I was a freshman at the University of Kansas in 1966 when I first heard Freakout. My roommate, a very hip musician from Chicago (he now owns a music store in Topeka) wanted the album badly but was broke. Me, a way unhip near adolescent kid from rural Kansas, happened to have money that week. So we made a deal. I would get a number of albums from Don’s existing collection and buy Freak Out for Don. I think I got four albums, maybe five. I only remember one of them. It was a Ray Charles collection that included Georgia on my Mind, which I played until I wore it out. Then there was The Mothers of Invenstion.
There was something particularly liberating about Freak Out. It catalogued my adolescence… (Ronnie helping Kenny, Helping Burn his Poots away) … satirized teenage angst (What about all those other guys…that’s why I had to get my kahki’s pressed), gave us all something of an identity… (Hungry Freaks, Daddy), let us make fun of the pretentious mindless shits that seemed to be everywhere in those days (I will go to the Haight, and I will join a Rock and Roll Band) and put The Establishment into perspective, whether it was Bow Tie Daddy, or the Brain Police or TV Dinners by the Pool. I later got my own copy of Freak Out and added Only In it for the Money, Burnt Weeny Sandwich and Cruisin with Reuben and the Jets. Brady has since provided a number of other Zappas to the collection.
Burnt Weeny Sandwich is still a personal favorite…its Frank’s first serious foray into Jazz and I think I hear references to it in a lot of modern music. Frank became a political hero at the PMRC hearings. Al Gore’s sponsorship of the hearings was one reason I was lukewarm to the Clinton ticket in 1992, and even in 2000 I had to swallow hard to overcome my feeling that Gore never really understood what the first amendment was all about.
I agree with Frank that parents should make their own choices about how much stuff they let their kids watch or read or listen to. I never censored anything Brady saw or heard or read, and have adopted a similar rule with his little brother. (The broader availability of pornography today has made me a little more circumspect about what he may have access to on television, however. I am not prepared to discuss cunninglingus with my 12 year old).