do you remember the CD you gave me last year with the compilation of some rock, pop and jazz music? In fact I never really had time to listen to it while I lived in the Helmholtz Guesthouse. Last year in Munich I was so busy with other things, with my MSc project and learning the complicate mouse genetics, I also felt homesick for Sweden and my parents and therefore only listened to persian music. And of course, every other free moment you have been around and drove with me to the river bank and the beach, to nice restaurants and music-clubs and theater and many more. It was a busy time, you know, and hence the CD compilation got somehow lost among many other silverplates with scientific stuff and photographs and lecture hand outs.
Today in the evening, my brother found this CD and was attracted by the hand written label on it: 20th century rock music. He put it into his stereo and turned on the volume, and there started a nice song, very easy listening style, but I never heard it before. My dad immediately listened up and called us all. He told us that this song “Bobby Brown goes Down” is by the great rock singer Frank Zappa, who already in 1979 foresaw that the so-called “islamic revolution” in his home Iran will end in a cultural dictatorship. My dad just asked me to send you his warmest regards for introducing this intelligent, brave and tallented musician to his daughter.
(and I have to say sorry for not listening to the music on the CD before).
Take Care, Michael, I hope you are doing fine.
Mrs. F., my dear,
I think me and your dad would have a lot in common, in particular if it comes to politics. Your dad, however was obviously much more strikt in his decisions, and left the totalitarian regime in Iran, whereas myself always tried to find a niche in the east-german pseudo-democracy. And Frank Zappa, whom we could easily listen to via west-Berlin radiostations, was part of the entertainment in this socio-political niche.
Frank Zappa was one of the most innovative and influential, but also controversal rock-musicians. His huge oevre covered jazz-rock classics like “Peaches in Regalia” , but also some top ten hits like “Don’t eat that yellow snow” and “Bobby Brown goes Down” from the 1979 album “Sheigh Sherbouti”.
Zappa always acknowledged his music being influenced by 20th century classic music, in particular by composers Igor Stravinsky and Edgar Varese. In 1970 Zappa met Zubin Mehta, conductor of LA Philharmony Orchestra and descendent of an indian Parsi family. Zappas Mothers of Invention and Mehtas Orchestra played together the concert 200 Motels
Even though his lyrics became more and more complex, and political messages woven into satirical stories, Zappa never led any doubt what he thought about the Washington establishment and religious bigotry. In the video to the fusion-jazz piece “You are what you is” he calls Ronald Reagan a president from hell. I was always wondering how Zappa, wouldn’t he have died too early in 1993, could bear to live in a country that 10 years later was lead and send to war by the lunatic George W. Bush. On September 19, 1985, Zappa testified before the United States Senate Commerce, Technology, and Transportation committee, attacking the “Parents Music Resource Center” (PMRC), a music organization co-founded by Tipper Gore, wife of then-senator Al Gore. The PMRC consisted of many wives of politicians, including the wives of five members of the committee, and was founded to address the issue of song lyrics with sexual or satanic content. Zappa saw their activities as on a path towards censorship. His high sensitivity for political oppression was seen during production of the 1979 triple LP Joe”s Garage, comprising a rock opera about the danger of political systems, the suppression of freedom of speech and music. Inspired in by the Islamic revolution that had made music illegal within its jurisdiction at the time, it also addressed the “strange relationship Americans have with sex and sexual frankness”.
Whether one likes Zappas very open political statements, denouncing the hypocrisis of the western moral standards and their corruption by the political system, or not, whether you think his language is sexist and chauvinistic or just right to fight the political correctness, one thing about him remains that nowbody can deny: That he was one, if not the most productive, independent, intelligent and influential musicians of the 20s century. It is sad that he died before experiencing how a new generation of iranians will reinstall freedom, music and creativity in Tehran. I”m sure he would have greeted the green movement with highest sympathy. Enjoy and share with your friends and family !
It is pitty you are so far now, so we cannot go to a concert this summer.
Hope for the future,
Enjoy anyhow, TAKE CARE, Mrs. F.