In the case of A. West, he showed me a portfolio, and I hired him to do the Broadway The Hard Way cover, and then to do the illustrations of the book.
DS: I have a tape [audio] copy of that too. I'll go back and listen to that, think of what that is. Let's talk about A. West. He was pretty cool doin' his preacher thing. How did your involvement with him come about? Did you meet him as somebody who was gonna illustrate for your book, or meet him and find out that he was an illustrator, also? How did that come about?
FZ: Well, first I was doing business with a printing company that showed me these things (FZ hands Den a book of "Rev. A. West World Salvation stamps") 'cause they had done some work for A. West.
DS: Reverend A. West World Salvation stamps. . .these are great! (laughs)
FZ: Take 'em!... Uh, then I was introduced to him by Jeff Stein, who worked on Dweezil's "My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama" video. And then I saw some of his work. He did some logos for me and some other illustrations. He did the album cover for Broadway The Hard Way, and then he did illustrations for the book.
DS: The work he did on your book was really fantastic.
FZ: That took a long time.
DS: Yeah, and there was a unity of all of those things. It was...
FZ: Well, the way that was done was he'd come over here and we'd go chapter by chapter through the book, and I'd tell him my ideas for what oughta be, y'know, how to illustrate what I was talking about. Then he would do sketches, and some of 'em were not approved by the publisher. They wouldn't let him put some of the things in there.
DS: So there was some things that you guys wanted to have in there that didn't make it?
FZ: Yeah. One of the problems was the publisher was very adamant about the size of the book. It only had to be a certain number of pages. Some of the other decisions as to what to leave out were based on, they felt the illustrations were in bad taste, or something like that. And there's nothin' that I could do about it because it's not my publishing company.
DS: I noticed that there certainly was continuity among all those...
FZ: The Nu-Perfect America Company...
DS: Yeah. There was that and the Frank Zappa with the clothing from the back cover photo, and all that...
DS: But just in the way that the style that he drew those illustrations, and such. There was an element of continuity throughout that I found really pleasing. I just thought he did a really outstanding job.
FZ: Well, so you'll understand, it's another one of those things like "Mississippi Mud" that you don't know about. The whole illustrational style in there is derived from a type of cartoon approach that was in American popular literature in the early part of the century. It's got that, the whole old-fashioned type of illustration to it. So it's a parody of that kind of Americana that he's doing.
Q: There is a tremendous amount of apparently impromptu sample triggering on TBBYNHIYL, MAJNH, and BTHW. Did everyone in the band have the ability to trigger samples (like "The Sam Kinison Scream" or "It's Hot" or "Fire And Chains") whenever they felt the urge, or was just one person doing all that?
A: Frank had a switching system whereby he could allow one of three different guys to trigger Synclavier samples, either Ed, Chad or Bobby. Plus of course Frank himself had access to the keyboard at any time. Also Ed had a huge library of samples he'd compiled himself. I'd say Ed was responsible for about 65% of the injections, with Frank handling about 30%, Chad occasionally receving something and Bobby rarely.
|Stuttgart, Germany, May 27, 1988 (audience tape)||Genoa, Italy, June 9, 1988 (audience tape)||Broadway The Hard Way (1988)|
|23. Elvis Has Just Left The Building||6. Elvis Has Just Left The Building||1. Elvis Has Just Left The Building|
There's one [request] from a young filmmaker in upstate New York who wants to use "Elvis Has Just Left the Building" from the Broadway the Hard Way album to conclude a mock documentary he's making of current Elvis sightings.
He gave away Cadillacs once in a while
Elvis's generosity, especially in giving gifts of automobiles to friends, family, associates and complete strangers was legendary, as was his preference for Cadillac cars. Sometimes he would test drive them himself for a few days before giving them away.
Probably one of the earliest occasions Elvis gave a Cadillac away was when he gave a 1954 convertible to Sam Phillips of Sun Records in late 1955.
When she's in a bold mood,
"Confinement Loaf" sounds good—
When she's in a bold mood,
NUKE-YA-LER sounds good
CNN ran a story last week about this new product that has been developed for our prison system. It is called "Confinement Loaf." Now what it is it's, uh, bean by-products compressed into a loaf, which is administered to problem prisoners. Their diet will be a slice of "Confinement Loaf" and a cup of water, and it seems to mellow them out right away. So my question is: How long before "Confinement Loaf" appears in United States High Schools?
[Confinement Loaf] was a unifying thread between the three Washington shows, as well as tonight's first show in Pittsburgh—not Pittsburgh, where am I? Philadelphia. I'm in Philadelphia right now. It's true, it's true, what they say about being on the road, you forget where you are. Um, confinement loaf is something that Ike had seen a report about on CNN, which is some kind of bean by-product mixed with water, and formed into a loaf shape as if to resemble meat loaf. And this is served to problem inmates in prisons, people with behavioral maladjustments, and this stuff, whatever it is, bean curd, is supposed to calm them down. The bad attitude people get taken care of right away. And the name of this stuff is confinement loaf, although I think that might have been just the name which Ike invented to describe it, I'm not totally straight on that. Ike told Frank about it and this was naturally right up Frank's alley, so many lyrics were suitably altered.
RAIFORD, Fla.—Florida prison officials have a new weapon against unruly inmates, and they're hoping prisoners don't have the stomach for it. Beginning Feb. 15, problem inmates at two prisons will find their diet limited to the confinement loaf, a bland mixture of beans and other ingredients that might form a normal meal. The loaf resembles meat loaf or banana bread, but only in appearance. No spices are added to the mixture, which is blended with water, then formed into a loaf and baked.
I recall only one horn part coming fully-formed out of an evening of Frank messing around in his Synclavier submenus to generate the ugly chart that turned into When The Lie's So Big. Once in the past I remember mentioning that the only 'part' I ever received in rehearsals for 88 was for this song.
(Pinch it good!
You know, that confinement loaf is real good stuff
Hey, you oughta try some!)
An article raised some questions about whether or not Martin Luther King actually died in Jesse's arms. There were reports that Jackson dipped his hands into King's blood or even used chicken blood and rubbed it on his shirt, which he wore for a few days afterward as he met the media. So I did this song about the idea of communicating through nursery rhymes, as Jackson is prone to do. It rubs me the wrong way. I'm not saying that all of Jesse's ideas are bad; I agree with some of them. But I'm not confident that Jesse Jackson would be the person I would look to to implement any of them. I don't want to see any religious people in public office because they're working for another boss.
FZ, interviewed by Ken Dryden, WUTC Chattanooga, June 19, 1989 (transcription by Charles Ulrich)
Ken Dryden: There are so many quotes that you throw in, and I think even long-time Zappa fans can't catch up with all of them. But was the quote of Hallelujah I'm A Bum very deliberate at the end of Rhymin' Man?
FZ: Absolutely. In fact, you're the only person that knows that song.
KD: I have a Fats Waller recording of it from the late 'thirties.
FZ: None of the guys in the band had ever heard of the song. I even had to sing 'em some of the lyrics, just to get 'em into it.
KD: I actually heard the hymn that that's a parody of after I heard that song. I nearly doubled over in a church when I actually heard the hymn.
FZ: What's the name of the hymn?
KD: It's, I believe, called Rise Above. But it goes something like "Hallelujah, rise above. Hallelujah, amen." [FZ laughs.] Maybe I'll have to send you a xerox of the music when I find it.
HBO ran something like "Dr. Koop Answers Your Questions About AIDS." On it, I saw him explain how AIDS got from the green monkey to the human population. He speculated about a native who wanted to eat a green monkey, who skinned it, cut his finger and some of the green monkey's blood got into his blood. The next thing you know, you have this blood-to-blood transmission of the disease. I mean, this is awful fucking thin. It's right up there with Grimm's Fairy Tales. And Koop was such a cartoon character with that uniform and everything. Before Ronald Reagan, when did you ever see a surgeon general dressed up like the guy in the Katzenjammer Kids?
If it wasn't for rap there would be no poetry in America. I think we went directly from Walt Whitman to Ice-T.
Is Doctor Koop a man to trust?
It seems at least that Reagan must
(And Ron's a trusting sort of guy—
He trusts Ed Meese
I wonder why?)
We know who talks to us on television once in a while, but we don't know who the president is, and that's the real problem! Because it used to be Bill Casey, but he's dead, and then it was kind of Oliver North, but now he's unemployed, so who the f**k is doin' it? We know that the guy we see on TV is doin' nothing except taking a nap in the middle of the afternoon. Maybe it's Ed Meese. That would explain some of the ignorant policy decisions that are comin' out of there. That's right there in line with his average of brilliant decisions. In the news, when they were talking about Ronald Reagan and Ed Meese, the line was "almost brothers." Remember that one?
DS: What led up to you playing the Untouchables Theme? How did that come about?
FZ: I think that's a great piece of music. That's a genius TV theme, and I've always liked it. One day, we were in Chicago at a sound check, and I said, "We should play The Untouchables". But nobody could remember exactly how it went. So Laurel Fishman went to a television station, and got a cassette, this TV station was running The Untouchables there, and talked somebody at the station into making a little audio cassette of the theme. We brought it back to the sound check. We listened to the cassette through the speakers that played into the room. The horn players went over and stood next to the speakers and they listened . . . (to Eric) Were you there at that soundcheck?
EB: Yeah, I was there.
FZ: Alright! And they listened carefully and each guy picked out his own part out of this thing, and they sketched out their parts, and that's how we learned The Untouchables.
"Check out the politics
Practiced by this oaf
And if they ain't just right
Feed him Confinement Loaf."
[On February 10, Washington, DC,] from ["Sinister Footwear"] it went into "Bacon Fat" which we haven't played so far on the tour, but it wasn't "Bacon Fat", it's been changed to "Confinement Loaf". [...] So for "Bacon Fat" Frank completely rewrote the lyrics, and it also contained references to "CBS News Nightwatch"—I'm trying to remember how the second verse went: "Then I went and did some network T.V./His name was Charlie and he listened to me/He said "What about this song about Pat?"/I said "He's lame, can we agree upon that?"/"If that is so, then who should we back?"/I said "Let's get Mario and watch those Nazis react". 'Cause Frank likes Mario Cuomo. I'm trying to remember how the first verse went, it had something to do with some people not wanting Frank to play in their town because he is an "oaf", they don't like the political views of this "oaf", we should get him a corner and give him "loaf" or something like that.
(1998 comment: the version of "Confinement Loaf" which was released under the name "Bacon Fat" on the "Broadway The Hard Way" CD contains only the first verse which I was just trying to remember, omitting the entire second verse quoted above, as well as virtually all (except for the final bar) of a new second chorus which was added later in the tour: "We oughta be draftin' him, draftin' him, draftin' him, draftin' him, draftin' him, draftin' him, draftin' him, draftin' him, NOW." This is the source of the single word "NOW" which closes the released version of the song. The "Charlie" in the omitted second verse is Charlie Rose, who was then the anchor of "CBS News Nightwatch".)
Den Simms: Particularly in "Confinement Loaf" that second verse had some references to Charlie Rose and the Nightwatch interview, I wondered if that had anything to do with anything.
Den Simms: Just an artistic choice on your part?
FZ: Artistic choice. I don't have anything against Charlie Rose.
[Philadelphia, February 13, 1988] Following ["Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue"], "Jezebel Boy"—another tour premiere, as I recall... (1998 comment: It was in fact the only time we ever played "Jezebel Boy", and although it was loaded with mistakes, it's this version which by default ended up on "Broadway The Hard Way". Why we didn't play more versions for Frank to choose from [we rehearsed it at least 100 times in Los Angeles] I do not understand.)
I get off being spoo-ed upon [...]
This unfortunate little vixen wouldn't let just ANYBODY
Spoo all over her lap—
While you all smell the glove
Henry Cisneros, ladies and gentlemen!
Council members voted Thursday night to approve an ordinance, backed by Mayor Henry G. Cisneros, to ban children age 13 and under from rock concerts at city-owned facilities.
"This is not a violation of the First Amendment, and I think the courts will prove that out," Cisneros said. "This is saying that, in San Antonio, we are prepared to try to take a reasonable legal position that young children need not be exposed to whatever (philosophies) some rock groups . . . happen to have."
DS: What happened with Henry Cisneros (mayor of San Antonio Texas), and all that?
FZ: Henry Cisneros had a little embarrassing situation to his political career down there. Didn't he wind up having a girlfriend, or something, and have some political problems about a year ago? Yeah, I don't know what happened to his career.
DS: But the health ordinance that he was . . .
FZ: That's on the books, as far as I can tell.
DS: So, I mean, down there, they can tell you that . . .
FZ: It's unhealthful to go to rock [concerts].
And all their parents carry guns,
And hold them cards in the N.R.A.
(With their fingers on the trigger
When they kneel and pray)
The right to bear arms is the nail in America's coffin. In the States each year 30,000 people are killed by other civilians with bullets. In England, which doesn't support the right to bear arms, it's a mere 20. But if you suggest that there might be a connection between 30,000 dead and the right to bear arms on the one hand, and 20 dead and NO right to bear arms on the other hand, then, according to some, you're a filthy communist crackpot (laughs). It's absurd.
(Hey, look! Godzilla!)
I've been studying monster movies for a long time. I'm very interested in Japanese special effect techniques. And fireworks and explosives are interesting, too. On the contrary, American monster movies are not interesting, as they don't have a human touch. It's only Japanese people who invented a monster that shoots out a ring of smoke when he is stomped on his tail. Mother Godzilla steps on Baby Godzilla's tail, and then, a ring of smoke is coming out from Baby's mouth [Son Of Godzilla (1967)]. It's definitely an excellent art.
Additional informant: Charles UlrichResearch, compilation and maintenance by Román García Albertos