Blow Your Goofy Saxophone, Son

Am in the midst of a Zappadan mutual admiration contest with irisclara over at The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing. This blogger is really putting some great stuff out there, as are a bunch of other folks of course. That’s the lovely thing about Zappadan. There’s always something useful under the tree.

Like this. I’ve not heard before, introduced to me via previously mentioned blogger. George Thorogood covered “Trouble Every Day” in 1997.

Thorogood in an interview with Sheila Rene, March 13, 2003, he blamed session guitarist and producer Waddy Wachtel for this track’s existence:

GT: That guy’s crazy! He’s crazier than I am. I made the mistake of mentioning Frank Zappa’s tune “Trouble Everyday.” He said ‘we’re going to record that thing.’ I said ‘we’re not going to record that. That’s Frank’s. That’s “Like A Rolling Stone” to Dylan. That’s Frank’s.’ Waddy comes back with ‘you’re not leaving here without recording it.’ I said ‘it won’t be easy.’ Waddy says ‘I don’t care. And he made me do it.’

SR: It’s my favorite song on the album for me.

GT: Then it was worth it to get Sheila Rene’ to come speak to me this afternoon.

As you will see below, it is interesting that Thorogood chose to compare “Trouble” to “Like A Rolling Stone.”

Later, same interview, Thorogood offers a fitting tribute quote while discussing legendary producer Bill Graham, who died in 1991:

Bill and Frank are probably hanging together. While we were messing around with “Trouble Everyday” I’d mention Frank Zappa and people were really cheering and happy about Frank. I said ‘You know Frank, he just split because he was done with this. He had turned us on to everything we could possibly be turned on to. Now, he’s waiting for us.’

Waiting for us to get our shit together like he told us to, I think.

“Trouble Every Day” is a unique Zappa product. It may be the only song he ever wrote that wasn’t a doo-wop send-up and that didn’t bend over backwards with satire to make his point. This was a straight-ahead editorial statement by the man about some insanity. You don’t get that often from Frank Zappa’s music. Funny he didn’t write more like it since it was this song that got the Mothers a recording contract.

From Barry Miles’ Zappa: A Biography:

MGM-Verve had just hired a new A&R man and in-house producer called Tom Wilson. In the late fifties and early sixties he had produced avant-garde jazz artists such as Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor and John Coltrane. In 1963 Columbia Records made him Bob Dylan’s producer after Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman, pressured them to replace John Hammond. Wilson produced Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home (1965) and converted Dylan to rock ‘n’ roll by overdubbing three of his 1961-2 tracks with electric instruments to demonstrate how his folk music would sound with a rock ‘n’ roll beat. He also produced Dylan’s ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ single, of which Zappa said ‘When I Heard “Like A Rolling Stone” I wanted to quit the music business, because I felt “If this wins and does what it’s suppossed to do, I don’t need to do anything else.”…but it didn’t do anything. It sold, but nobody responded to it the way they should have.’

Wilson, who disliked folk music, applied the same technique to Simon and Garfunkel, overdubbing electric insturments on the previously acoustic ‘Sounds of Silence’ and giving them a Number One hit. On the strength of this he was hired by Verve as head of East Coast A&R. His first move was to sign the Velvet Underground, producing their first two albums (though the first is credited to Andy Warhol who, in reality, only sat and watched).

In January 1966 Wilson visited the Coast. One evening at the Trip he met Herb Cohen and accompanied him to the Whiskey to catch the Mothers. He arrived while they were doing an extended boogie workout of the ‘Watts Riot Song’. Wilson was black and probbably appreciated the anti-racist sentiments of the song; at any rate, according to Zappa ‘He heard us sing “The Watts Riot Song (Trouble Every Day)”. He stayed for five minutes, said “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” slapped me on the back, shook my hand and said, “Wonderful. We’re gonna make a record of you. Goodbye.”

Here’s audio of a performance of it at a little place that happens to be a home beacon of sorts for us Bonks: Edinboro State College, 1974.

There is a newsworthy note worth mentioning regarding the song: Dick Turpin died last week at 91. Turpin, real estate editor for the LA Times, was part of a team that won a Pulitzer for its coverage of the Watts riots.

4 thoughts on “Blow Your Goofy Saxophone, Son”

  1. This is the funky version from Roxy and elsewhere, ah believe. Cool, but the early FZ/mothers version mo’ uptempo, sort of Stones-like rock. Yo B, maybe post some of those great Roxy instrumentals (with that classic promise not to cum in yr mouth)

    When I Heard “Like A Rolling Stone” I wanted to quit the music business, because I felt “If this wins and does what it’s suppossed to do, I don’t need to do anything else.”…

    Heh. Zappa didn’t care much for Dylan (not sure what Zimmy thought of Zappa). There’s a great parody of Dylan on Joe’s Garage (not my fave but funny at times) and other folkies (byrds, crosby cash, doung, etc)–not sure who sings ’em–Bozzio? Vai? wicked..

  2. Thanks for the research. That’s more than I knew about the Thorogood cover although I’ve had it for years. You’ve also given me some insight into a bootleg song I have that Frank calls The Heat’s Out Every Night. He tells the band that it’s the Watts Riot Song with other lyrics but it doesn’t sound much like Trouble Every Day. I guess I know what today’s post will be.

  3. George gets the sound of the original pretty close, though maybe not quite FZ’s baritone.

    Another odd FZ/Mothers oddity: Flower Punk. Parody of …Hey Joe, great number written by an LA Band –Seeds?–before …Hendrix took off with it . FZ remixed it later. Sort of entertainin.

  4. AS requested!

    play dat George

    ah heard Jimi wasn’t too pleased wit’ FZ (Z-dan research question–who was originally writer of Hey Joe? (which led to FZ/MoI Flower Punk parody) . FZ at times attempts Hendrix….not always so successfully. Need mo’ dope, most likely.

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