“Girl you thought it was a man, but it was a muffin…”
I wonder where Johnny Franklin is now…
01 Deathless Horsie
02 Dancin’ Fool
03 Easy Meat
04 Honey Don’t You Want A Man Like Me?
05 Keep It Greasey
06 Village Of The Sun
07 The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing
08 City Of Tiny Lights
09 Pound For A Brown
10 Bobby Brown
12 Mo’s Vacation
13 The Black Page
14 Is That Guy Kidding Or What?
15 I Have Been In You
17 Magic Fingers
18 Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow
19 Nanook Rubs It
20 St Alfonzo’s Pancake Breakfast
21 Father O’Blivion
23 Little House I Used To Live In
24 Tell Me You Love Me
25 Yo Mama
26 Black Napkins
It’s no secret that Frank Zappa was a huge influence on Trey Anastasio and Phish. I remember reading this piece Trey wrote on Zappa for Rolling Stone a few years ago, but just came across it on Phantasy Tour and thought I’d share for those of you that had perhaps missed it.
In the early years of Phish, people often said we were like “Frank Zappa meets the Grateful Dead” — which sounds very bizarre. But Zappa was incredibly vital to me, as a composer and guitarist. I think he was the best electric-guitar player, other than Jimi Hendrix. Zappa conceptualized the instrument in a completely different way, rhythmically and sonically. Every boundary that was possible on the guitar was examined by him.
I’ll never forget the first time I saw him live, in New York, when I was in high school. He would leave his guitar on a stand as he conducted the band. He would get the keyboard player doing a riff, get him in key, while he was smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee, pacing around as he got this groove going. And he would not pick up the guitar until everything was totally together. There would be this moment — this collective breath from the audience — as he walked over, picked it up and started playing the most ripping, beautiful solo. When he played, he was in communion with the instrument.
Another thing that was very cool: His interplay was always with drummers. In a lot of jam-style guitar playing, the drummer sets off a groove, and the guitarist riffs off another guitarist or keyboard player. I saw Zappa at Memorial Auditorium in Burlington, Vermont, on his last tour, in 1988. He did this guitar solo in “City of Tiny Lites” where everybody in the band dropped out except drummer Chad Wackerman. I was in the balcony near the side of the stage. When Zappa turned his back on the audience to play with Chad, I saw this huge smile on his face. They were ripping together, and he was blissed out.
But it says so much about Zappa that this was also the guy who did orchestral pieces like The Yellow Shark. It’s hard to believe somebody could do so many different things in a lifetime.
Zappa was a huge influence on how I wrote music for Phish. Songs like “You Enjoy Myself” and “Split Open and Melt” were completely charted out — drums, bass lines, everything — because he had shown me it was possible. And when I went to Bonnaroo two years ago with my ten-piece band, we did two covers, Charlie Daniels’ “Devil Went Down to Georgia” and “Sultans of Swing,” by Dire Straits. In both songs, I had the horn section play the guitar solos, note for note. I never would have thought of doing that if I hadn’t seen Zappa do “Stairway to Heaven” in Burlington, with the horns playing Jimmy Page’s entire guitar solo, in harmony.
That’s not what people are doing these days. I’m making a new album, and the producer I’m working with told me that there is a whole generation of musicians coming up who can’t play their instruments. Because of stuff like Pro Tools, they figure they can fix it all in the studio. Whereas with Frank, his musicians were pushed to the absolute brink of possibility on their instruments, at all times. Phish tried hard to do that too: to take our four little instruments and do as much as we could with them. I would not have envisioned those possibilities without him.
Zappa gave me the faith that anything in music was possible. He demystified the whole thing for musicians in my generation: “Look, these are just instruments. Find out what the range is, and start writing.”
Multi-instrumentalist, producer, composer, Frank Zappa died of prostrate cancer on this date in 1993. Zappa recorded many albums with The Mothers Of Invention and solo, 1969 album ‘Hot Rats’, 1974 album ‘Apostrophe’, featuring ‘Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow’. His first band was The Blackouts, Zappa recorded one of the first concept albums, ‘Freak Out’.
Cosmik Debris, Inca Roads, Pygmy Twylyte, Idiot Bastard, Son Of Cheepnis, Big Swifty, Dickie’s Such An Asshole, Father O’blivion, Son Of Mr Green Genes/King Kong/Chunga’s Revenge
Jim Gordon was a top session drummer from 1963 to 1973, keeping time for John Lennon, George Harrison, Frank Zappa, Traffic, Steely Dan, and Derek and the Dominoes. (He also wrote the elegant piano part that became the second half of “Layla.”) But tragically, he spent the ’70s wrestling with schizophrenia. “The voices were chasing me around,” Gordon said in 1985. “Making me drive to different places. Starving me. I was only allowed one bite of food a meal. And if I disobeyed, the voices would fill me with a rage, like the Hulk gets.” He checked himself into psychiatric hospitals at least fourteen times in six years. On June 1st, 1983, he checked himself out; two days later, he killed his mother with a hammer and a butcher’s knife. Gordon was convicted of second-degree murder (California law made it extremely difficult to prove insanity), and remains in prison today.