I, for one, do get a glint of what you must feel you're up against when reading this shared anecdote of yours.
I put this here so others who might not troll the zpz pages, can get a fix on that too. Thanx fer posting!!
5 September 2007
A funny thing happened on the way to soundcheck... AKA a lengthy blog.
At our recent show in San Diego I overheard a ridiculous conversation prior to sound-check by 2 local in house crew guys. I was outside my dressing room and could hear their on stage confabulation. I will refer to them as Dude 1 and 2 for ease of communication.
Dude 1 said to Dude 2, "Who's playing tonight"? "Frank Zappa's kid," replied Dude 2. "Who's that?" said Dude 1. "You never heard of Frank Zappa?" replied Dude 2. Dude 1, "No." Dude 2, "Dude, he's like the first guy to rap in the 70's." Dude 1, "That's cool". Dude 2, "His kid has a tribute band"... and scene.
I found this tête-à-tête to be equal parts humorous and disturbing. The humor is obvious but what disturbs me is perhaps less easily discernible. Frank was once asked, "How would you like to be remembered"? He said. "I wouldn't." I feel strongly that if people are to remember him that he at least be remembered for the things that genuinely defined him as a human being and as a composer/musician.
While it may be true that Frank has performed vocal monologues in several of his songs replete with particular idiosyncratic rhythmic scansion, I would unequivocally say that being "Like the first guy to rap in the 70's" is about the lamest and most inappropriate way to convey Frank's overall image to others and insults his real musical achievements.
There have been studies showing that an average person who enjoys music but knows very little about the technical side of it can determine the difference in the level of skill of a novice musician up to a competent musician. In other words on a scale of 1 to 10 they can hear a big difference between the caliber of a 1 and a 5. Past that, from 5 to 10, the subtleties, maturity and sophistication of a truly gifted musician are not easily recognized.
This is alarming information. From 5-10 everything seems to all sound "good" or of the same level of skill. That study has to account for the content of some of these endless lists of the top 100 greatest songs/albums of all time and the proliferation of mediocrity.
The aforementioned "Dudes" have obviously had very little exposure to Frank and his music. That's the biggest part of the problem right there. But what little they have had shows exactly how bad the lack of fundamental music appreciation and knowledge there is out there in the world today. Especially as it relates to Frank.
I guess I better get out my Krunk Goblet for my tribute and pull down my over-sized pants to expose the top of my underwear, hike up one pant leg to expose my calf and incessantly repeat the phrase, "Uh, Uh, Yeah, Dweezil in the house" over every part of every one of Frank's songs. People would really get it then. That would be "dope".
Or I could become a special amalgamation of disrespect and delusion. I could talk about imaginary reasons why I have been selected to keep the music alive while making sweeping changes to the all songs, omitting integral parts and replacing them with parts that I wrote myself while pretending to be Frank and having the gall to think I actually made some improvements to his music. Now that's a tribute! That would be "doper".
I felt compelled to share this with all of you because as I have mentioned before, I am touring Frank's music because it is a true labor of love for me. My goal is to expose it to more people and hopefully provide some educational elements through diversity in musical selection. This is not just so people can hear the music again or for the first time, but so they can hear what really makes Frank different from other composers/musicians/record producers. I think his accomplishments have been misunderstood or unrecognized due to lack of exposure for far too long. Onstage I let his music speak for itself.
I don't know about you but just hearing compositions like "G-Spot Tornado," "Dog/Meat" and "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" and realizing that at one point it was all just an idea in one man's mind before it was fully realized on a disc of some sort and unleashed on the world, is fascinating and inspiring.
After we played "Dog/Meat" on stage recently, someone yelled out, "Who writes like that?!?" He kept clapping and shaking his head. Clearly he was experiencing what I am talking about. The realization that this music is unique and very satisfying to all of your senses. Especially in a live situation. By the way, the answer to that guy's question for those of you keeping score at home, only one man - Frank Zappa.
Having said that, I also want you to know that I work very hard to present Frank's actual arrangements at all times. What that means is that we play only what Frank intended to be played. It's that simple. If it's on a live recording or a studio recording we learn the song as it exists on the record. If something other than that appears on stage it's utterly by accident during a live performance. There are moments where monologues may change to reflect things that are part of ZPZ's own folklore but this is in keeping with Frank's own live show architecture, so, therefore acceptable to me. We never change the notes! We have manuscripts in Frank's own handwriting to reference and access to master tapes. We forensically dissect things when necessary and make extremely accurate transcriptions if no manuscript can be found/exists. That's the process.
I have constructed a couple of Hybrid arrangements of a few songs for the tour. But they are comprised of elements that Frank arranged originally and are then composited into one performance. I certainly leave room for improvisation in the sections that are meant to be improvised but beyond that I intentionally do not change the arrangements or the music. There is no reason to do so.
I contend that Frank's music continuously evolved under his baton. Unfortunately he can no longer waive that baton. It is not my responsibility to change, add, or continuously reinterpret Frank's music in an attempt to make it evolve. And it most certainly is not anyone else's either. His music deserves to continue into the future as he created it. I am just trying to create an opportunity and an environment for discovery for all of Frank's existing fans as well as potential new ones. I want all of you to be able to hear his music, respectfully played and with his best intentions in mind.
I greatly appreciate all of your support in this endeavor. I will see you at the next show.
POSTED BY DWEEZIL ZAPPA AT 2007-09-05 10:33:16
" . . . On the outside now . . ."