Over the course of the next several months, I’m going to do something a little — how would Stephen Colbert say it? — detourey, and post a bunch of stuff about Frank Zappa. Although in fact, it won’t be entirely a detour; many of my posts will do one, or more than one, of the following:
a) quote things written about Zappa by various rock critics throughout the years;
b) sometimes grapple with the critical implications of said quotes;
c) examine, either head-on or in a roundabout way, my own critical response to Zappa and his art over the years, which has been all over the map, to put it mildly (I mean my response, though it’s obviously true of his art as well), and in no way feels even remotely resolved, beyond the fact that I’m now a much more vocal fan of Zappa than I’ve ever been — a statement that, nevertheless, still comes built in with a fair bit of hemming and hawing and second-guessing going on simultaneously.
My methodology will follow the methodology I feel most comfortable with these days when taking on a writing project: very hodge-podge and scrapbook-like, a lot of sampling, dipping my toes in various waters, etc. I suppose you could say this is my personal Eagles/Rush/Celine Dion move; my attempt to put an artist I’ve thought about a lot over the years, and sometimes in fairly unpleasant terms, into fresh perspective.
Only one disclaimer up top. If you know a lot about Zappa, prepare to scoff lots at my naivety on the subject. Similarly, feel free to correct me, slap me in the head, point out gaps in my Zappa knowledge, etc. The truth is, despite having thought a fair bit about certain elements of Zappa, I’m not super-conversant with whole swaths of his recorded output (a relatively small fraction of the population is, I imagine; the number of recordings officially available — 120 CDs is one estimate I’ve come across — is nothing short of daunting). I hope this undertaking helps me better that situation, but make no mistake, this is more about discovery for me than explication.
So, the next move (the first post) will happen… some time (btw, did I mention that I have absolutely no time to be doing any of this?). And I’ll keep chipping away as well at completing the migration of rockcriics archives material, plus anything else I feel like using this space for.