I was listening to SiriusXM’s Deep Tracks channel yesterday on the way to work, and this song got stuck in my head.
This, of course, is the late great (I’ve been using that term way too much. All my favorite musicians are dying off!), Frank Zappa. Frank never was a big commercial artist. And while I did know some of his music, this was the first album of his I bought. Sheik Yerbouti was released in March of 1979. And with the title track and Dancin’ Fool, they are probably his only commercial hits other than Valley Girl. I have since bought several of his earlier releases, with Weasels Ripped My Flesh (August 1970) and Waka/Jawaka (July 1972) as my favorites. But Baby Snakes (March 1983) is an excellent album as well. Valley Girl is his only track to be nominated for a Grammy and remains his top-selling single.
One of the lyrics in the song below talks about one leg being shorter than the other. This is a reference to an event that took place in London. From the wiki page;
On December 4, 1971, Zappa suffered his first of two serious setbacks. While performing at Casino de Montreux in Switzerland, the Mothers’ equipment was destroyed when a flare set off by an audience member started a fire that burned down the casino. Immortalized in Deep Purple‘s song “Smoke on the Water“, the event and immediate aftermath can be heard on the bootleg album Swiss Cheese/Fire, released legally as part of Zappa’s Beat the Boots II compilation. After losing $50,000 (equivalent to $302,000 in 2017) worth of equipment and a week’s break, the Mothers played at the Rainbow Theatre, London, with rented gear. During the encore, audience member Trevor Howell pushed Zappa off the stage and into the concrete-floored orchestra pit. The band thought Zappa had been killed—he had suffered serious fractures, head trauma and injuries to his back, leg, and neck, as well as a crushed larynx, which ultimately caused his voice to drop a third after healing.
This attack resulted in an extended period of wheelchair confinement, making touring impossible for over half a year. Upon return to the stage in September 1972, Zappa was still wearing a leg brace, had a noticeable limp and could not stand for very long while on stage. Zappa noted that one leg healed “shorter than the other” (a reference later found in the lyrics of songs “Zomby Woof” and “Dancin’ Fool“), resulting in chronic back pain.
Have a favorite song of Zappa? Can’t stand him? Leave a comment!