Monday, May 14, 2007

Anecdote #464 scene one

this story might be best served as a play with 3 scenes.

it begins in late 1977 in the basement of frank zappa's hollywood home. it's a saturday and as usual I'm learning the material for next week's rehearsals. being the only "non-reader" in the band this was a common way for me to prepare. today's lesson is a brand new song frank has just written called flakes.
frank did not play guitar and sing at the same time. if you watch footage of his concerts he's either playing the guitar or singing, never both. I found out why. he quietly played and sang the middle section of the song for me. it sounded terrible. like a bad folk song. I started making fun of him by singing it in a bob dylan voice; "I asked as nice as I coouuld".
"that's it," said frank, "that's in the show."
and that is how I ended up doing a bob dylan imitation on a frank zappa record.
I always wondered what bob dylan might think of it.


  1. I remember Flakes, from Sheik Yerbouti. You just answered a question I had for Madame Mecca. How did you guys learn those quirky parts to the Zappa songs? I thought probably by simply reading them.

    "Spies" would be great for a spoken word thing. You read blogs, and spies (or other soundtrack music) is the background.

  2. I must guess that ex-Zappa guys must rankle a little at having to answer questions about Frank, but little stories like this are cool from time to time.

  3. I have to add a "me too" and agree that these anecdotes are just gold. Fabulous. Book! Book! Book!

    P. S. I bought a Parker this weekend, but it didn't come in "Tangerine Belew." My wife remarked how the orange Parker looked like it was on fire when they brought it out at the Blueberry Hill show. Schweet.

  4. Good God, I'm starting to feel sorry for Bob Dylan, Parody Victim Extraordinaire. Then again, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then that's why Bob Dylan doesn't go around punching people's lights out...he has been, uh, "flattered" by the best.

  5. I love Flakes! it's one of my favorite Zappa songs.

    I wonder what you thought of Weird Al's Flakes "inspired" Genius In France?

  6. Thanks Adrian, I've always wondered how that little 'tribute' came to be. Did you play the harp fills too?

  7. I bought Sheik Yerbouti in '78 and Flakes was my favorite tune on it, even before I knew who you were.

    It's quite a delight to hear all of these stories!

    I always perceived Dylan as *not* a normal person, rather Russian doll of enigmas, mystic, an icon, etc., completely forgetting that he was human. It just seemed as though he always spoke in code, like a Delphi oracle.

    So I was completely surprised how normal and readable his biographical book was! Right - besides being Bob Dylan, he's a real person.

    (Adrian, the Slicks really need to see Boston this year! I'm hoping that the dates announced so far are just the start of the tour.)


  8. morningstar:
    yes, I play the harmonica parts. usually sometime during the song I would put the harmonica to my forehead and just bluuuuuuu into the microphone.
    always a crowd pleaser.