Whenever I write music reviews, (which is daily,) there’s only two people I’m trying to impress – both of whom happen to be dead. One is my hero Lester Bangs, who believed that the art of producing rock-based literature could and should be just as big a part of rock and roll as the music itself. And the other guy is good ole’ Frank Zappa, who famously said “Most rock journalism is people who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t talk, for people who can’t read.” So literally whenever I write something, I always ask myself if Bangs and Zappa would think it was cool. Today marks the 20th anniversary of Zappa’s death, and the idea of mourning over something so long dead and gone is surely a move that Frank himself would be repulsed by. However, one thing I know Frank would be immensely proud of is the fact that his music still has the power to offend people. It’s 2013 and every wall of human decency has been broken down. 2 Live Crew have become a historical footnote, Marilyn Manson is remembered as a showboat joke, and Eminem is everybody’s favorite “misunderstood” white guy who loves to drop words that only FoxNews still thinks people get offended by. But for some reason, be it the force or talent behind the words, I still manage to rifle the feathers of seemingly intelligent women by playing tracks like “Crew Slut.”
I feel like every die-hard Zappa fan reaches a point in their life where they’re tired of trying to turn new heads on to Frank. It’s like, “Fine, if you still can’t understand that ‘Flakes’ is one of the greatest songs of all time, then I’ll just crank this shit on my headphones.” I used to try to argue with people when they’d be disgusted upon hearing Zappa in a public setting – “No, no you’ve got it all wrong!” But something happened on a recent car ride this summer. When the pretentious, falsely declaring liberal female in the back seat became disgusted, rather than argue I just let a big smirk come across my face. To be offended by a 35 year-old piece of art is just as ridiculous as Ashcroft being offended by the exposed titties on the Spirit of Justice. Honestly, what level of temporal distance is required before you stop taking personal offense with something? It’s like calling up a radio station to complain about the Mongols raping women. It happened. It’s there. It exists. There was no level of disrespect being hurled towards you. In other words – lighten the fuck up. Either go start up the next Bikini Kill and do something, or just shut up. Bitching never got anybody anywhere. So kudos to Frank for still impacting not only music but also ridiculous social qualms. We miss you, and we really could have used you in this ridiculous new millennium. Here’s a couple of my faves:
I posted this when it first appeared, but you gotta love watching Dweezil trying to hold back the tears after finally busting out “Watermelon in Easter Hay” a few weeks back.
Photo courtesy of Jean-Luc Ourlin