Well, after over year of hard work – Frank Zappa and the And: A Contextual Analysis of his Legacy was sent off to the publisher today. There will still be work to do once it goes through the publishing process – but I am so relieved that it is finally packaged up and posted. The goal is that the book will be published by the end of this year, and there really are some fantastic chapters, discussing many areas of Zappa’s legacy that have not being touched upon before. Over the next few months I will occasionally post sort extracts of specific chapters to give interested parties a taster. So – I thought a good place to start would be the Introduction.
‘Composer, guitarist, film maker, satirist and political activist, of all the prominent rock musicians to emerge during the mid 1960’s, Frank Zappa (1940–1993) is arguably the most complex and prolific. During his 27 years in the public eye (1966–1993), Zappa released over 60 official albums between the inaugural The Mothers of Invention recording Freak Out! and Civilization Phase III, a figure that does not include numerous bootleg recordings, or the ‘official’ posthumous releases made available by the Zappa Family Trust. This inexhaustible creativity is complemented by unusual eclecticism, with Zappa being one of the few rock musicians to interface with both high and low culture on a regular basis, a process in which he freely juxtapositioned otherwise disparate musical styles (such as doo-wop, reggae and musique concrète) within the same compositions and albums. Besides a tendency for implementing this artistic freedom via his much quoted maxim, ‘anything, anytime, for no reason at all’, Zappa also progressively cross-referenced his own, other composers’ music, and popular culture at large throughout his career, providing a range of what Roland Barthes described as obvious and obtuse meanings for his audience’…………………………………………..
The chapter then goes on to cross reference many references that relate to Zappa, including – Roland Barthe, Umberto Eco, Eduard Hanslick, Michel Imberty, Robert Walser, Paul Hindermith, Milton Babbitt, James Joyce, Thomas Pynhon, Ben Watson, Plato, Jamie James, Aristotle, Richard Norton, Julian Dodd, Søren Kierkegaard, Joseph Grigley, Richard Middleton, Michel Faucault, John Blacking, Douglas Hofstadter, Nick Cooke, Jean-Jacques Nattiez, and er………………… Frank Zappa.
More to follow next time.