Kinda Young, Kinda Dead…

In doing my thesis research (which will include a chapter on You Are What You Is), I stumbled across the discussion of “Charlie’s Enormous Mouth” over at the ARF.ru website, which had this comment:

Fuck ME. I remember the Charlie fragrance commercials, but I don’t remember kinda young kinda wow. I was real young so I dont doubt it.
I always suspected that Charlie’s Enormous Mouth was a riff on the “Charlie” fragrance because “Charlie” referred to a woman name in both cases. (For the non-English speaking, Charlie is usually a nickname for Charles, a mans name, and rarely used for Charlene or any other female variant).

In this day and age of vintage commercials being posted on YouTube for nostalgic purposes, I was able to find a 1973 ad for the Charlie fragrance…

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why I find FZ’s work to be endlessly rewarding to the astute listener.

24 Responses to “Kinda Young, Kinda Dead…”

  1. Devoid says:

    Amazing! (one wonder what else lurks in the servers?)

  2. Dark Clothes says:

    Wonderful – the Seventies distilled to 31 seconds! (With CC clues!)

  3. slime.o says:

    nuthin but the best for my dog …

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJnehMOHIl0#t=86s

  4. Dark Clothes says:

    If you wonder why the Eighties was a fucked-up decade compared to the Seventies, take a look at his ugly little sucker:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUR9HGpdwzU&feature=related

  5. Tjodolf says:

    She did have a large mouth with very white teeth she must have been brushing quite a lot. So that’s her, then. I don’t know if she used cocaine and had a dead brain, but that goes with the lifestyle celebrated in this commercial. A conceptual continuity find, and it didn’t even take forty years.

  6. jonnybutter2 says:

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    nuthin but the best for my dog …

    Here BUNBURRY!

  7. revolution says:

    I think we could probably do a ‘group read’ of every single Zappa song ever written, teasing out every last little off-the-cuff reference & pop symbol in the entire damn discography (we could even do it without falling into Watson-speak!)

    The man really was a maximalist; and a more clever lyricist than people realize.

  8. Alex says:

    This could be your wife…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxcQRFBkeRw

  9. Alex says:

    A quote from Dark Clothes:

    If you wonder why the Eighties was a fucked-up decade compared to the Seventies, take a look at his ugly little sucker:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUR9HGpdwzU&feature=related

    Yikes…sounds like Missing Persons.

  10. Theydon Bois says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyLiBJcv7c4&feature=related

    Surely “Doesn’t have that stale aftertaste” must be from an advert? Anyone?

  11. Dark Clothes says:

    Shelley Hack had a part in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall and went on to become one of Charlie’s Angels, but got sacked after one season because the audience diminished. She sure seems like a woman with more intelligence and integrity than Zappa’s character in Charlie’s Enormous Mouth, but it’s true that he probably used her looks as an inspiration for the song, in addition to the (now) obvious references to the Charlie commercials.

  12. urbangraffito says:

    Like anyone of my generation who lived through the 1980s, they can attest to the hyperreality of that decade: illusion had become supreme. Musically speaking, though, only Zappa was still decoding this “hyperreality” as he did in the 60s and 70s – to an extent that was nearly literary in it’s intellegence. Then again, both Zappa and his hardcore audience were pretty darn intelligent.

  13. Dark Clothes says:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    Like anyone of my generation who lived through the 1980s, they can attest to the hyperreality of that decade: illusion had become supreme. Musically speaking, though, only Zappa was still decoding this “hyperreality” as he did in the 60s and 70s – to an extent that was nearly literary in it’s intellegence. Then again, both Zappa and his hardcore audience were pretty darn intelligent.

    Good analysis of the Eighties, UG, but I have to disagree that Zappa was the only one who interpreted “the hyperreality of the decade” musically (as you say). If you recall, there was a distinct pastel/monochrome dichotomy in those days. And in the wake of punk, there was a whole school of bands and artists who tried to come to terms with the hyperreality of the time in different ways. If we look at one random year at the beginning of the decade, 1981, we know that Zappa released three albums – Tinseltown Rebellion, SUAPYG and You Are What You Is. I’ll leave the first out of the discussion here. TTR deserves a whole discussion on its own, because its sort of debatable, while SUAPYG is undeniably the Rosetta Stone of Zappa’s guitar work, but less relevant as an example of Zappa’s social decoding (unless you want to go into a very ambitious and wide interpretation). That leaves us with You Are What You Is, which is a good example of what you’re hinting at, and in many ways a brilliant record. You can easily draw a line from, say, We’re Only In It For The Money in the Sixties to the social satire of YAWYI. There is one difference though. In 1967, Money was undoubtedly one of the most radical artistic and critical statements of its time. By 1981, Zappa was closer to the mainstream musically, and although his satire was still biting, there were many bands and artists who confronted the issues of that time in a much harsher and (arguably) radical ways. I can mention albums like For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder by The Pop Group, Red Mecca by Cabaret Voltaire, Deceit by This Heat and Christ -The Album by Crass as much more radical and unsettling statements from the same era than You Are What You Is. Those albums, and many others throughout the decade, parallelled and often surpassed Zappa’s decoding of the times as radical critiques. And bands like This Heat and Camberwell Now could even vie with Zappa as pure musical stements. I certainly don’t dismiss Zappa’s work from that period, but will alway consider the stuff he did with the original Mothers of Invention as even more groundbreaking. Because at that time they were clearly the vanguard, and in some respects that was less obvious with Zappa in the Eighties.

  14. urbangraffito says:

    While I do not disagree with you, Dark Clothes, to any great degree – Zappa wasn’t the only artist decoding the hyperreality of the 80s – I do believe he had a biting sardonic satire that was uniquely his own, and which was more of an influence than I think you give him full credit for. I mean, do not mistake the harsher and more radical punk ethos for an actual decoding of the times: that is no doubt why the punk ethos has become merely a fashion statement while Zappa’s subversiveness stands the test of time (both musically and lyrically). I do find it interesting that you choose You Are What You Is as Zappa’s sole representation of his 80s output in comparison. I would certainly add Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch with songs such as “No, Not Now”, “I Come From Nowhere”, and “Drowning Witch” as examples of Zappa’s caustic decoding of America in the 80s. Then there’s Thing-Fish in it’s entirety: anyone who experienced those dark days of the early 1980s when sex became something you could actually die from recalls they were very scary and heady days, indeed, and Zappa’s satirical take on the epidemic was not only subversively hilarious, but captured the rampant confusion and fear of the times as well.

  15. Dark Clothes says:

    I agree that Thing-Fish is as harsh as anything by Zappa or anyone else, but check out something like Deceit by This Heat, and you will find a record from 1981 which is more accomplished than the standard punk fare and at the same time more directly political and positively unsettling than Zappa’s statements of the same era. My point is that Zappa didn’t change as much as the historical context. I suggest that Deceit in 1981 was as radical to society as We’re Only In It For The Money in 1967, while You Are What You Is seemed relatively mellower, even though the internal relationship between the early MoI satires and the later albums is obvious to anyone with an interest in Zappa. It’s also worth noting that many radical artists in the Seventies and onwards were influenced by Zappa’s early work, while often dismissing the later efforts (which I do not).

  16. Dave says:

    Always great to see this. Is another mix coming its way?

  17. urbangraffito says:

    Thanks, DC, another album (Deceit by This Heat) to add to my list of must get albums. I’m not suggesting that these post punk band were any less caustic than Zappa, rather, that Zappa targeted his satire somewhat more specifically than even This Heat (and others I have heard) who seemed to aim more generally at society as a whole. Neither am I suggesting that you were in any way dismissing Zappa’s later efforts. No artist exists in a vacuum, even Zappa, and he was as much influenced by his times and other artists as they were by him.

  18. Dark Clothes says:

    Some eras are uglier than others, but there will always be sensible and intelligent people who respond to their environment. And Zappa sure was one of the more perceptive ones, even in the later period, when his view was from a more established position.

  19. punknaynowned says:

    here’s another for posterity with a different singer
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1WX9znN7CE&
    is that Mel Torme? Or just a look-alike and if that, it adds another dimension of hilarity.
    The shipboard setting her is also funny,,, LOVE BOAT was a big abc hit in ’79 wasn’t it, right before “Fantasy Island”, which takes us to another reference or three…

  20. jonnybutter2 says:

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    is that Mel Torme?

    Yes it is. Notice how good the intonation is? That’s Mel. Hope they paid him a lot for that.

  21. Dougal says:

    A quote from Dougal:

    I can mention albums like For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder by The Pop Group, Red Mecca by Cabaret Voltaire, Deceit by This Heat and Christ -The Album by Crass as much more radical and unsettling statements from the same era than You Are What You Is.

    I’d think Biafra’s lyrics were more in Zappa’s style (and I believe they were friends, too).

  22. Dougal says:

    A quote from Dougal:

    I think we could probably do a ‘group read’ of every single Zappa song ever written, teasing out every last little off-the-cuff reference & pop symbol in the entire damn discography (we could even do it without falling into Watson-speak!)

    You mean something like this, I presume:
    http://www.chrisrand.com/hmhb

  23. Dark Clothes says:

    A quote from Dougal:

    A quote from Dark Clothes:

    I can mention albums like For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder by The Pop Group, Red Mecca by Cabaret Voltaire, Deceit by This Heat and Christ -The Album by Crass as much more radical and unsettling statements from the same era than You Are What You Is.

    I’d think Biafra’s lyrics were more in Zappa’s style (and I believe they were friends, too).

    Well, they did campaign together against the Mothers of Prevention, and I do think Zappa found some common ground with punks like Jello there – but then he also found an ally in John Denver.

  24. Bálint says:

    A quote from revolution:

    I think we could probably do a ‘group read’ of every single Zappa song ever written, teasing out every last little off-the-cuff reference & pop symbol in the entire damn discography

    I think that’s what the alt.frankzappa usegroup did and that is what we can read at each song at Information Is Not Knowledge* as “Notes and comments”, like this.

    *BTW did anyone notice that the short form of that fine homepage is Information INK?… :-)

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