“Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.”
Ever since my introduction to Frank Zappa by a friend in High School, I’ve been fascinated with his ability to meld a perfectionist vision with the gift of cultivating the spontaneous. His compositions were arranged meticulously, frequently in odd meter, and with a touch of what he cultivated from the likes of Doo-Wop, Guitar Slim, Igor Stravinsky, and Edgard Varese. His eclectic and experimental approach to creating pushed the boundaries of recorded music and was lyrically unapologetic, satirical, and confrontational.
He could tell it like it is, which I admire, because it is something I struggle with. Like his famous quote above, he knew that rocking the boat, and taking the path less travelled was essential to facilitate growth. Frank Zappa worked hard to establish his unique voice in music history, and fought for what he believed in protect, including protecting the power of free speech, and fighting fear driven censorship.
This book shares the stories of origin, struggle, inspiration, oddity, spontaneity, vision, setback, and triumph of one of my heroes. I’ll never forget the first time I heard Frank Zappa. I was sitting on the floor of my bedroom in my parent’s house with a Sony Discman listening to “Apostrophe/Over-Nite Sensation.” Like the comedy of George Carlin, and the paintings of Jean-Michel Basquiat, his songs were like something I had never experienced before. His music expanded my scope of what was possible, and showed me that anything I wanted to achieve creatively was viable. He taught me not to be afraid.
I’ll leave you with the final line of the book, “It’s been a pleasure talking to you--and don’t forget to register to vote.”