How did Frank Zappa come up with the titles for his tracks? All about his album "Guitar"

The story of one of the hundred albums of guitar improvisation gurus...

How did Frank Zappa choose the titles for his tracks? All about his album "Guitar"

Frank Zappa is an unprecedented and absolutely incredible phenomenon in the history of music. During his lifetime, this man published 63 albums, with about a third of them being double or even triple. Sometimes Zappa released seven albums in one year. With such a busy schedule, Zappa did not use drugs or drink alcohol: how does he have time for this?

Thanks to the Zappa family, his discography has grown posthumously and now stands at about 100 albums. At the same time, his music is not an endless repetition of something that he was just good at. This is an endless stream of bold and unusual improvisations with guitar and synclavier. His work not only does not bother, but continues to amaze so far! Zappa was a virtuoso of improvisation. In order not to miss anything, he recorded all his concerts and rehearsals. As a result, his work is something immense and a little confusing, so that even "appomaniacs" sometimes have difficulty understanding it. Let's talk about only one album of this unique musician and in this example we will see the level of his skill.

Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa


Initially, the Guitar album was supposed to be released in three parts, but this time Zappa decided to try something new and released the album not only on vinyl, but also on CD. The two sides of the CD managed to fit all 32 tracks of his new album. The vinyl version of the album was cut to 19 tracks and released under Zappa's "Barking Pumpkin" label.

Of particular interest in the album are not only compositions, but also their titles. The way the author calls his works says a lot about his character, mindset. The titles of the compositions on the album "Guitar" have a lot of references to history, popular culture, real people and other rather unexpected things. For example, "Do Not Pass Go" refers to the game "Monopoly", where this phrase does not allow the player to receive a cash bonus.

"Jim & Tammy's Upper Room" is reminiscent of television evangelist Jim Bakker and his wife, Tammy Faye Massner.

Three of Were's "We Ever Really Safe in San Antonio?", "Sunrise Redeemer" and "Hotel Atlanta Incidentals" are all references to places where he has performed.

The name "Move It or Park It" is also a colloquial expression that can be translated as "Either drive or park" and applied to an unsure driver.

"Orrin Hatch on Skis" refers to Senator Orrin Hatch, whom Zappa somehow decided to put on skis...

"But Who Was Fulcanelli?" is a reference to a 19th century French alchemist and writer whose pen name was Fulcanelli.

"Do Not Try This At Home" is a phrase that warns viewers not to repeat dangerous stunts seen on TV programs. Such a phrase sounds especially ironic, because Zappa's improvisations are really difficult and even "dangerous" for unprepared beginners.

"Chalk Pie" Zappa came up with long before the release of the album "Guitar". A release with that name was planned back in 1982, but it was never implemented, and compositions from it were eventually released on two other albums: "Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Wich" and "The Man From Utopia".

"Canadian Customs" is a reference to an incident that happened to Frank and two other musicians, Napoleon Murphy Brock and Andre Lewis, at Canadian Customs in 1975. According to him, he created some problems for the customs officers...

"It Ain't Necessarily the Saint James Infirmary" contains a more complex reference to two works at once. First: a composition by George and Ira Gershwin called "It Ain't Necessarily So". Second: St. James Infirmary Blues, an unknown composition, which gained wide popularity in the performance of Louis Armstrong, and after him - Cab Calloway. Interestingly, in Zappa's album, the authorship of the melody is attributed to Joe Primrose.

"Winos Do Not March" was a rather mysterious track until Zappa's autobiography The Real Frank Zappa Book came out, which has this interesting excerpt:

I have a theory about beer that drinking too much leads to pseudo-military behavior. Think: after all, those who get drunk with wine do not march!

Very interesting idea, Frank!

Monopoly, senators and alchemists - all this makes up the big picture, the character of Frank Zappa. He was not only talented, but also an educated and comprehensively developed person, an interesting conversationalist.

Zappa has received numerous awards for his talent. The Guitar album alone earned him a Grammy Award, the sixth in his collection. Zappa was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his amazing achievements in guitar music. Musicians such as Alice Cooper and Paul McCartney have acknowledged the influence of Frank Zappa on their work. And even now his improvisations explode the brain and have a hypnotic effect...

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