One of the heroes of the Prof’s youth was Frank Zappa. I must have been about three when I first heard “Let’s Make the Water Turn Black” and “Plastic People,” from a reel-to-reel dub my dad bootlegged from a friend and that I would take for myself about eight years later. Likewise, the first rock show I ever attended was an FZ show on May 7, 1980 at the Schmitt Fieldhouse in Cincinnati — my dad took me.
When I was a kid, I didn’t realize how complex the music was –I dug it primarily because I thought songs about plastic people and little creatures were funny and cool. By the time I was 11 or twelve, I started figuring out the social commentary, and as I’ve said before, Zappa was one of the people who taught me it was OK to be really, really weird. Once I started taking drumming seriously, I was astounded at how difficult this stuff was to play. I spent hours trying to figure out some of the parts from “Mother People,” not realizing there were two drummers.
Although the Beatles remain my favorite artists, and although Klaatu’s Hope is still my favorite album, I suspect that I’ve listened to We’re Only In It for the Money more than any other album in my life — literally hundreds of times over the years, playing it over and over when I’d spend the night with friends. With the snobbery of youth, one of the intelligence tests I gave acquaintances was whether or not they could “get” Zappa on some level. As I said, he was responsible in part for my willingness not to fit in, and while that was painful at the time, in retrospect I was lucky to have run into his work.
All of this is a lead in to the news that FZ’s home town of Baltimore has placed a bust of Frank near a public library. It’s about time.
H/T: New blogrollee University Diaries.