(Zappa, CD, Zappa Records ZR 20011, September 19, 2010)
Produced by Gail Zappa
Music composed, performed & recorded by FZ
Burp Art Performances by Jade Teta
Program Assemblage by GZ with Joe Travers and a little help from Todd Yvega
Vaultmeisterment by Joe Travers for UMRK
Mastering & Audio Restoration by John Polito, Audio Mechanics
Cover art by Bill Miller
Liner notes by Larry Stein
Art direction, concept & text by GZ
Layout design & execution & cover photo by Michael Mesker
FZ Vilnius bust photo by Diva Zappa
Production Management by Melanie Starks
Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
September 19, 1985
CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW . . .
Mr. Frank Zappa . . . Mr. Zappa, thank you very much for being with us. Please proceed.
OK. My name is Frank Zappa. This is my attorney Larry Stein from Los Angeles. Can you hear me?
Could you— If you could speak very directly and clearly into the microphone, I would appreciate it.
OK. My name is Frank Zappa. This is my attorney Larry Stein.
The statement that I prepared, that I sent you 100 copies of, is five pages long, so I have shortened it down and I'm going to read a condensed version of it.
Certain things have happened. I have been listening to the event in the other room and have heard some conflicting reports as to whether or not people in this committee want legislation. I understand that Mr. Hollings does from his comments. Is that correct?
I think you better concentrate on your testimony, rather than asking questions to the committee, Mr. Zappa.
The reason I need to ask it, because I have to change something in my testimony if there is not a clearcut version of whether or not legislation is what is being discussed here.
Do the best you can, because I don't think anybody here can characterize Mr. Hollings— Senator Hollings' position.
OK. I will carry on with the issue, then. First thing . . .
Mr. Chairman, I might help him out just a little bit. I might make a statement.
This is one Senator that might be interested in legislation and/or regulation to some extent, recognizing the problems with free right of expression and my previously expressed views that I don't believe I should be telling other people what they have to listen to. But I really believe that the suggestion made by the original panel was some kind of an arrangement for voluntarily policing this in the music industry as the correct way to go.
So, if it'll help you out in your testimony, I might join Senator Hollings and, or others in some kind of legislation and/or regulation, unless the free enterprise system, both the producers and you as the performers, see fit to clean up your act.
OK, thank you.
OK. That's hardly voluntary.
The first thing I would like to do, because I know there is some foreign press involved here and they might not understand what the issue is about, one of the things the issue is about is the First Amendment to the Constitution, and it is short and I would like to read it so they will understand. It says:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
That's for reference.
These are my personal observations and opinions. I speak on behalf of no group or professional organization.
The PMRC proposal is an ill-conceived piece of nonsense which fails to deliver any real benefits to children, infringes the civil liberties of people who are not children, and promises to keep the courts busy for years dealing with the interpretational and enforcemental problems inherent in the proposal's design.
It's my understanding that in law First Amendment issues are decided with a preference for the least restrictive alternative. In this context, the PMRC demands are the equivalent of treating dandruff by decapitation.
No one has forced Mrs. Baker or Mrs. Gore to bring Prince or Sheena Easton into their homes. Thanks to the Constitution, they are free to buy other forms of music for their children. Apparently, they insist on purchasing the works of contemporary recording artists in order to support a personal illusion of aerobic sophistication. Ladies, please be advised: The $8.98 purchase price does not entitle you to a kiss on the foot from the composer or performer in exchange for a spin on the family Victrola.
Taken as a whole, the complete list of PMRC demands reads like an instruction manual for some sinister kind of toilet training program to house-break all composers and performers because of the lyrics of a few. Ladies, how dare you?
The ladies' shame must be shared by the bosses at the major labels who, through the RIAA, chose to bargain away the rights of composers, performers, and retailers in order to pass H.R. 2911, The Blank Tape Tax, a private tax levied by an industry on consumers for the benefit of a select group within that industry.
Is this a consumer issue? You bet it is. The major record labels need to have H.R. 2911 whiz through a few committees before anybody smells a rat. One of them is chaired by Senator Thurmond. Is it a coincidence that Mrs. Thurmond is affiliated with the PMRC?
I can't say she's a member, because the PMRC has no members. Their secretary told me on the phone last Friday that the PMRC has no members, only founders. I asked how many other D.C. wives are nonmembers of an organization that raises money by mail, has a tax-exempt status, and seems intent on running the Constitution of the United States through the family paper-shredder. I asked her if it was a cult. Finally, she said she couldn't give me an answer and that she had to call their lawyer.
While the wife of the Secretary of the Treasury recites, "Gonna drive my love inside you" and Senator Gore's wife talks about "bondage" and "oral sex at gunpoint" on the CBS Evening News, people in high places work on a tax bill that is so ridiculous, the only way to sneak it through is to keep the public's mind on something else: Porn Rock.
Is the basic issue morality? Is it mental health? Is it an issue at all? The PMRC has created a lot of confusion with improper comparisons between song lyrics, videos, record packaging, radio broadcasting, and live performances. These are all different mediums and the people who work in them have the right to conduct their business without trade-restraining legislation, whipped up like an instant pudding by "The wives of Big Brother."
Is it proper that the husband of a PMRC nonmember/founder/person sits on any committee considering business pertaining to the blank tape tax or his wife's lobbying organization? Can any committee thus constituted find facts in a fair and unbiased manner? This committee has three that we know about: Senator Danforth, Senator Packwood, and Senator Gore. For some reason, they seem to feel there is no conflict of interest involved.
Children in the vulnerable age bracket have a natural love for music. If as a parent you believe they should be exposed to something more uplifting than "Sugar Walls," support music appreciation programs in schools. Why haven't you considered your child's need for consumer information? Music appreciation costs very little compared to sports expenditures. Your children have a right to know that something besides pop music exists.
lt is unfortunate that the PMRC would rather dispense governmentally sanitized heavy metal music than something more uplifting. Is this an indication of PMRC's personal taste or just another manifestation of the low priority this administration has placed on education for the arts in America?
The answer, of course, is neither. You can't distract people from thinking about an unfair tax by talking about music appreciation. For that you need sex, and lots of it.
The establishment of a rating system, voluntary or otherwise, opens the door to an endless parade of moral quality control programs based on things certain Christians don't like. What if the next bunch of Washington wives demands a large yellow "J" on all material written or performed by Jews, in order to save helpless children from exposure to concealed Zionist doctrine?
Record ratings are frequently compared to film ratings. Apart from the quantitative difference, there is another that is more important: People who act in films are hired to pretend. No matter how the film is rated, it won't hurt them personally.
Since many musicians write and perform their own material and stand by it as their art, whether you like it or not, an imposed rating will stigmatize them as individuals. How long before composers and performers are told to wear a festive little PMRC arm band with their scarlet letter on it?
Bad facts make bad law, and people who write bad laws are in my opinion more dangerous than songwriters who celebrate sexuality. Freedom of speech, freedom of religious thought, and the right to due process for composers, performers and retailers are imperiled if the PMRC and the major labels consummate this nasty bargain.
Are we expected to give up article 1 so the big guys can collect an extra dollar on every blank tape and 10 to 25 percent on tape recorders? What is going on here? Do we get to vote on this tax?
I think that this whole matter has gotten completely blown out of proportion, and I agree with Senator Exon that there is a very dubious reason for having this event. And I also agree with Senator Exon that you shouldn't be wasting time on stuff like this, because from the beginning I have sensed that it is somebody's hobby project.
Now, I've done a number of interviews on television and people keep saying, "Can't you take a few steps in their direction, can't you sympathize, can't you empathize?" I do more than that at this point. I've got an idea for a way to stop all this stuff and a way to give parents what they really want, which is information, accurate information as to what is inside the album, without providing a stigma for the musicians who have played on the album or the people who sing it or the people who wrote it. And I think that if you listen carefully to this idea that it might just get by all of the constitutional problems and everything else. As far as I am concerned.
I have no objection to having all of the lyrics placed on the album routinely, all the time. But there is a little problem. Record companies do not own the right automatically to take these lyrics, because they're owned by publishing companies.
So, just as all the rest of the PMRC proposals would cost money, this would cost money too, because the record companies would need—they shouldn't be forced to bear the cost, the extra expenditure to the publisher, to print those lyrics.
If you consider that the public needs to be warned about the contents of the records, what better way than to let them see exactly what the songs say? That way you don't have to put any kind of subjective rating on the record. You don't have to call it R, X, D/A, anything. You can read it for yourself.
But in order for it to work properly, the lyrics should be on a uniform kind of a sheet. Maybe even the Government could print those sheets. Maybe it should even be paid for by the Government, if the Government is interested in making sure that people have consumer information in this regard.
And you also have to realize that if a person buys the record and takes it out of the store, once it is out of the store you can't return it if you read the lyrics at home and decide that little Johnny is not supposed to have it.
I think that that should at least be considered, and the idea of imposing these ratings on live concerts, on the albums, asking record companies to reevaluate or drop or violate contracts that they already have with artists should be thrown out.
That's it all. That's what I have to say.
Thank you very much, Mr. Zappa. You understand that the previous witnesses were not asking for legislation. And I don't know, I can't speak for Senator Hollings, but I think the prevailing view here is that nobody is asking for legislation.
The question is just focusing on what a lot of people perceive to be a problem, and you have indicated that you at least understand that there is another point of view.
Yeah, I do understand . . .
But there are people that think that parents should have some knowledge of what goes into their home.
All along my objection has been with the tactics used by these people in order to achieve the goal. I just think the tactics have been really bad, and the whole premise of their proposal—they were badly advised in terms of record business law, they were badly advised in terms of practicality, or they would have known that certain things don't work mechanically with what they suggest.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I found your statement very interesting and, let me say although I disagree with some of the statements that you make and have made on other occasions, I have been a fan of your music, believe it or not, and I respect you as a true original and a tremendously talented musician.
Your suggestion on printing the lyrics on the album is a very interesting one. Because the PMRC at one point said they would propose either a rating or warning, or printing all the lyrics on the album. The record companies came back and said that they didn't want to do that.
But I think an awful lot of people agree with your suggestion that one easy way to solve this problem for parents would be to put the actual words there, so that parents could see them. In fact, the National Association of Broadcasters made exactly the same request of the record companies.
So I think your suggestion is an intriguing one and might really be a solution for the problem.
But the problem— Well, you just have to understand that it does cost money, because you can't expect publishers to automatically give up that right, which is a money earning right for them. Somebody is going to have to reimburse the publishers, the record industry is going to— Without trying to mess up the album jacket art, and impose that lyrics only be printed on the back, it should be a sheet of paper that is slipped inside the shrink-wrap, that when you take it out you can still have a complete album package. So there is going to be some extra cost for printing it.
But as long as people realize that for this kind of consumer safety you're gonna spend some money and as long as you can find a way to pay for it, I think that would be the best way to let people know.
I do not disagree with that at all. And the separate sheet would also solve the problem with the cassettes as well, because you do not have the space for words on the cassette packs.
Well, there would have to be a little accordion-fold in there.
Yeah. Something like that. And— Or just fold it. But, but a very large percentage of the albums that are sold are sold in cassette form.
I've listened to you a number of times on this issue, and I guess the question that I really want to get from you is, or the statement that I want to get from you is whether or not you feel that the concern is legitimate.
Because, occasionally you feel very strongly about your position, and I understand that. Very articulate and forceful.
But occasionally you give the impression that you think parents are just silly to be concerned at all.
That's not an accurate impression.
Well, please clarify it, then.
First of all, I think it is the parents' concern; it is not the Government's concern.
And they agree with you on that.
Well, that doesn't come across in the way they have been speaking. The whole drift that I have gotten, based upon the media blitz that has attended the PMRC and its rise to infamy, is that they have a special plan, and it has smelled like legislation up until now.
There are too many things that look like hidden agendas involved with this. And I am a parent. I have got four children. Two of them are here. I want them to grow up in a country where they can think what they want to think, be what they want to be, and not what somebody's wife or somebody in Government makes them be.
I don't wanna have that and I don't think you do either.
OK. But now you're back on the, you're back on the other issue. Let me just say briefly on that that they say repeatedly no legislation, no regulation, no Government action. It certainly sounded pretty clear to me.
And as far as a hidden agenda, you know, I don't see one, hear one, or know of one.
OK, let me tell you why I have drawn these conclusions. First of all, they may say, "We are not interested in legislation." But there are others who do, and because of their project bad things have happened in this country in the industry.
I believe there is actually some liability. Look at this. You have a situation where, even if you go for the lyric printed thing in the record, because of the tendency among Americans to be copycats—one guy commits a murder, you get a copycat murder—now you've got copycat censors.
You get a very bad situation in San Antonio, Texas, right now where they are trying to pass PMRC-type individual ratings and attach them to live concerts, with the mayor down there trying to make a national reputation by putting San Antonio on the map as the first city in the United States to have these regulations, against the suggestion of the city attorney, who says, "I don't think this is constitutional."
But you know, there is this fervor to get in and do even more, even more.
And the other thing, the PMRC starts off talking about lyrics, but when they take it over into other realms they start talking about the videos. In fact, you misspoke yourself at the beginning in your introduction when you were talking about the music does this, the music does that. There is a distinct difference between those notes and chords and the basseline and the rhythm that support the words and the lyrics.
I do not know whether you really are talking about controlling the type of music that gets heard.
So specifically we're talking about lyrics. It began with lyrics. But even looking at the PMRC fundraising letter, in the last paragraph at the bottom of the page it starts looking like it is branching into other areas, when it says: "We realize that this material has pervaded other aspects of society." And it is like what, you are going to fix it all for me?
No, I think what they're— I mean, I think they're acknowledging some of the statements by some of their critics who say: "Well, why single out the music industry."
But if I can have just a— have a minute more, Mr. Chairman . . . Before we got back into that, you were saying, yes, you do believe that there is a legitimate concern.
But the legitimate concern is a matter of taste for the individual parent and how much sexual information that parent wants to give their child, at what age, at what time, in what quantity, OK. And I think that, because there is a tendency in the United States to hide sex, which I think is an unhealthy thing to do, and many parents do not give their children good sexual education, in spite of the fact that little books for kids are available, and other parents demand that sexual education be taken out of school, it makes the child vulnerable, because if you don't have something rational to compare it to when you see or hear about something that is aberrated you do not perceive it as an aberration. OK?
OK, I've run out of time. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Zappa, I am astounded at the courtesy and soft-voiced nature of the comments of my friend, the Senator from Tennessee. I can only say that I found your statement to be boorish, incredibly and insensitively insulting to the people that were here previously; that you could manage to give the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States a bad name, if I felt that you had the slightest understanding of it, which I do not.
You do not have the slightest understanding of the difference between Government action and private action, and you have certainly destroyed any case you might otherwise have had with this Senator.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Is this private action?
Mr. Chairman, thank you very much.
Mr. Zappa, let me say that I was surprised that Senator Gore knew and liked your music. I must confess that I have never heard any of your music, to my knowledge.
I would be more than happy to recite my lyrics to you.
Can we forgo that?
You, you've probably never heard of the Mothers Of Invention.
I have heard of Glenn Miller and Mitch Miller. Did you ever perform with them?
As a matter of fact, I took music lessons in grade school from Mitch Miller's brother.
That's the first sign of hope we have had in this hearing.
Let us try and get down to a fundamental question here that I would like to ask you, Mr. Zappa. Do you believe that parents have the right and the obligation to mold the psychological development of their children?
Yeah, I think they have that right, and I also think they have that obligation.
Do you see any extreme difficulty in carrying out those obligations for a parent by material falling into the hands of their children over which they have little or no control?
Well, one of the things that has been brought up before is talking about very young children getting access to the material that they have been showing here today. And what I have said to that in the past is a teenager may go into a record store unescorted with $8.98 in his pocket, but very young children do not.
If they go into a record store, the $8.98 is in mom's pocket or dad's pocket, and they can always say, "Johnny, buy a book." They can say, "Johnny, buy instrumental music; there's some nice classical music here for you; why don't you listen to that."
The parent can ask or guide the child in another direction, away from Sheena Easton, Prince, or whoever else you have been complaining about. There is always that possibility.
As I understand it from your testimony—and once again, I want to emphasize that I see nothing wrong whatsoever; in fact, I salute the ladies for bringing this to the attention of the public as best they see fit. And I think you could tell from my testimony that I tend to agree with them.
But I want to be very careful that we do not overstep our bounds and try and—I emphasize once again—tell somebody else what they should see. So I am primarily worried about children.
It seems to me from your statement that you have no obligation—or no objection whatsoever to printing lyrics, if that would be legally possible, or from a standpoint of having the room to do that, on records or tapes. Is that not what you said?
I think it would be advisable for two reasons. One, it gives people one of the things that they've been asking for. It gives them that type of consumer protection because, if you can read the English language and you can see the lyrics on the back, you have no excuse for complaning if you take the record out of the store.
And also, I think that the record industry has been damaged and it has been given a very bad rap by this whole situation because it's been indicated, or people have attempted to indicate, that there is so much of this kind of material that people object to in the industry, that that is what the industry is.
It is not bad at all. Some of the albums that have been selected for abuse here are obscure. Some of them are already several years old. And I think that a lot of deep digging was done in order to come up with the song about the anal vapors or whatever it was that they were talking about before.
If I understand you, you would be in support of printing the lyrics, but you are adamantly opposed to any kind of a rating system? Is that correct?
I'm opposed to the rating system because, as I said, if you put a rating on the record it goes directly to the character of the person who made the record, whereas if you rate a film, a guy who is in the film has been hired as an actor. He is pretending. You rate the film, whatever it is, it doesn't hurt him.
But whether you like what is on the record or not, the guy who made it, that's his art and to stigmatize him is not fair.
Well, likewise, if you are primarily concerned about the artists, is it not true that for many many years, we have had ratings of movies with indications as to the sexual content of movies and that has been, as near as I can tell, a voluntary action on the part of the actors in the movies and the producers of the movies and the distributors?
That seems to have worked reasonably well. What is wrong with that?
Well, first of all, it replaced something that was far more restrictive, which was the Hays Office. And as far as that being voluntary, there are people who wish they did not have to rate their films. They still object to rating their films, but the reason the ratings go on is because if they are not rated they won't get distributed or shown in theaters. So there is a little bit of pressure involved. But still there is no stigma on the person—
The Government does not require that. The point I am trying to make is—and while I think these hearings should not have been held if we are not considering legislation or regulations at this time, I emphasized earlier that they might follow.
I simply want to say to you that I suspect that, unless the industry "cleans up their act"—and I use that in quote words again—there is likely to be legislation. And it seems to me that it would not be too far removed from reality or too offensive to anyone if you could follow the general guidelines, right, wrong, or indifferent, that are now in place with regard to the movie industry.
Well, I would object to that. I think first of all, I believe it was you who asked the question of Mrs. Gore whether there was any other indication on the album as to the contents. And I would say that a buzzsaw blade between a guy's legs on the album cover is a good indication that it is not for little Johnny.
I don't believe I entered that question, but the point that you made is a good one, because if that should not go to little minds I think there should be at least some minimal activity or attempt on the part of the producers and distributors, and indeed possibly the performers, to see that that does not get to that little mind.
Mr. Chairman, thank you very much.
Mr. Zappa, I apologize for coming back in late, but I am just hearing the latter part of it. I hear that you say that perhaps we could print the words, and I think that is a good suggestion, but it is unfair to have it rated.
Now, it is not considered unfair in the movie industry, and I want you to elaborate. I don't want to belabor you, but why is it unfair? I mean, it's accurate, isn't it? I mean . . .
Well, I don't know whether it is accurate, because they sometimes have trouble deciding how a film gets to be an X or an R or whatever. And you have two problems. One is the quantity of material, 325 films per year versus 25,000 4-minute songs per year, OK.
You also have a problem that an album is a compilation of different types of cuts. If one song on the album is sexually explicit and all the rest of it sounds like Pat Boone, what do you get on the album? How are you going to rate it?
There are little technical difficulties here, and also you have the problem of having somebody in the position of deciding what's good, what's bad, what's talking about the devil, what is too violent, and you know, and the rest of that stuff.
But the point that I made before is that when you rate the album you are rating the individual, because he takes personal responsibility for the music; and in the movies, the actors who are performing in the movie, it doesn't hurt them.
Well, very good. I think the actual printing of the content itself is perhaps even better than the rating. Let everyone else decide.
I think you should leave it up to the parents, because not all parents want to keep their children totally ignorant.
Well, what— Yeah, you and I would differ on what is ignorance and educated, I can see that. But . . .
No, I happen to think that you are very educated.
I can't complain if it was there, they could see what they were buying and I think that would be a step in the right direction.
But as Senator Exon has pointed out, whereby the primary movers in this particular regard are not looking for legislation or regulations, that's our function. And to be perfectly candid with you, I would look for regulations or some kind of legislation, if it could be constitutionally accomplished, unless of course we have these initiatives from the industry itself.
I think your suggestion is a good one. If you print those words, that would go a long way toward satisfying everyone's objections.
All we have to do is find out how it is going to be paid for.
Good enough. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
You say you have four children?
Pardon me . . .
Have you ever purchased toys for those children?
No; my wife does.
Well, I might tell you that if you were to go in a toy store—which is very educational for fathers, by the way; it is not a maternal responsibility to buy toys for children—that you may look on the box and the box says, this is suitable for 5 to 7 years of age, or 8 to 15, or 15 and above, to give you some guidance for a toy for a child.
Do you object to that?
In a way I do, because that means that somebody in an office someplace is making a decision about how smart my child is.
I'd be interested to see what toys your kids ever had.
Why would you be interested?
Just as a point of interest in this . . .
Well, come on over to the house. I'll show 'em to you.
I might do that.
Have you ever made— Do you make a profit from sales of rock records?
So you do make a profit from the sales of rock records?
Thank you. I think that statement tells the story to this committee. Thank you.
Mr. Zappa, thank you very much for your testimony.
Next witness is John Denver.
We haven't got 'em whipped on this one yet. You got a bear by the tail here, uh? Jeezis!
Maryland State Legislature
March 18, 1986
Thank you, Chairman Miller, members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. My name is Bruce Bereano. I'm an attorney here in Annapolis, Maryland. I am here on behalf of the Recording Industry Association of America, which is a trade association out of New York City, which hired me to represent their interests after this bill passed the House of Delegates to seek the defeat of this legislation. RIAA is a trade association of the manufacturers of records and tapes in the United States. With me, at my invitation, as my guest, is Mr. Frank Zappa, born and raised here in the state of Maryland, a recording musician, songwriter, and entertainer for some thirty-odd years. I'd like to make a few remarks before I turn the microphone over to Mr. Zappa.
This legislation, like other legislation unfortunately considered in legislatures throughout the state and other states, deals with trying to have government intervene in the development, the establishment, and the dealing with matters that should be and should remain within the responsibility, the commitment, and the obligation of the family structure.
I will not spend a great deal of time going over lyrics that I could cite as well. Let me just indicate one though:
Love for sale
Appetizing young love for sale
Who's prepared to pay the price
For a trip to paradise
Love for sale
—Cole Porter, 1930.
I'd like to ask Mr. Frank Zappa to please comment on this legislation. Mr. Zappa.
Thank you. First of all I wanna make it very clear I do not represent the RIAA, nor would they wish me to.
These are my personal views, these are opinions. I'm not a lawyer. I'm a guy with a high school education. I did not go to high school in Maryland. I escaped. And, uh . . . This is working here? Hello. Which one's working? None?
This is censorship.
Alright, I'll have to talk louder. Uh, I oppose this bill bec—, for a number of reasons. Uh, first of all, there's no need for it. The idea that the lyrics to a song are going to cause anti-social behavior, as an exclusive cause of anti-social behavior, I think is not supportable by science, in spite of the fact that a psychiatrist just sat here and told you—and I don't where he gets this, that this exposure to this type of material will keep young people from thinking or impair their thinking process. It's a fascinating theory.
In looking at the bill, in spite of the fact that I'm not a lawyer, I see some unusual—
You guys read this? Or did you read the synopsis?
In the part where it talks about uh, the . . . it says, "In this section the following words have the meanings indicated," the, the bill seeks to uh, keep you from seeing, renting, buying or listening to material described as "depicting illicit sex." And the description of what "illicit sex" as per this bill, here's the descriptions: "Human genitals in a state of sexual stimulation or arousal." Is that illicit sex? Perhaps in Maryland!
"Acts of human masturbation," not animal masturbation, this is talking 'bout human masturbation, you can't see that but any other kind I suppose you could see. Mechanical masturbation, perhaps. Or acts of government.
"Sexual intercourse or sodomy." Why, why do they indicate that sexual intercourse is illicit sex and put it next to sodomy in the same line? The next line: "Fondling or other erotic touching of human genitals." That is illicit in the State of Maryland according to the law as already written?
Next. "Distributing includes renting."
And then, "3. Nude or partially denuded figures means less than completely and opaquely covered human genitals, pubic region, buttocks, or female breast below a point immediately above the top of the areola."
Now, I like nipples, I think they look good and that . . . and if you are going to look at a woman's breast, if you take the nipple off, which is the characterising determining factor, what you got is a blob of fat there. Okay? And I think that when you're a baby, probably one of the first things that you get interested in is that nozzle right there, and you get to have it right up in front of your face, okay? You grow up with it so to speak, and then you grow up to live in the State of Maryland and they won't let you see the little brown thing anymore.
Then it says, "Human male genitals in a discernibly turgid state, even if completely and opaquely covered." Now, I thought 'turgid' was like, you know, water swirling around in a, you know, like maybe a Bendix, or something like that—I don't know whether that's really the right word for describing the male genital. Now is this talking about, you can't sing about or look at human male genitals with water swirling about them?
"Even if completely and opaquely covered."
I think you have problems in the law as it already exists, let alone amending it to include audio references to the things that are already in this document. Then, because it talks about not being able to advertise matter containing these objectionable topics, it opens up the possibility for this: a person wearing a Mötley Crüe T-shirt, if Mötley Crüe was adjudged, by whatever forum is gonna make these decisions, to be a pornographic act, if the person is wearing the T-shirt, theoretically he could be fined a thousand dollars or go to jail for a year for his wardrobe. And if he wore it twice, it's "Five thousand dollars or imprisonment not to exceed three years or both unless otherwise provided."
Some people, when they start talking about pornography, and saving the children, and the rest of this stuff, in the desire to help a child, sometimes choose some strange ways to express it, and, what I know about this bill basically is what I see on this paper and things that I've read in clippings sent to me from Baltimore papers. And some of the statements made in support of the bill, for example uh, I hope I'm not in—, incorrectly quoting you, Delegate Toth, in the reference to uh, rock music being "the major cause of incest in the home," did you say that?
There, I'm sorry if I'm misquoting you, somebody reported to me that you had said that, and I've, you know, been baffled by it ever since. But, if you had said it . . . you know, well I won't even bother to answer it since you didn't say it, but is it true that someone has said, I believe it was uh, Delegate Owens, that rock music is "the worst form of child abuse, big mass child abuse"?
Then somebody in the newspaper is quoting him wrong, because that's from the Maryland papers. OK?
Thomas V. "Mike" Miller, Chairman:
Is Mr. Zappa testifying or is he cross-examining the sponsor of the bill?
Well, if I'm— Are you accusing me of—
Could he keep his testimony to testimony? I would appreciate that.
OK. Thank you.
Well, see, I haven't— I don't do this very often so I don't know the protocol but I thought it would be fair to ask before I accused somebody of saying something they hadn't said, so, if he wants me to just blab it out, I'll do it.
We appreciate [...] Please proceed.
To say that rock music is the worst form of child abuse, and that it's mass child abuse, I would call that sky-high rhetoric.
Because if you ever seen photographs, which I have on CNN or other news shows that show stories about abused children with bruises over their body or they're cut or, you know, they've really been badly injured. That's an abused child.
There is a difference between that photograph and a photograph of a kid with some earphones on listening to a heavy metal album. I don't equate the two at all.
It is my personal feeling that lyrics uh, will not harm you. There is no sound that you can make with your mouth, or word that will come out of your mouth, that is so powerful that it'll make you go to Hell. It's not gonna do it. It's also not gonna turn you into a social liability.
Disturbed people can be set off on a disturbed course of action by any kind of stimulus.
If they are prone to being anti-social, or schizophrenic or whatever, they can be set off by anything, including my tie, or your hair, or that chair over there, or anything.
Anything can set it off. You can't point to statistics of people uh, doing strange things in the vicinity of rock music, because all you gotta do is look around at all the normal kids who listen to it, and live with it every day, who do not commit suicide, they don't commit murder, and they grow up to be, in some cases, legislators.
So, I would hope that the State of Maryland would send a message to the other states that are considering this type of legislation. I would hope you would kill it here so that the other states will not continue with this kind of foolish stuff. Because you know it feels like a fad or a trend and it's something that should stop here and I hope we can stop it here.
includes a fragment of Secular Humanism
Well, uh, my opinion is that it's probably the worst thing that has happened to songwriters, to performers and to retailers since uh, since the Constitution. Because what happened here is— And, I really feel sorry for Stan Gortikov because he's in a difficult position. He said what he said and did what he did because record industry label heads said, "Stan, do this." Okay? I believe that, I don't think this was Stan's idea. But, what has been done is a bad thing.
The record industry has a bill called "H. R. 2911"—I don't know what the number is for the one that goes in the other part of Congress but the House Resolution is called "2911." And what it's supposed to do is put a surcharge on blank tape to compensate record companies for the income lost when record buyers tape the record or somebody tapes a television show. And that money goes into the pocket of the record company, not into the artist's pocket, not into the per— songwriter's pocket, not into the retailer's pocket. This is money for the record company.
In order to ensure that their bill would not die in the Thurmond committee, which is where it has to go through, they caved in to the first of the PMRC's demands, and gave them this stickering business. But the rights that they gave away at that point did not belong to them. They gave away the rights of the performer, the songwriter and the retailer, in order to put money in their pocket. Now there's something legally wrong with that, I think.
And the other thing that's hideous about what's going on is there's such a conflict of interest because the wives of these senators have used governmental facilities and governmental privileges in order to put their pet project forward. And the fact-finding committee that is convening on the 19th to discuss all this stuff has husbands of members of the PMRC on it, and I think that in fairness these husbands—Senator Packwood and Senator Gore—should both excuse themselves from the committee, they shouldn't be sitting in judgement on their wives' business.
And I don't think that anybody has ever provided the public with a complete list of who in the Congress is married to PMRC people. I have their letterhead, I have their fund-raising letter, which is really a nasty piece of business, and there's only four names on the letterhead, but Mrs. Packwood isn't on the letterhead, so you wouldn't know unless you'd read that in the Los Angeles Times. And you wouldn't know that Mrs. Thurmond was on there unless Stan Gortikov had told you. Okay? But there are probably other ones in Congress who are married to PMRC creatures, and they should not be sitting on any kind of a committee that deals with record company business or deals with this issue. It's not fair.
Well, it's as simple as this: the PMRC goes to the record industry and extorts them, ok? You have a bill that's got to go to Thurmond's committee—you either do this or something bad is gonna happen. You know, it wasn't printed out like that on an invitation, but you know they do give you the "nudge, nudge, wink, wink," and, you know, you're supposed to be, "Hey, well, I'm a sophisticated adult individual, I get the picture." It's extortion!
All right, so, presto, here comes the generic label (BORN AGAIN) "Parental Guidance/Explicit Lyrics," whatever it is. They think it's mild. I think it's hideous, because it's taking my rights. Nobody called me up and said, "Hey, Frank, how would you like to help make a number of major record companies a little richer by giving up your rights?" And here's what the fallout of this has been in terms of the retailer, because, you know, who's talking about the retailer here? Look what happened to the retailer.
In a discussion with Mark Puma, Twisted Sister's manager—so I've talked to him and he tells me that he had a conversation with the guy from the Camelot chain—Camelot is a retail outlet for records, 400 stores, something like that, in malls across the United States. With no legislation, with no sticker yet, they have already been told by the mall owners association, "If you rack a hard rated album you're gonna lose your lease." Okay?
And at the California Copyright Conference the other night, when I was speaking, I met a guy from Capitol. He told me that people in his sales department had already been told by major retail chains, "We won't rack an album with any sticker on it."
So, what do you think is gonna happen? Just because they gave in on the sticker. What records will go into the store? I'll tell you what records will go into the store. If the rule is, "No record with any sticker in the store," there is only one kind that gets to go in, and that's country & western. Because they have said they don't want to rate country & western music. Even though it talks about sex, violence, alcohol, the Devil, everything they complain about in rock 'n roll. And mixed in such a way that you can hear every word and sung to you by people who've been to prison and are proud of it. Okay?
They don't want to rate this music. Now, why? You have a husband and wife team from Tennessee. This is a major industry in Tennessee. It's the Nashville contribution. Can you help us all out down here? If everybody else's record goes off the shelf, what are you stickin' on? A lot of Dolly Parton, right? There it goes!
It's always been a business issue. The whole thing has been covered with the, uh— It's been injected with this moral tone, "Save the children!" From what? From sex? From violence? Look, a parent has the responsibility to educate their children about sex. You don't want your child to know about sex, I think you're taking a risk, because how can you expect a child to under— to protect itself or to understand the dangers of a weenie-wagger, unless he knows what a weenie is? You know, you can't keep them sexually ignorant, it's dangerous for them. You want to protect your children from violence? Don't let 'em watch football.
You know, what they're talking about is really useless. And in law, I understand—although I only have a high school education—but somebody told me one time, that in matters pertaining to the First Amendment, you are supposed to look for the least restrictive alternative. And the least restrictive alternative in this case is, don't buy "Sugar Walls." Nobody is making you buy it. You don't need to buy "Eat Me Alive."
Rock 'n roll music was never written or performed or designed for the taste of a conservative individual. (WE ARE THE CHILDREN) Why should a group of conservative individuals (WE ARE THE WORLD) exert their taste and their morals on people who want it? If this music offends you, don't buy it. That's the best way to vote against it. If you think that your taste and your feeling about this thing is so exactly right, just walk away from it. Or—And/or support music education in school. Music appreciation in school.
Because how can a kid buy something else unless he knows that it exists? Most American kids in the younger age bracket have never heard a symphony orchestra, never heard jazz, have never heard any kind of music other than rock 'n roll. That's all they see and that's all they hear because that's all that gets broadcast. And music education was taken out of schools because of budget cuts. Who needs it? All right? So stick it back in, that's what the PTA oughta be doing.
And as far as the rest of the stuff, trying to pass all these minute little legislations of different ratings, you know, a generic warning, if you had to warn anybody, you should say, "Buyer beware! This music was not made for conservative tastes. So just go do something else. Or buy instrumental music."
includes a fragment of Secular Humanism
There are artists who do not write their own material. We know this, right? So that means there is a whole community of songwriters who write songs so that hopefully it's going to go on the next, uh, Linda Ronstadt album or Sheena Easton album or whatever. They're waiting to get their songs sold and that song is gonna pay their rent. Okay?
Now, let's say they get a song on that album and the artist in his or her desire to be versatile chooses a selection of material from all over the musical spectrum, including something written for him or her by Prince. One song that offends somebody under this rating system is going to get an "X" on the entire album and everybody else that's in there loses money. Okay? That's not fair. That is— You're losing your right to due process there.
The other real danger about all this is the "occult" rating. They're insisting on individual special ratings for different types of things. Instead of "Buyer beware" they wanna tell you the record has sex, it has drugs and alcohol, it has violence, it has occult. Are they trying to tell me that a parent might let the child buy something with uh, occult, drugs, alcohol and violence, but not with sex? I mean, obviously, it's redundant, you know? Why?
Here's the secret agenda. If something in law—If something goes into law that makes "occult" a legal concept, you got a big danger, because somebody in Washington is gonna wake up one day and say, "You know what? Astrology is occult." And they're gonna say, "Yoga is occult." And they're gonna say, "The rosary is pretty suspicious too. And how about that kabala, ladies and gentlemen?" And before you know it you're in big trouble. That is the danger with that particular part of their ratings.
Well, I'll give you the best example of why such a panel is a pure fiction and a pure fantasy. You ever heard of the Grammys? Do you know anything about NARAS? Have you ever heard of the NARAS credo? That's that little— I saw one one time. The one that I saw was written by Stan Freberg. Okay? We were the entertainment at the Grammys in 1967 or '68 in New York. I saw this piece of paper and it said in part that, "These selections are made on artistic merit alone and have nothing to do with unit sales." Right? Sure.
NARAS does not listen to 25,000 individual 4 minute songs every year in order to pick somebody who gets a Grammy. It's obviously fake, okay? Now, how do they expect that somebody is going to, in good conscience, listen to that volume of music. Now, you can't listen just once (YEAH!), you have to listen carefully to make sure you haven't missed anything. You know, it's gonna take more than 4 minutes a song to do this, to listen to the entire output of the United States record business per year (YEAH!). This is a joke. Who's gonna pay for this?
Obviously the PMRC answer would be, "There are plenty of volunteers in Lynchburg, Virginia. They'll sit there and listen to it all day and all night. In fact, they've already got the little Xs made up, they're ready to pump 'em out." Because, as you know, the major industry in Lynchburg right now is not the Moral Majority. It's the Fleet Enema Corporation, and you need to have some other kind of business there to boost the local GNP. That's true! That's the biggest employer in Lynchburg (RRAWRRR).
Well, I think that there's a reason why the Fleet Enema Company located its factory right next to Falwell's church (RAWRRRR). Or maybe it's vice versa: maybe there's a reason why Jerry located his church right next to the Fleet Enema Corporation. Maybe there's a fund raising balance between them. Maybe they have something that those— They each have something that the other needs for their work.
You always see the future by looking backwards, okay? Let's look backwards (ROCK 'N ROLL!). 1950. Rock 'n roll was born. It's an awkward youth with a sense of humor, a lot of raw emotion and a terrible reputation because it's a juvenile delinquent.
Ten years later it grows a conscience, and it's getting the bad rap because, "Hey, look what you're doing with the war, you mongoloids with the long hair and all this stuff, you know."
In the 70s it goes suburban, corporate rock comes in. It blands out. The 80s arrive. Everybody bends over, you know? Falwell pulls a string, the enema comes out, the entire industry goes, "Hey! Thanks a lot! We needed that!" Okay?
Broadcasters have bent over, the record companies bent over, the songwriters either out of ignorance—they weren't informed of what was happening or they just wanted to keep their mouth shut to protect their interest. Nobody said anything.
And meanwhile these women with the collars up to here who sit there like that, and with husbands in high places, are going around doing the most outrageous things with your rights. You know, they chose the record industry because it's very easy to make fun of people who look and act different than you.
They love it that somebody from Mötley Crüe has got hair out like this and make-up and this stuff, you know, and they show pictures and, "Look at this! Do you want your child to . . . ?", you know. That. They've been doing that since the beginning—They did it with Elvis Presley. You know before that they did it with the fact that a lot of the performers were black. "Do you want your children listening to music by negroes?"
You know it took years before they could even get that kind of music on white people's radio stations. And then white people suddenly say, "Hey, big money here." Boom. Rock 'n roll.
But, what they're doing now is very— it's critical at this point now because unless somebody stands up and says, "This has gotta stop now," the 90s are not going to be bent over, they're gonna be lying down. They're either gonna be lying down or they're gonna be walking like this, just like the people in Red China.
includes a fragment of Feeding The Monkies At Ma Maison
Look, nobody in his right mind believes for a minute that an artist makes more money than the record company. It's just not stacked up that way. If Michael Jackson sells 30 million units and makes an enormous amount of money, the record company's made ten, maybe twenty times more. The artist doesn't make more money than the company. He's getting a corner of the action. The money goes to the company. The company is the bank.
So any legislation that is involved in this is not sticking the money directly into the artist's pocket. If he winds up with a tidbit, it's gonna be amazing. And he's gonna have to struggle for it, because the companies themselves can't even agree on how the pool will be divided up between them.
I have a feeling that it's all bought and sold, because there's just too many people in government involved in it already (ED MEESE). And another reason why I feel that is because I've been booked for a debate with Mrs. Baker in Seattle on the 29th, so I don't think any of these people believe that the committee will say, "Hey, this is really stupid, let's stop." I don't think it's gonna happen. I think that there's a very good chance that it will move out of the committee into another committee and move toward legislation.
And at that point it is doubtful whether you or I will ever get a chance to vote on it.
includes a fragment of Secular Humanism
Well, to the record industry it means a little bit more hope for their bill—and I don't think that it's, it's not a sure thing that their bill will pass even because they bent over, because look at what the tactic was, they say, "Here's our demands." The record company says, "Well, I can't do 'em all. I'll do this one." They said, "Not good enough! So we're gonna have this hearing, and we're gonna need legislation to bring you all into line." Now, at this point, maybe, I hope that people realize that a mistake has been made.
The biggest mistake, though, is the first of these albums is already on the street. Polydor released a stickered album this week. Everybody's really anxious to bend over here. And the broadcasters have been totally fake about their responsibility in this thing. You know what they say? "We demand that the record companies put those lyrics on the record!" You know, it's like they've been tricked all along, "We never knew what Sheena Easton was saying!"
I mean, do they really think that anybody believes that a record comes in the mail to the radio station, it comes down a chute, and it's adjusted like this and just floats onto a turntable? You know, to the dismay of an unknowing disc jockey? You know, let's face it, people pay money to get things on the radio—It is not easy to get things on the radio. The playlist is very small.
Those records have been screened and screened and screened, and if they say something that you find offensive, it is a conscious decision on the part of the programmer at the station because he knows that if they play it the ratings are gonna go up and the value of that broadcast property is going to go up, and that's all the broadcasters care about. For them to pass the buck back to the record company and say, "You didn't warn us!", is totally bogus.
includes a fragment of Secular Humanism
Here's that thing about the FCC. Nobody really understands this basic premise of the FCC. It was designed to keep your transmitter from messing with the next guy's transmitter. It's not the governmental censorship agency. And no matter what Mr. Fowler's beliefs are about, uh, something must be done, does he in fact have legal power to do something about it? I think not. He's not a censor. The FCC was never chartered as a censorship organization. I've got the charter sitting upstairs, and I'm gonna read the damn thing top to bottom before I go to Washington, DC.
They— Everybody says, "Ooh! The FCC will get you!" What are they gonna do? They're gonna mess with your license. Well, that's economic extortion applied to the owner of the broadcast property. (BONDAGE) And a lot of these guys say, "I don't wanna go to court. Sure, take the record off the air, what's the difference?" I mean, you know, you're bending over!
All compositions by Frank Zappa except as noted