Frank Zappa And Sex

Paul Carr, who wrote earlier about the ZFT’s agressive copyright policies, has published another paper. This time, the subject is Zappa’s attitude toward sex. The essay closes with a quote from Herbert Marcuse which pretty much hits the nail on the head:

Obscenity is a moral concept in the verbal arsenal of the Establishment, which abuses the term by applying it, not to expressions of its own morality but to those of another. Obscene is not the picture of a naked woman who exposes her pubic hair but that of a fully clad general who exposes his medals rewarded in a war of aggression; obscene is not the ritual of the Hippies but the declaration of a high dignitary of the Church that war is necessary for peace.


4 thoughts on “Frank Zappa And Sex”

  1. Frank Zappa and political violence with weapons

    While reading Paul Carr´s point of view, a strange thought crossed my mind. FZ produced Grand Funk Railroad in 1976 and they recorded a song called “Don’t Let ‘Em Take Your Gun”.

    Here are the lyrics:

    Ohhh, people why don’t you come in here and let me talk to you a while.
    That’s right, step right up and listen to a concerned citizen speak his piece.

    I’ll tell you a little something that my daddy told to me.
    My basic fundamentals if you want to be free.
    ‘Cause son, there’s somthing wrong internally.
    So, if you want your freedom son.
    Don’t want your country to be overrun.
    You got to keep America number one.

    My daddy told me “Son, don’t let ’em take your gun.
    That’s what they tryin’ to do.
    Son, don’t let ’em take your gun.
    They’re takin’ your Bill of Rights away from you.”
    My daddy said “Son, don’t let ’em take your gun.
    That’s what they tryin’ to do.
    Son, don’t let ’em take your gun.
    Don’t let ’em take your gun away from you.”

    Ohhh, this year is our anniversary.
    Two hundred years, people we’ve been free.
    Won’t be nobody takin’ over our land.
    If everybody’s brother’s got a gun in his hand.
    I’m tellin’ you we learned to fight for justice.
    We’re willing to die for freedom.
    Hand in hand.
    You got to understand.
    We are American men.

    Said they want your gun.
    Said they want your gun.
    Send ’em on the run.
    Send ’em on the run.
    Hip-hurray for fun.
    Hip-hurray for fun.
    If they do we’re done.
    If they do we’re done.


    Now what is this? FZ´s secret blimpish way of spreading his real opinion through other people´s songs. Or is this satire?

    His opinion on sex probably just a hoax?

    In a television interview FZ once gave, he even mentioned that he likes “Dirty Harry” movies.

    Now Frank, who´s turning again?

  2. [quote comment=”8006″]
    Now what is this? FZ´s secret blimpish way of spreading his real opinion through other people´s songs. Or is this satire?

    I don’t think you can accuse FZ of being a card carrying member of the NRA because he happens to produce a record for a band that contains a song promoting the American right to own and bear arms, or happens to enjoy “Dirty Harry” movies. That’s the same kind of flawed logic that lead the PMRC to demand labeling of albums in the 80s to protect the minds of children, and brought about litigation against bands like Judus Priest when some distraught parents accused their lyrics of causing their teenage children’s suicides. It’s the same sort of flawed logic that accuses the defense attorney of supporting whatever crimes their client is accused (not that I’m accusing you of this in any way, Roland, though I have witnessed it, particularly with Zappa – remember the Jewish Princess controversy? And all the hubbub with the Jewish Defense League?). It’s dangerous to make quick assumptions at any time, yet with Zappa, I’ve seen it occur time and time again by some who wouldn’t first take the time to hear his music before drawing their conclusions. Their loss. If someone wants trite, easy accessible, nary offensive audio entertainment, I’m sure there are lots of other artists for them to listen to and enjoy: Abba, John Denver, Kenny G. If anything, the first main ingredient of all Zappa fans I have discovered is a generous supply of musical adventurousness (given where FZ leads the listener, an open mind is just as necessary as open ears). I may not always agree with what FZ has said, but I am careful never to conclude that I somehow have insight into his psyche or somehow understand the man in any fundamental way.

    That said, I am reminded of a line from Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself” from his book, ‘Leaves of Grass’:

    “Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself; (I am large, I contain multitudes.)”

    Zappa certainly contained multitudes.

  3. The song sounds too over the top to be real, it was probably satire.

    And if it was sincere and Frank produced it, he did so because he wasnt some self-righteous jerk who would tell the band he was producing what they could or couldnt record or say.

  4. Roland is off base here. Frank produced the Grand Funk album for money, something he didn’t do very often. (Compare Frank’s attitude in this respect (or most other 60s-70s icons) with artists today who would do pretty much anything for the opportunity to ‘sell out’.)

    I have never seen the quote about Zappa enjoying the ‘Dirty Harry’ movies. I’d like to see a cite on that. It really doesn’t prove anything if it’s true, but I have my doubts anyway.

    This is guilt by association. Did Frank endorse stabbing one’s mother because he produced Wild Man Fischer? Did he approve of killing one’s mother because he worked with Jim Gordon? Did he believe in dismembering one’s woman because he wrote ‘Bamboozled By Love’?

    I’m afraid Mr Carr’s essays are object lessons about why Frank was skeptical of academia, and Roland’s comment is of a piece with that: they don’t actually illuminate or prove anything, and exist only for the aggrandizement of the writer.

    BTW, I disagree with Frank on quite a few things myself, socio-politically, but that doesn’t affect my appreciation of his work one bit.

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