Welcome to the United States

The Yellow Shark, An Appreciation. Merry Zappadan.

From the liner notes, in mid-paragraph:

[Herman] Kretzschmar, who is normally employed at the piano, cembalo, and celeste, found himself inside a piano at Joe’s Garage rehearsals, reciting everything from his library card to a rather colorful letter-to-the-editor of a flesh-piercing magazine (detailing methods of impaling genitals) while the Ensemble gamely improvised under Zappa’s direction. At the “Yellow Shark” concerts, Kretzschmar’s Dr. Strangelove-like vocalizing was employed to recite (verbatim) actual questions from a less-than-hospitable U.S. customs form during “Welcome to the United States. This points up another of Zappa’s characteristics compositional traits: he is open to chance and whimsy in choosing subjects and themes, whether in music or text. He often makes artistic use of whatever happens along (hence the customs form, piercing magazine, and libray card)—a concept he labels “Anything Anytime Anyplace For No Reason At All” (AAAFNRAA) As [Todd] Yvega, who is also a composer commented: “A lot of times in the world of so-called serious music, people take it so seriously. To Frank, everything is entertainment. You’re either entertained, or you’re not. And nothing is serious. Which is why you can have something that supposedly is serious and suddenly have someone stick his plunger on the side of his face. I do think of his music as being important in the sense I think it will be around for many centuries. It’s serious in that respect, but it is, after all, there to amuse us.

When I read this, I knew I simply had to get my hands on Everything Is Healing Nicely. A hint: Don’t bother going to Amazon if you, too, want to acquire this gem. You can only get it there as a collectible, for like $50. You can get it right from the source for $20. It comes in a beautiful felt case (though I am afraid it will be mighty difficult to keep clean, especially if you happen to reside with a long-haired cat as I do).

Kretzschmar is a rare talent, and Zappa saw that and tapped it. From the EIHN liner notes:

The distinctive timbre of his voice, the German accent, and the humorous pace of his delivery obviously struck Frank as a vehicle to be developed and utilized.

Indeed:

The source material for this piece is certainly worth a read.


On a somewhat-related note, there is a typo in the liner notes that tickles me senseless.

[Zappa] acted as emcee, and conducted three pieces in those two concerts: “Food Gathering in Post-Industrial America, 1992”, “Welcome to the Untied States” and the encore, ” G-Spot Tornado.”

It has been my preferred editorial style for a long time to refer to the country in which we reside as the Untied States. It is now a style that is fortified in print. Grin.


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