Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fuck Yourself ~ A birthday tribute to Zappa


A composer is a guy who goes around forcing his will on unsuspecting air molecules, often with the assistance of unsuspecting musicians.

All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff.

Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.

I never set out to be weird. It was always other people who called me weird.

If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library.

It isn't necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice. There are two other possibilities: one is paperwork, and the other is nostalgia.

Most people wouldn't know music if it came up and bit them on the ass.

Most rock journalism is people who can't write, interviewing people who can't talk, for people who can't read.

Music is always a commentary on society.

Music, in performance, is a type of sculpture. The air in the performance is sculpted into something.

One of my favorite philosophical tenets is that people will agree with you only if they already agree with you. You do not change people's minds.

Politics is the entertainment branch of industry.

Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe.

The computer can't tell you the emotional story. It can give you the exact mathematical design, but what's missing is the eyebrows.

The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced.

Without deviation progress is not possible.

Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid.

You can't always write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say, so sometimes you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream.

You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.

FRANK ZAPPA (21 December 1940 - 4 December 1993) was a massive influence on me. I first heard about Zappa and his band at the time, The Mothers of Invention, in 1967 when I spent a year in New Jersey as an exchange student. In 1968, shortly before I returned to Malaysia, I attended a Zappa concert at Billy Graham's Fillmore East in New York City, and had the singular honor of shaking Frank Zappa's hand and chatting with him for about 3 minutes. I also nodded at Jimmy Carl Black ("the Indian of the group") and crossed the street with Ian Underwood (keyboardist with the Mothers) to buy a few beers. We had a nice little chat, though I can't remember what about.

Before he excused himself to pack his gear, Frank presented me with a chocolate teardrop wrapped in foil. I ate it on the latenight bus heading home - and have never been the same. I realized, over subsequent years, that I had encountered one of the Most Intelligent Humans on Earth. Forty-two years after that initial meeting in New York, that still remains true for me. Thank you, Frank. You live on in my heart and in my neural circuitry.

P.S. Upon my return from the US, I actually wrote several letters to Zappa. Imagine my joy and delight when an envelope arrived on 29 April 1977 bearing Frank Zappa's personal logo. Frank would have been 70 today. I'm sure he won't mind my sharing this letter with you ;-)...

Would you believe I have been meaning to answer your letter since I first received it and just now got around to doing it? Well, you'd better ... anyway, yours was perhaps the most interesting piece of correspondence of the year (was it two or three years ago?)

Who are you? What the fuck are you doing over there? Why are you "almost Chinese"?

Hope to hear from you again.

Your friend,
Frank Zappa

P.S. The photo with the simulated green complexion was most amusing.