Sunday, November 09, 2008

We're Only In It For The Money

It took only ten minutes for me to go through the Sunday edition of the Chicago Tribune this morning. It was all B.H.O. all the time from cover to cover. I could not bring myself to read the hype. This paper will be used to start a few fireplace infernos, for sure. That was bad enough. Then I saw this:

Jimmy Carl Black was an original member of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention. Black looked a lot like Zappa and I often confused the two on album jackets. In the obituary it mentions Black’s memorable line between two songs on one album “Hi boys and girls I’m Jimmy Carl Black and I’m the Indian of the group”. Black was Cheyenne. My close friend and Zappa fan Chris (living the good life in Colorado) and I still keep in touch and we have shared Black info recently. Turns out that J.C.B. was still active musically and had a website too.

This news brought back instant memories of my youth. I was a huge fan of everything Frank Zappa did. His music was unusual and innovative. He could give any pro guitarist a run. He did rock and roll. He was very improvisational and borrowed from classical and jazz. He was far from the mainstream and his acidic satire took a bite out of everything from doo-wop to disco, L.A. hippies to politicians and everything in between. Most often he made fun of top 20 music and pop culture of the 60’s and 70’s. He took pride in composing music that would not get airtime on commercial radio.

In a closet near the stereo I still have old Zappa vinyl. Can’t count how many 8-tracks and cassettes that I lost on the way but I have been buying digital Zappa online to replenish what I lost.

A graphic designer named Cal Schenkel was responsible for most Zappa album covers. They were as classic as any album designs by Roger Dean, Frank Frazetta or Stanley Mouse. All these guys were my inspiration and motivation to become a professional graphic designer. Yep, we're all in it for the money.

There are so many great Zappa classics. His music is not appreciated by the masses. Here is my favorite Zappa tune of all time. Peaches en Regalia from the album Hot Rats. It may need time to load but it's worth it.


Dan from Madison said...

Heh, I have always been a huge Zappa fan as well. Every year or so I take it as a personal mission to listen to all of the "Guitar" discs in succession over a few days. Unmatched in its musical class.

Bobby Brown ranks pretty high up there for satirical bite.

Some of Zappa's stuff was so complex even he said that he and whatever band he had at the time couldn't play it right.

But as you know, we could go on forever here.

Chris from Colorado said...

Great blog Gerry!

As I recall, we sat in the back row at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago, on Thanksgiving 1976, and experienced up a fine Zappa concert.

As a collector of Zappa's music for over 40 years, which includes vinyl that I still have, including many bootlegs, over 70 tribute band CDs, and of course all of Franks music on CD, of which, yesterday, I purchased the recently released 'One Shot Deal' and 'The Dub Room Special!', and as some one who has read about Zappa for years and met him back stage the Auditorium in Chicago back in 1970 (and still has the autograph he gave me), and as someone with more than a dozen Zappa T-shirts, and despite my wife's increasing claim to territory in our basement, I still have my Zappa shrine, you probably think I am obsessed, no, I am just plain deranged. I'm the slime on sinking ship, arriving too late, to save a drowning Camarillo Brillo from Utopia.

Yes Dan, we could go on forever.


Hoy, Hoy, Hoy.

Gerry from Valpo said...

Thanksgiving 1976? I remember going but not the date, thanks. Now I am racking my brain trying to count how many big acts we saw at the Auditorium Theatre.

What a great place it was. Not a speck of cereal. Nothing but the best for my dog.