Zappa in New York was the first Zappa album I had consciously heard. My father used to play a lot of him, no doubt, when we were younger. But there was one day when my older brother called me into our shared room, and handed me an audio tape. “You gotta listen to this funny song”, he said. And I did.
The song that open the Zappa live album recorded in NYC in the late 1970’s is Titties & Beer, and that particular performance will always be the original for me, even though it was played many other times. I don’t even know if there is a studio version of it. I’ll have to check that out.
What striked me about that album is how carefree it was. My brother and I listened to that whole album shortly after the discovery of that song, and I fell in love with the gig almost immediately. My brother was doing other things at the time, and didn’t really get into Zappa. Not as much as I did, anyway. I walked up to my pa, and I told him that that show must’ve been something. He told me if I think he is weird – which I did – I should’ve seen the crowds and freaks at the Halloween Zappa concerts in New York. He was at one or two of them at the time, and he said it was quite an experience, to say the least.
FZ has since died, but it is very comforting to know that his children are carrying on his legacy in their way. Dweezil Zappa and his group are playing the Zappa Plays Zappa concerts all over the world, and are delighting millions with their tight sound and generous covers. It is only appropriate that a Zappa will want to keep his father’s music alive. And Dweezil is a talented and gifted musician on his own, let alone when he steps into his father’s shoes.
Zappa was a highly prolific writer and artist. He was a wonderful conductor who could get so much out of his band and his audience. His body may be gone, but his spirit and music live on in a big way, through those of us attending shows, buying CDs, downloading files, and “getting down with our bad selves”, as he says during the NYC gig. That music is still amazing to me. I could write an academic paper on the evolution of The Black Page alone.