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Happy Frank-mas!

Posted by Al Barger on December 21, 2004 01:09 AM (See all posts by Al Barger)

Frank Zappa was born 64 years ago today, on December 21, 1940. All hail the spirit of Zappa on this Frank-mas. He's the reason for the season.

Frank rates pretty high as a musician, arranger and composer. In his short life, he really created a lot of work with an amazing range. He could write perfect classic doo wop songs, nasty blues rock, and then off into the classical and experimental spheres- though Frankly he generally rapidly lost me there.

It was his special role as a happy freethinker that makes him one of my top personal heroes, though. Musically, politically, and socially he actually thought things through, and always had his own uniquely considered perspective- which he wasn't afraid to express even if it made him a minority of one.

My favorite non-musical Frank moment was a town hall debate about censoring music he did for a late night CBS news show a few months before the famous senate porn rock hearings. It was Frank on a stage with Tipper Gore herself, and a hostile audience of dried up biddies.

Poor silly woman never knew what hit her. For starters, in her opening statement Mrs Gore charged that these dirty records today promoted drug use, illicit sex, and masturbation.

"What's wrong with masturbation?" asked Frank. She never recovered from that unexpected questioning of the underlying values that she was promoting.

There was something about his friendly but totally direct approach that just can't quite be quantified.

Anyway, you have to get down on some music on Frank-mas. There'll be plenty of time the rest of the week for the typical sappy stuff played for the other big birthday boy of the week.

A personal note on my own highly rated Frank piety: I was very pleased as a high school sophomore in the '70s that my signature gathering and generating skills placed Frank's classic "Titties and Beer" on Dr Demento's Funny Five not once, but twice. I was so proud to hear the Doctor saying my name- and in association with FRANK. "You see, Mr Devil, I'm not your average customer."

Fans of course have their favorites, but newly converted brothers and sisters to the faith might start with some of his more pop oriented albums, such as:

Freak Out!
Absolutely Free
Over-Nite Sensation
(my childhood favorite)
Sheik Yerboutti
Joe's Garage
Strictly Commercial: The Best of Frank Zappa

Happy Frank-mas, and to all a thoughtful and good-humored day.


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