Frank, Gail & Ravel’s Gardener, Sitting In A Tree

At’s forums, Wiki Jawaka contributor Maroual asked a question with regard to the omission of Ravel’s Bolero on TBBYNHIYL, and got an answer — from Gail, no less.


I don’t actually know from an official source why the Bolero had to be removed from TBBYNIYL, do you ? Maybe the ZFT did not want to pay royalties and prefered to remove the track.


Interestingly you have used Ravel as an example. Ravel’s Bolero was removed from FZ’s Master in the countries where it was not public domain. We (yeah, I know you trustbusters hate this when I mean me and FRANK) had to ‘post’ a public apology in the newspaper for “perverting” the intent of the composer by FZ’s arrangement and make sure that that the number of copies sold over the course of the following 2 years was limited – when it then went into public domain in the rest of the world. Since Ravel had no progeny his heirs as I recall were related to his gardener and or housekeeper. You live and you learn. — gz

For those who hadn’t heard it yet, here’s FZ’s magnificent version of Ravel’s Bolero. If memory serves, this bit is taken from the Barcelona ’88 gig, as broadcast on Spanish TV.

13 thoughts on “Frank, Gail & Ravel’s Gardener, Sitting In A Tree”

  1. I don’t know why he did this.

    – Possibly just for fun. You have a big band, this enables you to perform … this? Strictly commercial: be sure people will listen as they know the tune. It’s available in all record stores.
    – Education? An attempt to learn audiences about one of the ( minor) tunes of 20th century classical music? No. FZ didn’t feel like having a mission to educate.

    Just fun. He did not even decompose / deconstruct it.

    Thus: pleasing audiences. The wrong way to show that you’re a great composer. Against the back drop of ” serious ” people not taking you seriously.

  2. I’ve been to Stuttgart 88 and i never will understand why Frank
    has wasted his time playing this bolero. As a composer there was
    nothing to do – even playing a composition note for note from another person. Was it a sign that he can play everything and we will eat it?
    (sorry for my worst english)

  3. Let’s not forget the other version he did – “The Sealed Tuna Bolero” from 200 Motels…

    Actually, I quite like the ’88 version of Ravels “Bolero” – they did a great job.

    Now, who remembers the piece when it was used in the film “10” starring Dudley Moore & Bo Derek?!!!!!!!

  4. There’s a nice irony about Gail and FZ being on the receiving end of the copyright owner vigourously defending their rights!

    AS for why FZ played the tune in the first place, I suspect it was mainly because he could play anything with the 1988 band. And there’s nothing unusual about playing cover versions. Even the Beatles, Stones, Miles Davis and Dylan have done it.

  5. I downloaded a Zappa interview from 1989 which was on BBC Radio 1. Zappa was interviewed by Nicky Clarke, he discusses Bolero during the interview. From memory he said the same as Gail. Nicky Clarke also asks some questions about the constitution and comes over as the sensationalist tabloid journalist he is. I’ll see if I’ve still got the interview lurking on my harddrive.

  6. Found it! Infact the interview starts with Bolero.

    NC: “[Bolero’s] a bit tuneful for you that, isn’t it?”
    FZ: “I think that Ravel’s Bolero is one of the greatest pieces of music ever written.”

    It’s 45min long and 32MB big, where should I post it?

  7. Hey! Thanks a lot for this informations!!! I didn’t expected it,
    Thank’s to all!!! Best Regards Frank B.

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