All over the Internet are people who spew their opinions and pretend that they are actual facts. And many of the same people review or “react” to pop culture is that is almost as old as I am.
So, what am I planning on doing here? Listening to every Frank Zappa album that has been released and giving my thoughts on it. At least I won’t be pretending that my opinions are actual fact. But the cultural references will legitimately be vintage.
So, let me be Frank about this. I first came across Zappa when I was in high school, thanks to Dr. Demento. The first album I ever owned by Frank was “Sheik Yerbouti,” which I thought was hilarious at the time.
There is no way I can claim to be unbiased about Frank’s music or that I am “reacting” to his albums. But I can begin to tell you my biases.
I do fall into the camp that considers Zappa a musical genius. In my opinion that is undeniable, especially given his lack of education and training in music theory. That being said, he certainly was not perfect and his recorded output is quite variable in quality.
One issue I have with his music now is that my tastes have shifted. Musically, he was very influenced by the likes of Edgar Varese and Free Jazz. I find myself not being very fond of dissonant music in my old age and there are times I find it downright irritating. So, I have my rough moments with Frank’s music.
And then there is his lyrics. They range from brilliantly ahead of their time to downright purile. Yes, there was a trend in the 1970s that using any “colorful” language was automatically hilarious. Years of watching sanitized TV will do that to you. But Frank went beyond that. His lyrics are not just sexual, but also misogynistic and homophobic. Sometimes so misogynistic and homophobic it is hard to listen to.
It has never been clear to me whether Frank thought that he was merely pandering to his audience (which is bad enough.) It has always seemed as if there was a thread of, “If I have to sing about titties and beer to get you to listen to my more serious music, I’ll do that.” Or at least it seemed that way to me. But let’s face it, that attitude sucks. Miles Davis didn’t need to sing about groupies to gain an audience. It also seems to me that Frank just couldn’t help himself. He LIKED singing about groupies and titties and beer. So that part of the legacy remains and as Frank himself said (paraphrasing) he was who he am, a cow don’t make ham.
I hope you will join me through my fun little journey. There are actually many of Frank’s albums I have never listened to from beginning to end, so I am mostly looking forward to this!