Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


(Not) only in it for the money


Frank Zappa is dead, but judging from some news coverage this week his legacy is doing nicely.

That’s despite (or because of?) his widow’s propensity for suing people who play his music live without authorization. (So, Zappa Plays Zappa, featuring son Dweezil, is sanctioned. Others? Not so much.) Problem is, the law does not seem to be on her side.

This controversy and more is covered in an NPR piece from yesterday. Here’s the link, where you can read the transcript or, better yet — listen to the story complete with Zappa music.  You have no idea my thrill at hearing sections of “Lumpy Gravy” and “We’re Only in it For the Money” coming from the radio in my car and not a CD. Dropped as it was on me in such a surprising way, I was struck again my Zappa’s inventive genius. As Rolling Stone’s David Fricke is quoted in this piece, “It’s almost as if Frank Zappa was writing avant-garde classical music in Top 40 segments.” I think that’s about right. Forty years later, it’s still astonishing.

The other bit of Zappa news is this: Forget Nostradamus, who couldn’t predict his way back to wherever he left his car. It’s Frank Zappa who laid out the fundamentals and business model for filesharing and iTunes — back in 1989. And now he’s getting some credit for it.

One Response to “(Not) only in it for the money”

  1. Rich Roesberg Says:

    I have to agree that Gail Zappa doesn’t have a case. Lots of bands play other folks music live and don’t pay. As far as Frank being ahead of the times in his thinking, that was true in many areas. And THE REAL FRANK ZAPPA BOOK is a great read.

    Dweezil’s band, Zappa Plays Zappa is amazing. I’ve been to two concerts and have the 5 disc DVD/CD set. Used to go see Frank live, got to meet him, and even heard the band rehearse — until FZ called me over to the stage and said something like, “Hey kid. There’s a coffee place right down the street. Here’s a list of what we want and some money. Okay?”

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