Zappa (9): “Memories of El Monte”

“Memories of El Monte,” the Penguins, 1963 — written by Frank Zappa and Ray Collins. Not often commented upon (at least from what I’ve seen) is the fact that “El Monte” holds its place in pop history as one of the early sampling records, stitching in, as it does, quotes from eight doo-wop classics, all of which are helpfully listed on the song’s Wiki page.

2 thoughts on “Zappa (9): “Memories of El Monte”

  1. As I recall it, 1963 was full of stitched-together records, though not memory records like this, but rather comic songs, e.g., fake interviews where someone would ask a question and the “response” would be a snatch of a record, the singer’s line being the answer; then another question followed by a snatch of another record, and on like that. But “full of stitched-together records” might merely mean “two records” that had an impact on my nine-year-old mind. I usually thought these records were boring, rather than funny. I also don’t remember any titles.

    I wonder if local DJs at various stations around the country put these together (and maybe they weren’t released), or if any became local or national hits.

  2. No, I think you’re right, that’s the context I was thinking about — “one of” the early such records, as I said, though I might’ve said “one of dozens of such records” (but that would mean verifying actual numbers). Point being, I just don’t know if this has been pointed out (about “El Monte,” I mean), in part because this kind of stitch-up is not as glaringly obvious, maybe, as the other sort (the comic quality of which tends to make the stitching more visible, I think). You can get lost in the beauty of the vocals here and not think about the words (well, I can).

    I enjoy on a certain level some of the Dickie Goodman (and Dickie Goodman-type) stuff — “Frankenstein of ’59” et al. But probably more as comedy than music — though the jokes wear thin fast (what’s “funny” about them is the way they are stitched together, probably, not the actual content, which is usually pretty lame). These were also popular for a time during my youth, too — Goodman in fact had a Watergate-themed one on the radio for a short time.

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