The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

The Present Day Composer #11


Frank Zappa (1940-1993)

4 comments :

Dan said...

Sincere thanks for posting a homage to Mr. Zappa. We are lucky to have been witness to the creative genius in action. There should be statues of Frank in every major city.

Tom Sutpen said...

Hear hear!

I probably should have included Zappa much earlier in this series. His music and his cultural/social attitudes were a major influence on me growing up (when I was a film critic as a youngster, my byline read "Tom Sutpen Sez: Kill Ugly Cinema!")and he was, after all the source . . . by way of the first Mothiers of Invention LP, "Freak Out!" . . . of the Edgard Varese quote which this series is named after.

Hopefully I'll find some way in the future to pay him the tribute that he deserves. As a society, statues of Zappa in every city would be a good beginning, though.

Rob said...

Frank was a seminal influence on my youth, I saw him in many concerts. Tom Waits opened for him a number of times, and it was just like a ritual for me to see him once or twice a year at least. It was kinda sad to see the various original members of the Mothers drop by the wayside until Frank was all that was left. Captain Beefheart and Frank were two tapes I drove around with for years, and I got a lot people into Frank, too. He is sorely missed. Sniff.

BCNU

Tom Sutpen said...

Rob wrote:

Frank was a seminal influence on my youth, I saw him in many concerts. Tom Waits opened for him a number of times, and it was just like a ritual for me to see him once or twice a year at least. It was kinda sad to see the various original members of the Mothers drop by the wayside until Frank was all that was left.

*****
Well, even the original Mothers of Invention lineup was never solid. For instance, Elliott Ingber was with the band for close to two years, but only played on "Freak Out!"; Ray Collins was nowhere to be found on "We're Only In It for the Money", etc. So when Zappa announced he was breaking up the Mothers at the Newport Jazz Festival in '69 (according to his autobiography it was a decision he came to after he'd witnessed Duke Ellington begging promoter George Wein for ten bucks), he wasn't so much breaking up the band as he was separating parts that had never been firmly nailed together.

The Mothers of Invention were always a little bit like those ever-changing editions of The Modern Lovers after 1975. It was Frank and whoever he brought into the studio or on the road with him.