Random Musical Musings

Two quick, unrelated things having to do with music:

One.

On public transit in Minneapolis. Two college students are talking in front of me.

“So Kev tells me you’re a drummer,” says one.

“Yeah, a bit,” says the other. “Why?”

“I’m in a band and our drummer quit ’cause he got a girlfriend.”

“Oh, bummer. What’s it called?”

The Flaming Placentas of Unstoppable Misery.” (I actually forget the real name he said, but it was something along those lines.)

“Right on, cool name. What kind of music do you play?”

“A cross between (a band I’d never heard of) and (a band I’d never heard of), with a little early (band I’d never heard of).”

“Cool, cool. So what kind of drummer are you looking for?”

“Well, uh, how would you describe yourself, musically?”

“I dunno. Early Keith Moon, I guess.”

“Oh.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, we’re more looking for someone who is, like, a rhythmically-challenged epileptic who’s been awake for a week straight on a diet of nothing but Red Bull and crystal meth.”

Don’t try and picture that, okay? Just… don’t.

Two.

On a bus in one of the suburbs. Listening to an MP3 player.

Today, if you heard for the first time a song whose lyrics included things like:

They don’t do no good
They never be workin’
When they oughta should
They waste your time
They’re wastin’ mine
California’s got the most of them
Boy they got a host of them
Swear to God they got the most
at every business on the coast

and

They are lying and lazy
they be driving you crazy

and

I asked as nice as I could
if my job could comehow be finished by Friday
Well the whole damned weekend came and went, Frankie
And they didn’t do nothing!
But they charged me double for Sunday…

You could easily be forgiven for thinking it was some sort of mildly vitriolic anti-immigrant Tea Party anthem, couldn’t you?

Those are – if you didn’t already know – some of the lyrics to the late Frank Zappa’s song Flakes, which was released in 1979 on the album Sheik Yerbouti. What’s it actually about? Um, “Flakes”. I don’t really know. I always assumed it referred to, you know, WASPs… in California.

I guess context really is everything, isn’t it? And this is Zappa we’re talking about. (The same album includes a song called “Jones Crusher”. Shortly after it was released, a Scandinavian media personality famously asked Zappa whether the song referred to Jim Jones, whose followers had committed suicide en masse five months before the album was released. The reporter was evidently a bit mortified when Zappa explained that the song was, in fact, about intercourse with a woman with an extremely tight yoo-hoo. People had been trying to read much deeper, allegorical meaning into the lyrics…)

Published in: General | on June 1st, 2010| Comments Off on Random Musical Musings

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