Backstage Stories: The Mad, Musical World of Frank Zappa, The Father of Invention

via (musicoholics) by Alva Yaffe

When Frank Zappa first appeared on national TV in 1963, he was running a violin bow across a bicycle wheel. He was the front man of the band Mothers of Invention, and their music was, well, weird. He combined several genres, complex instruments, and absurd lyrics (listen to the song Montana, with lyrics about a man raising crops of dental floss).

For some reason, Zappa isn’t one of the musicians that many people talk about these days. He passed away in 1993 (from cancer), days before his 53rd birthday. But in that (relatively) short lifespan, he released more than 60 albums, wrote experimental classical music, and made a surrealist film with a rock star puppet… to name a few. Zappa was prolific, eccentric, fearless, and truly one of a kind. And it might have a little something to do with the fact that he was raised in a biohazardous environment, in which his toys were mercury and gas masks.

That’s exactly why he deserves a spotlight…

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Video of the Week: Mashing Up the Genius of Weird Al and Frank Zappa

This fan-made video made to accompany “Weird Al’ Yankovic’s “Genius in France” only sharpens one’s view of the incredible genius of our greatest and most ambitious song parodist.

His roughly nine-minute Zappa parody hits the bullseye again and again as the veteran comic rocker (with a little help from Dweezil Zappa, who plays the opening guitar solo) nails one idiosynchratic Zappa musical and vocal moment after another.

The second-most amazing thing–after the fact that anyone would bother writing a nine-minute Zappa parody–is that vocally Yankovic singlehandidly parodies the parts of Zappa and various lead and backup singers. Male and Female.

Some speculate that the premise of the song references (allegedly) comic actor Jerry Lewis, whose lowbrow comedic acting was better received in France than in his home country of America. Definitely the type of thing Zappa would have written a song about.

If you’re a fan of Zappa’s work, every ridiculous note of this will prove what a Mother of Invention “Weird Al” Yankovic is.

Genius indeed.

Video of the Week: Frank Zappa on the Decline of the Music Industry

Songs You May Have Missed #137


Frank Zappa: “Sexual Harrassment in the Workplace” (1988)

Zappa’s freaky side is well known even to the non-fan. But his versatility as a guitarist is an often overlooked facet of his artistry. Here he plays it straight on an instrumental blues solo. If you didn’t know who it was and had to guess, how many rockers would you have named before Zappa?

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