostly-visitation. He probably “dreamt” the song in a sleep-paralysis-like state, on the borders of consciousness (hence his sensation of a threatening stranger at his shoulder dictating the song to him). Help I’m A Rock came into its own as a live vehicle for vocal and instreumental improvisation (after all, early in ’68 it gave birth to Transylvania Boogie – see Road Tapes 1 and Ahead Of Their Time). In fact it was It Can’t Happen Here which was released as a single with How Can I Be Such A Fool (in the UK it became the a-side!) The sequel to Rock is of course, It Can’t Happen Here, which was “busked” onstage on a few occasions in 1967-71 before briefly entering the core repertoire on the Spring ’74 tour. The dialog with Suzy Creamcheese took on its sexual tone as a result of some meddling from MGM – the original line (preserved in the Mothermania and MOFO alternate-edits) was “your development since you first took the shots
Return of The Son Of Monster Magnet – precisely what FZ meant to do with this material will never be known: evidently he envisaged a more elaborate “sound collage”, one which he could not realise due to studio-budget issues.

ABSOLUTELY FREE
Duke Of Prunes
– Ray Collins co-wrote the words but did not fight for a share of the royalties. The music originates in FZ’s score for the film Run Home Slow. No live performances are documented pre-1970 (during the very brief “MOI reunion” it was performed both vocally and instrumentally, as part of a medley). In 1972, during the so-called Petite Wazoo tour, it reached its final form, as an instrumental.
Call Any Vegetable – the arrangement began evolving into ist more familiar form (a la Just Another Band From LA/Freaks and Motherfuckers) as early as 1969. It is to be hoped take 1 of the solo section (Invocation…) is rediscovered – Bunk Gardner maintains he played better first time around.
Why Don’cha Do Me Right – this dates back to the Studio Z era: a much looser version with some entertaining adlibs can be found on Joe’s X-Masage
Big Leg Emma – the title was borrowed from a blues song (possibly by Big Joe Williams?)
Status Back Baby – the final performances of this were on the spring ’71 tour. Interestingly the original Mothers alternated between playing the song in 4/4 and (less frequently) in 12/8 as per the recording.
Son Of Suzy Creamcheese – FC could have mentioned that this is one of FZ’s many “Louie Louie” rewrites, or as someone once said, “yet another squeezing of the Richard berry!”
Brown Shoes Don’t Make It – It’s my beliefe that this controversial song has been misread by both pro- and anti- camps. FZ emphasized, as well he might, the theme that “so many politicians are sexually maladjusted – dirty old men have no business being in City Hall”. But the song also defends adolescent sexuality – the thirteen-year-old girl is not really presented as a “corrupted” victim of abuse, but rather as a self-empowered sexual freedom fighter. This message is especially “unfashionable” at the time of writing, and therefore especially necessary.
America Drinks And Goes Home – Arguably the later arrangement (performed by Jean Luc Ponty and by the “Petite Wazoo”) is more “carictaured”: deleting the vocals (and the “drunken” vocal comedy) but adding new musical elements that are just as “cartoonish” in their own way.

So that’s just the first two albums. I could fill a short book with this – and maybe I will.

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