MOBILE USERS: m.isthmus.com
Connect with Isthmus on Twitter · Facebook · Flickr · Newsletters 
Friday, April 18, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 53.0° F  A Few Clouds
Collapse Photo Bar

Musicians who flummox

Music news, rumors, what you're listening to, how you're listening to it and whether it's all on the up-and-up.

Re: Musicians who flummox

Postby ilikebeans » Thu Oct 25, 2012 1:31 pm

Stebben84 wrote:I do know a number of people who absolutely hate Zappa and I've never understood why.

I'm lukewarm on his stuff overall (some love, some hate, as others have expressed), but I can understand why some hate his music (as opposed to the personality, which I guess some also hate).

My big beef with him is that, by and large, his music is so dense that it sounds like he took every single idea he had at the time and threw it into each composition (with lots of exceptions). Much of it sounds complicated for complication's sake.

I saw Zappa Plays Zappa a year or so ago in Milwaukee (coming this year to the Barrymore on Dec. 8th). While I have the utmost respect for those musicians that, not only are able to perform the music but also memorize it all, the evening left me completely mentally exhausted. I was run over by a flood of notes all night that became meaningless after the first 45 minutes or so.

Maybe I just haven't gotten his underlying genius to a lot of the long and complicated material.
ilikebeans
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 2753
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2007 2:23 am

Re: Musicians who flummox

Postby dave esmond » Thu Oct 25, 2012 1:43 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:So if you're thinking of something in particular, do definitely tell me and I will check it out.


It's been a while since I sold that one. But I recall a couple of Vai parts I'd play more then the rest of the album.

Obviously not enough to remember exactly what or keep it.

But, as I recall at least worth a slight justify.
dave esmond
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 2565
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2001 4:15 pm

Re: Musicians who flummox

Postby Kenneth Burns » Thu Oct 25, 2012 2:19 pm

I was a Zappa fan in early adolescence, mainly on the strength of "Valley Girl," which was a hit when I was about 12. I thought it was hilarious and wanted to know more. So I bought what was available at the mall record store, mainly releases from around that time: "Ship Arriving Too Late," "Joe's Garage," "The Man From Utopia" and, a little later, "Them or Us." I thought this stuff was great. Then again, I was 12.

As I got older, I delved into the rest of the catalog and appreciated the musicianship more. I appreciated the puerile jokes less and was repulsed by the hateful ones. But hey, "Valley Girl" is unsubtly homophobic, so I can't say I wasn't warned.
Kenneth Burns
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 2972
Joined: Fri May 24, 2002 3:14 pm

Re: Musicians who flummox

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Thu Oct 25, 2012 3:58 pm

Kenneth Burns wrote:As I got older, I delved into the rest of the catalog and appreciated the musicianship more. I appreciated the puerile jokes less and was repulsed by the hateful ones. But hey, "Valley Girl" is unsubtly homophobic, so I can't say I wasn't warned.
I still gleefully love a lot of the puerile jokes -- like Marvell, I'm also a big fan of the Flo and Eddie era stuff, and that shit's dripping with puerility. And while I agree with most complaints about Zappa's misogyny, it is worth noting that he was almost as likely to be skewering men with his lyrics. (This doesn't excuse him, of course, it just makes him more of an equal opportunity offender than he sometimes gets credit for.) I think one of the reasons he often went so far was that he truly resented having to write lyrics at all. That said, I'm pretty sure all the Valspeak in "Valley Girl" was just stuff Moon Unit had heard real Valley Girls saying, not lyrics penned by Frank, and the intent of her parts is obviously* intended to mock such people and their attitudes.

*Well... it should have been obvious. But of course, the song's short-lived ubiquity just ended up making Valspeak more popular than ever, much to Zappa's chagrin.
Prof. Wagstaff
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 8617
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2002 6:35 pm

Re: Musicians who flummox

Postby Kenneth Burns » Thu Oct 25, 2012 4:22 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:That said, I'm pretty sure all the Valspeak in "Valley Girl" was just stuff Moon Unit had heard real Valley Girls saying, not lyrics penned by Frank, and the intent of her parts is obviously* intended to mock such people and their attitudes.

I believe you're right. I think she even fabricated valley slang that then was embraced unironically by the faddists.

No, it's not completely over the top, the "Valley Girl" verse about the valley girl's teacher, who is gay or effeminate. But it's ugly, and when I hear it, I think of a teacher who taught at my school around that time. He was gay and effeminate, and the kids were awful about it. That wasn't right. He died of AIDS.

Even if Moon was just joking around, it's too bad Frank the parent didn't identify the teachable moment. Hey Moon, let's not mock gays. On the other hand, the theme shows up elsewhere in the Zappa oeuvre, like in "Catholic Girls" ("Father Riley's a fairy, but that don't bother Mary"). So maybe he didn't care.
Kenneth Burns
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 2972
Joined: Fri May 24, 2002 3:14 pm

Re: Musicians who flummox

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Thu Oct 25, 2012 4:46 pm

My point was that Moon isn't mocking a gay teacher, she's mocking the stupid Valley girls she had heard mocking a gay teacher.
Prof. Wagstaff
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 8617
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2002 6:35 pm

Re: Musicians who flummox

Postby Kenneth Burns » Thu Oct 25, 2012 5:43 pm

You're probably right. When I was a 12-year-old listening to the song on the radio, that nuance was lost on me, not least because this kind of plainspoken homophobia was much more common then. I enjoyed the tune partly because it was performed by a kid like me. It was like watching "The Bloodhound Gang." With homophobia.
Kenneth Burns
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 2972
Joined: Fri May 24, 2002 3:14 pm

Re: Musicians who flummox

Postby christopher_robin » Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:33 pm

Next up: Neil Diamond.

This is a guy who wrote more than one song nearly everyone knows. Right there, that's pretty good.

But is he a serious songwriter, or kind of a hack? Do we like Neil ironically, or honestly? Does anyone here actually own any Diamond albums? If so, are they any good?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3S7mlRYL-8
christopher_robin
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 2888
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2004 10:46 am

Re: Musicians who flummox

Postby Kenneth Burns » Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:41 pm

Your post inspired me to put on my Bang compilation "Do It!," which is so good.
Kenneth Burns
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 2972
Joined: Fri May 24, 2002 3:14 pm

Re: Musicians who flummox

Postby brentron909 » Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:58 pm

christopher_robin wrote: Does anyone here actually own any Diamond albums? If so, are they any good?


Hot August Night is certifiably awesome. In a not-at-all-ironic way.
brentron909
Forum Addict
 
Posts: 290
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 9:15 am
Location: East Side

Re: Musicians who flummox

Postby Igor » Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:07 pm

Kenneth Burns wrote:You're probably right. When I was a 12-year-old listening to the song on the radio, that nuance was lost on me, not least because this kind of plainspoken homophobia was much more common then. I enjoyed the tune partly because it was performed by a kid like me. It was like watching "The Bloodhound Gang." With homophobia.


Given his penchant for being offensive towards women and the religious, I'm pretty sure that Frank wasn't overly concerned about bothering someone.

I have never understood the idea that offending a group somehow makes art better - but the marketplace has proven me wrong time and time again.
Igor
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 1547
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2002 11:48 pm

Re: Musicians who flummox

Postby christopher_robin » Wed Oct 31, 2012 9:22 pm

Johnny "Guitar" Watson.

I'm a fan of his blues stylings and funky sensibility, but dude is also sexist and weirdly so. Then there is the (possibly most unsettling) crazy disco thing.

Do we tolerate these eccentricities -- and if not, what of Chuck Berry and 100 more bluesy weirdoes with strange peccadillos -- and take the good with the bad, or throw cold water on the catalog?
christopher_robin
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 2888
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2004 10:46 am

Re: Musicians who flummox

Postby scratch » Thu Nov 01, 2012 8:59 am

Kenneth Burns wrote:You're probably right. When I was a 12-year-old listening to the song on the radio, that nuance was lost on me, not least because this kind of plainspoken homophobia was much more common then. I enjoyed the tune partly because it was performed by a kid like me. It was like watching "The Bloodhound Gang." With homophobia.


I understand the difference between what one hears at age 12 and what one may discover later, but given FZ's catalog before Valley Girl, I would think it's obvious (once the listener has explored some of that back catalog) that in most cases FZ's lyrics were meant to satirize and amuse. From the first time I heard it I thought the bit about the teacher was meant to satirize the Vals. Was Magdelana meant as an endorsement of adult men engaging in sex with their thirteen year old daughters? I think it was meant to mock odd behavior that FZ found repugnant. And I don't think Stuff Up the Cracks was meant as an endorsement of suicide either for that matter. But Rudy Wants to Buy Yez a Drink seems like it was probably an accurate portrayal of Frank's view of union reps.

OTOH having his lyrics misinterpreted was a risk FZ was likley well aware of, especially when those lyrics were encountered by listeners new to his oeuvre. When Valley Girl became his highest-charting single (I think that's still the case) I think FZ was as surprised as anyone and he probably took it as a partial confirmation of his assessment of the intelligence and taste of Vals and mall rats who bought it.
scratch
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 719
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 1:00 pm
Location: Dane County

Re: Musicians who flummox

Postby minicat » Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:06 am

christopher_robin wrote:Next up: Neil Diamond.

This is a guy who wrote more than one song nearly everyone knows. Right there, that's pretty good.

But is he a serious songwriter, or kind of a hack? Do we like Neil ironically, or honestly? Does anyone here actually own any Diamond albums? If so, are they any good?


Bang-era Neil Diamond is catchy, perfect '60s pop, and should be owned by anyone who likes '60s pop.

I've listened to most of the Uni albums, but they're diminishing returns as the ratio of "pop songwriter" to "important songwriter" reversed itself. Haven't been brave/crazy enough to try anything past about '73.
minicat
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 4406
Joined: Mon Nov 04, 2002 2:22 pm

Re: Musicians who flummox

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:18 am

minicat wrote:Bang-era Neil Diamond is catchy, perfect '60s pop, and should be owned by anyone who likes '60s pop.
I agree this is the best era of stuff by him I've heard, but I don't own any of it and I don't feel like it's a collection gap which needs filling. I definitely wouldn't call anything Neil sings on "perfect".

I've never understood why so many real rock'n'rollers seem to love this guy. His appearance in The Last Waltz baffles me to this day (and is definitely a low point in both the film and the soundtrack.) He wrote a handful of good-not-great songs, some of which he seemingly wrote over and over and over again.
Prof. Wagstaff
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 8617
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2002 6:35 pm

PreviousNext

Return to General Music

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

moviesmusiceats
Select a Movie
Select a Theater


FacebookcommentsViewedForum
  ISTHMUS FLICKR

Promotions Contact us Privacy Policy Jobs Newsletters RSS
Collapse Photo Bar