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PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 11:04 pm 
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Well since nobody felt my last post was worth replying to, I'll try again.

I sometimes try to imagine how Europeans take Zappa's music, since he himself has said they can't really understand it like Americans can. Obviously they can see that he makes brilliant music, but the subtleties of the humorous musical cues, lyrical references, and overall product packaging of his works rely, in my estimation at least, on great familiarity with what it was like to live in the United States during his time, and with the trends and popular influences that were in effect during those years.

Just one example is his quip, "The diamond is the hardest substance known to man" in a live version of Joe's Garage. Who is going to really understand the humor of that, outside of a select group of broadcast television viewers in the United States who were watching TV back in the early 1980s? (For the curious, it refers to a TV advertisement, the shot-on-video-not-film low-budget kind, in the USA for a line of cookware called Armour Coat, a collection of Teflon coated pots and pans. In the video, you see a woman's hand over a kitchen counter and on her finger is a fabulous diamond ring. Suddenly, a prepared, raw chicken drops on top of her hand from above, driving home the point to the television viewer that, in spite of the fact that the diamond is the world's hardest substance (naturally occurring, you nitpickers), you can't cook on a diamond. Which is why you need to buy the fucking pans! You can probably find something on Youtube about it. But who the hell would know to look? And what about 20 years from now? A century? These thoughts often keep me awake at night.

Remember back in school when they made you read old shit from a long-ass time ago and it's all boring as fuck? I don't believe Zappa's musical legacy will ever be in total danger of that, but something tells me that when the culture is gone, it diminishes the impact of the artists of that culture on future generations. We read these old-ass stories in old-fashioned languages and probably are only soaking up like 2% of the subtle inflection, humor, in-jokes, wordplay, etc. and these stories seem stupid and headache-inducing. I share a fair amount of cultural overlap with Frank, but he was born to my parents' generation and not mine, and it's taken me quite a number of years to be clued into much of the humor of his stuff that references the past. I probably will never get all of it. Now imagine some guy in Finland trying to figure it out.

Zappa's music itself is littered with references to television and radio shows from the 40s on through to the early 90s, not to mention his nods to other composers and musicians. In order to get the real flavor of the humor, I'm afraid you sort of needed to be there. I wonder what the effects will be when future generations listen to his works?

Comments, anyone?


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2017 12:05 am 
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Some of it doesn't because it's based on things with a short shelf life:
"She's frosting a cake with a paper knife"

Others will because it is based on tropes:
"...and there's always a girl who falls down and twists her ankle"

And others because it will always be topical - lying politicians and child abusing clergymen for instance.

Since I'm in stitches every time I hear "this is the Central Scwootinaiser", I think part of his humour will stand the tests of time.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2017 4:45 pm 
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McMick wrote:
"She's frosting a cake with a paper knife"


For the curious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxcQRFBkeRw

I remembered it as Duncan Hines, but apparently it was Pillsbury.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2017 5:20 pm 
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I think new (or foreign) listeners of the original albums will at least understand that he is being humorous even if they don't get all the references. It may inspire some to research those references and in turn learn a little history. I think I learned more about a lot of things by trying to figure what he was talking about during the time it was happening than I ever did from school.

At the same time, future musicians and listeners will be able to learn and appreciate Zappa music independent of the original albums, lyrics, and vocals. In a way this is good because it strips away the buffoonery and presents the music unadulterated. In the end, the most important thing about Zappa is the music. Make no mistake though, even without the lyrics and vocals Zappa's music can still be funny as hell.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2017 6:35 pm 
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Interviewer: As a man with a sense of history, though, do you have any idea of how you'd like to be remembered?

FZ: I don't care whether I'm remembered. As a matter of fact, there's a lot of people who would like to forget about me as soon as possible, and I'm on their side! You know? Just . . . hurry up and get it over with. I do what I do because I like doing it, I do it for my amusement first, if it amuses you . . . that's fine. I'm happy that you'll participate in it. But, uh, after I am dead and gone, there is no need to deal with any of this stuff, because it is not written for future generations, it is not performed for future generations. It is performed for now. Get it while it's hot, you know? That's it.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2017 10:44 pm 
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Frank threw loads of cultural references into his music. For example, half of Billy the Mountain is probably unintelligible to anyone who wasn't living in southern California in 1971. And to fully appreciate the Central Scrutinizer repeating "The white zone is for loading and unloading only" over and over and over, you really have to spend an hour or two at LAX, waiting outside Baggage Claim for someone to pick you up.

But plenty of people got a kick out of Valley Girl, despite not having a fucking clue where Sherman Oaks is. And horny teenage guys were able to appreciate Titties and Beer without knowing it was based on "The Soldier's Tale" by Igor Stravinsky.

Context is important, except when it isn't...

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 23, 2017 11:52 am 
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MentalTossFlycoon wrote:
And horny teenage guys were able to appreciate Titties and Beer without knowing it was based on "The Soldier's Tale" by Igor Stravinsky.


What you say might be right, but I'd like to know what brought you to that conclusion. I know Zappa loved Stravinsky, but the stories are so different, it makes it difficult for me to believe it was based on it. Maybe "inspired by" would be more accurate? If you can cite some information, I'd love to know more about it.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 23, 2017 11:59 am 
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Titties 'n Beer tells how a Devil tries to make a deal with a biker. In Stravinsky's "L' Histoire Du Soldat" the Devil tries to make a deal with a soldier. At one point the Devil in "Titties & Beer" namedrops Stravinsky when Zappa makes him guess what his two main interests are.

http://wiki.killuglyradio.com/wiki/Igor_Stravinsky


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 23, 2017 12:38 pm 
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Oh, and don't forget Billy The Mountain! Mostly references you'd really have to be from NoCal to get them, but try not to laugh at:
"Well Billy just laughed!"
(band altogether in the lowest possible voice:)
"HUUUUUH HUUUUUUUUH HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUH!!!"

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 23, 2017 12:59 pm 
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BBP wrote:
Oh, and don't forget Billy The Mountain! Mostly references you'd really have to be from NoCal to get them, but try not to laugh at:
"Well Billy just laughed!"
(band altogether in the lowest possible voice:)
"HUUUUUH HUUUUUUUUH HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUH!!!"


La la la, nice lady....

I always smile when I hear "What ish thish a quizzzshh?"


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 2:15 am 
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Information is not knowledge :wink:

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 10:43 pm 
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Mr. Nice Guy wrote:
Titties 'n Beer tells how a Devil tries to make a deal with a biker. In Stravinsky's "L' Histoire Du Soldat" the Devil tries to make a deal with a soldier. At one point the Devil in "Titties & Beer" namedrops Stravinsky when Zappa makes him guess what his two main interests are.

http://wiki.killuglyradio.com/wiki/Igor_Stravinsky


Not to drag this out unnecessarily, but that only appears to have happened in one performance, and it's common knowledge that Frank loved Stravinsky, so it wouldn't surprise me that it came out of Terry's mouth. Be that as it may, there are numerous other tales on which to base Titties N' Beer, and Frank was an American and steeped in that culture and all of its numerous Devil stories. The Devil and Daniel Webster, for example.

Though Stravinsky's story may have inspired him to do his own, they are clearly divergent on the details and completely opposite in the way they end, which makes me think he did NOT base his story on Stravinsky's. At this time I believe the idea that he based his story on Stravinsky's is just speculation.


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