Day 303: Peaches en Regalia

I log into Miles’s accounts occasionally to keep them active. I am afraid if they are not active that the companies might shut them off and we will lose all evidence of him in these different formats. I am afraid that buried deep in his online presence there may be some piece of him that we will lose.

I logged into his email account and looked at some of his messages. I was looking for info about where he had his film developed. I found two from 2012.

One was to his band teacher.He wanted to see if the high school marching band could play Zappa’s Peaches en Regalia. I am not sure how that turned out. It is a tough song.

One was to the director of the Bucknell University craft center.  “My name’s Miles and I have been shooting film for the past couple years and processing it at the Williamsport Community Darkroom where I learned the process.” He wanted to see if the Bucknell craft center had color processing available so he could learn. They did not. He never learned.

In both of these messages, Miles was grateful and humble. He was complimentary. They showed for me and reminded me so much of his personality: kind, generous, resourceful, grateful and curious. He always wanted to learn. He was always pushing for more.

Day 101: Magic Fingers

When Zappa reformed the Mothers of Invention in the early 70s, he added Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman as the lead singers. Their stage names were Flo and Eddie. Before joining the Mothers, they were the lead singers of the Turtles. The movie 200 Motels— starring Ringo Starr as Frank Zappa and Keith Moon as a nun– featured Flo and Eddie and a great drummer, Aynsley Dunbar.

That’s enough. I won’t bother you all again with this stuff.

Day 99: Debra Kadabra

Zappa and Captain Beefheart grew up together in the California desert.  Zappa produced Trout Mask Replica, and I think his direction is an important part of what makes the album so great. They toured together in 1976.  This is the best song on that album, Bongo Fury.

In a phone call with Jason Sims, the Alabamy Comet, Tom Scharpling compared Zappa’s music to listening to an obscene phone call over a skipping copy of Bitches Brew.  I don’t disagree, but maybe some people like listening to an obscene phone call over a skipping copy of Bitches Brew.

Day 97: Orange County Lumber Truck

I bought the Weasels Ripped My Flesh album from Backstreet Records when I was in college.  I don’t think I ever bought a new Zappa CD. I bought almost all of them from the used CD bin, or I received them as gifts. When people are thinning their shelves, Zappa is probably the first thing to go from a lot of music collections. I was happy to bottom-feed the bins at Wizard and Backstreet. Fine with me.

Day 96: Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing?

Zappa compiled a six-volume set of his live recordings. You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore is a 12-CD compilation that includes performances from his entire career. He stitches together songs performed by all of his line-ups so that it sounds like all of his musicians are on stage at once with different sets of performers stepping forward to perform a song.

The best of the collection is Volume 2, a complete recording of a 1971 concert in Helsinki. The line-up is great.  Ruth Underwood is the percussionist. George Duke plays keyboards.  The show is great. It is an amazing piece of music and this is my favorite song they performed that night.

Day 95: Teenage Wind

I remember at a New Year’s Eve party, someone had a Zappa CD, You Are What You Is.  I heard it from the other room and I had to listen. I am not sure what it was that drew me to it.

You Are What You Is is a dense and relentless album. Unlike many Zappa albums, there are no really long jazzy tracks that take up a lot of space. It is full of songs, many of them imitations of pop song styles.  I heard this song, the first track on the album and I had to listen. I am not sure why, but I loved this album and it brings back memories of that time when I was in college and lived above a bookstore.

Day 94: Uncle Meat

If you are considering taking a break from reading this blog, I recommend that you do it this week.  My close friends have been dreading this moment. This is the week I post a bunch of Zappa songs. I do not listen to Zappa’s music much anymore.  But I used to be insufferable about it. I have a big CD case that holds all 50+ Zappa CDs (plus related Zappa music like Beefheart and the GTOs).  I lent it to Connor recently because I thought he’d enjoy it. It is so big, so massive and I think he is a bit intimidated by it. He asked for some recommendations of where to start, so I will use this blog to share some of my favorites. Miles was curious about Zappa but he never got into him. This is for Miles too, my letter to him about something I liked when I was about his age. I have very distinct memories of hearing Zappa’s music at different times. One time a long time ago, we made a trip to Eide’s in Pittsburgh and I found a used version of the Uncle Meat album on CD.  When I first heard the opening song, I was blown away. It is really intense.