We'd stayed in approximately 200 motels, touring, up to the time the movie was made. I know, because I collect the keys.
United Artists gets the soundtrack album, and they said that no matter how much music there is in the film, they'll put it out, even if it's four records. They said that at the first meeting. The deal itself—the distribution splits, etc., is an excellent deal, at least 10% better than the average deal, which is a lot in the movie business. I couldn't believe it! It only took about two weeks.
Frank and Cal were putting the wraps on 200 Motels and were looking for an artist to help them, so we heard about it and met up at Murakami Wolf Swenson Films in Hollywood—just off Sunset Boulevard—and showed Cal my work.
They decided to try me and asked me to do a comp of a section of the cover that would feature Frank in a "pulp-style look", looming over the populace and "bingo", 200 Motels (editor's note—this comp would later be reworked to be used as the cover of the Zappa EP for Rhino titled Rare Meat, see image, below). Cal was a very calm character, a great artist for Frank, and I was honored to work with him, FZ and Murakami Wolf Swenson Films. Cal and I bumped into each other all of the time while he was doing animations and I was doing backgrounds.
technicians: Paul Hoff & Dave O'Neil
|Measures||Pinewood Studios, UK, January-February, 1971||Los Angeles, October 23, 2013 (Zappa Records, 2015)||Some recycled music|
|Frank Zappa's 200 Motels (1971) (2CD, Rykodisc, 1997)||Frank Zappa's 200 Motels (United Artists, 1971) (*)||Various|
|1.01. Semi-Fraudulent/Direct-From-Hollywood Overture||1.01. Overture|
|1-21||0:00-1:02||0:00:02-0:01:07||0:00-1:05||Holiday In Berlin (Theme A)|
|2. Went On The Road|
|1.11. Would You Like A Snack?||1.02. Went On The Road|
|1-29||0:00-1:23||0:00-1:12||Holiday In Berlin (Theme A)|
|1.13. Centerville||1.03. Centerville|
|4. This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich|
|1.04. This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich (Prologue)||1.04. This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich|
|1.05. Tuna Fish Promenade|
|1.06. Dance Of The Just Plain Folks|
|75-82||0:00-0:14||03:13-03:28||The Rejected Mexican Pope Leaves The Stage (AOTT) 0:04-0:16|
|95-102||0:47-1:06||03:57-04:14||The Rejected Mexican Pope Leaves The Stage (AOTT) 0:36-0:49 / Undaunted, The Band Plays On (AOTT) 0:04-0:18|
|145-147||2:36-2:42||05:38-05:44||The Rejected Mexican Pope Leaves The Stage (AOTT) 1:21-1:29 / Undaunted, The Band Plays On (AOTT) 0:48-0:57|
|156-157a||3:13-3:19||06:07-06:12||The Rejected Mexican Pope Leaves The Stage (AOTT) 1:29-1:33 / Undaunted, The Band Plays On (AOTT) 0:57-1:01|
|1.07. This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich (Reprise)|
|1.08. The Sealed Tuna Bolero|
|5. The Restaurant Scene|
|1.12. Redneck Eats||1.05. The Restaurant Scene|
|45-88||1:12-2:52||2:14-4:05||Like It Or Not (AOTT) 0:59-2:21|
|6. Touring Can Make You Crazy|
|1.10. Touring Can Make You Crazy||1.06. Touring Can Make You Crazy|
|7. What's The Name Of Your Group?|
|1.03. Dance Of The Rock & Roll Interviewers||1.07. What's The Name Of Your Group?|
|1-18||"What's The Name Of Your Group?" (RSD single, 2015) 0:00-0:40||00:00-00:49||Epilogue (AOTT) 0:00-0:34|
|22-45||"What's The Name Of Your Group?" (RSD single, 2015) 0:40-1:38||01:07-02:15||Epilogue (AOTT) 0:34-1:02|
|55-76||"What's The Name Of Your Group?" (RSD single, 2015) 1:38-2:59||02:59-04:25||Pound For A Brown|
|77-87a||Frank Zappa filmt 200 Motels (1971) 02:17-02:52||04:25-05:19|
|8. Can I Help You With This Dummy?|
|1.08. Can I Help You With This Dummy?|
|9. The Pleated Gazelle|
|1.09. The Pleated Gazelle|
|58-64||Frank Zappa filmt 200 Motels (1971) 09:26-09:39||03:34-03:49|
|2.10. Dew On The Newts We Got|
|2.11. The Lad Searches The Night For His Newts|
|2.09. Motorhead's Midnight Ranch|
|2.12. The Girl Wants To Fix Him Some Broth|
|2.13. The Girl's Dream|
|2.14. Little Green Scratchy Sweaters & Courduroy Ponce|
|2.07. A Nun Suit Painted On Some Old Boxes|
|346-353||19:33-19:51||[Bogus Pomp (1983) 21:45-22:39]|
|354||"Re-gyptian Strut" (Läther) 0:12-0:13||19:51-19:53|
|355||"Filthy Habits" (Läther) 6:02-6:03||19:53-19:57|
|364-365||"Filthy Habits" (Läther) 7:00-7:03||20:18-20:23|
|367||"Filthy Habits" (Läther) 6:20-6:22||20:24-20:27|
|368-369||"Filthy Habits" (Läther) 6:22-6:24||20:27-20:31|
|371-376||"Re-gyptian Strut" (Läther) 0:13-0:22||20:33-20:49|
|10. I'm Stealing The Room|
|2.01. I'm Stealing The Towels||2.01. I'm Stealing The Room|
|2.02. Dental Hygiene Dilemma|
|2.03. Does This Kind Of Life Look Interesting To You?|
|11. Shove It Right In|
|1.15. Janet's Big Dance Number||2.02. Shove It Right In|
|1.19. Lucy's Seduction Of A Bored Violinist & Postlude|
|65-72||"Duck Duck Goose" (Läther) 1:24-1:53||3:30-3:55|
|12. Penis Dimension|
|2.05. Penis Dimension||2.03. Penis Dimension|
|76-99||Frank Zappa filmt 200 Motels (1971) 16:23-17:19||4:57-5:51||Theme From Lumpy Gravy (Duodenum)|
|13. Strictly Genteel|
|2.15. Strictly Genteel (The Finale)||2.04. Finale: Strictly Genteel|
(*) Timing approximate.
Us: Do you like country music at all?
Frank: I like bluegrass and Appalachian modal music. Just as underground might be, could be, (if you stretched your imagination) the voice of American youth, country music, seems to me, to be the voice of the right wing; frighteningly mentally unhealthy America. People who are living a hard life, like "Boy, I've got it rough," groove with country music because those songs talk about their hard lives, and they can identify with that music. They don't want to hear about love. They want to hear about "my life as a victim of fate." And that's what that music appeals to.
Us: We spoke to Mike Bloomfield, lead guitarist for the Electric Flag, and he said country music reflected the real, hard core America.
Frank: If you'd like to think of America in that way, as unchanging or unchangeable, then country music is the voice of that sort of America Maybe it's necessary that those people be serviced with that sort of music to give them enough stamina to withstand being a truck driver. Unless you really love driving a truck, it would get to be pretty rotten, I imagine. If you have some music to help cheer you up while you're driving that truck, the job is more tolerable. I like bluegrass because of the technical proficiency it takes to play it.
We attended a recording scene in Nashville, and Buck Owens, wow, that guy. He and his friends. They get drunk and drive 200 mph down the street: "Can you hit that mail box?" "Sure I can hit that mail box." Wrap the car around it in the middle of winter, and have to walk 60 miles to the next town. They're just insane. Like there was one of those country stars who died in a plane crash. This one guy had his own private plane, and he was flying over the home of one of his friends. "Oh. I'm going to give that sucker a start!" He wanted to buzz the guy's house, and he crashed his plane. Then they all follow in their daddy's footsteps.
It is the only piece of material that deals with a look at the motivations of the girl. Many groups have done songs about groupies, but coverage of that subject has been superficial and the lyrics to this song represent some kind of landmark in the way in which the subject has been dealt with.
It's just as if Donovan himself had appeared on my very own TV with words of peace, love, and eternal cosmic wisdom . . . !
That was Billy The Mountain dressed up like Donovan fading out on the wall mounted TV screen.
Does this kind of life look interesting to you?
I very specifically remember a television commercial in the late '60s that was on behalf of a broadcasting school, can't recall the name. In it, a clean-cut disc-jockey sits in a sound booth, calls the next tune, begins playing it, and as he lowers the volume of the room monitor he turns in his comfortable chair and addresses the camera and audience, beginning with "Does this kind of life look interesting to you?". You have to imagine this phrase being uttered in that smooth disc-jockey-type voice to get the full impact of what Zappa was parodying. Also, the tune in the background of the commercial is definitely being parodied by Zappa in the orchestra part.
Please, I need someone else who lived in L.A. in the '60s to tell me they have remember that ad, too!
Now yesterday I went to see the new movie Argo, and lo and behold, the song is ALSO in the background of one of the scenes of Argo. By reading the credits, I figure out that it's "Hip Hug Her" (1967), an instrumental by Booker T & The MGs.
Now remember, the only reason that Zappa was parodying this song was that it was in the background of this old DJ broadcasting school TV commercial, where the phrase "Does This Kind Of Life Look Interesting To You?" came from! Zappa merely changed the kind of life from "radio DJ" to "fake rock and roll guitar player in a comedy group".
Also read this comment at YouTube, under Booker T & the MG's—Hip Hug Her:
It made a cool commercial for disc jockey school, but it was a fine instrumental in its own right, Everybody knew this song. Frank Zappa did a hilarious cover of it called "Does This Kind of Life Look Interesting to You?" Check it out!
So there are at least 2 people in the world who get this obscure joke! Very obscure reference, but it felt like it was directed right at me! Ahh, what satisfaction!
Certain paranoias form the basis of some of your material, like Penis Dimension. To what extent are these your own, those of the group, everybody's? Are you worried about the size of your prick?
Well, I wouldn't say so, no. I would say that there are certain aspects of the film that are extracted from just the general atmosphere of this age, the whole rock 'n' roll age, the whole scene of pop music. It's not just the experience of the Mothers, a lot of the stuff about touring could apply to any group that's had related experiences.
[The demo version is] the same recording as on the soundtrack—but with a shit-kicking instrumental intro (which was also part of the song during live performances). Also, the bassline appears to be slightly different.
For the first forty-five seconds, both versions have the same bass line. But after that, they have different lines.
Some old melodies
(Save for your chrome-with-heavy-duty-leather-thong Peace Medallion, heh . . . )
Peaceniks . . . Bullshit. Demonstrations of that sort don't do anything . . . They're not effective. People have a misguided conception of what is effective politically. I can't believe those people really believe that marching around with a sign saying "Peace" . . . I would say "Sure. You just keep on marching around with your sign and it's gonna happen." That's really dumb. [...] The war should be stopped. It's a war of greed. They all are, I guess. Even the Crusades. But that's not the way to do it.
And make you assume a series of marginally erotic poses involving . . . a plastic chair and . . . an old guitar strap while I . . . did a wee-wee in your hair and . . . beat you with a pair of tennis shoes . . . I got from Jeff Beck.
Roelof Kiers: Miss Lucy, what's— What are the highlights of your career as a GTO?
Miss Lucy: The highlights? Ah, well once, oooo, once . . . once I was very drunk at the log cabin and we were having a rehearsal—(You don't say)—and Jeff Beck came over, a-HA HA! And I don't know what happened but he had some J&B Scotch. And ehm, I went to the hotel with him. And he let me wear his boots.
Miss Connie: That was your highlight?
Miss Lucy: Well, that was one of the highlights. Oh, not that part. And eh, I didn't have any clothes on except for his boots on. And then I . . . Can I say this, can I say anything I want? I pissed on his chest, AAAH HA HA! The next day I was hard all over, beside I was so embarassed, when I saw him again I was so, ooooh . . . That was one of them.
That closing scene was intended to be a parody of every sincere announcer that closes off every musical program. You know, "Ladies and Gentlemen." The horrible thing about that closing thing is, and I didn't know it when I wrote it . . . is that that's just about the way Theodore Bikel usually closes the act he does on stage—it's almost the same kind of rap, and I didn't know.
He's making me do this, ladies and gentlemen. I wouldn't do it if it weren't for this.
Are there many ad libs in '200 Motels'?
There are a few in there, but mostly it's all scripted. The biggest ad lib is Howard's thing at the end where he's saying 'he's making me do it'.
Research, compilation and maintenance by Román García Albertos