Bobby Brown (Goes Down) ~ Frank Zappa

Frank ZappaFrank Zappa was an American composer, electric guitarist, record producer and film director. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa wrote rock, jazz, electronic, orchestral, and musique concrète works. He also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed album covers. Zappa produced almost all of the more than 60 albums he released with the band Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist.

In his teens, he acquired a taste for percussion-based avant-garde composers like Edgard Varèse and 1950s rhythm and blues music. He began writing classical music in high school, while at the same time playing drums in rhythm and blues bands-he later switched to electric guitar. He was a self-taught composer and performer and his diverse musical influences led him to create music that was often impossible to categorize. His 1966 debut album with the Mothers of Invention, Freak Out!, combined songs in conventional rock and roll format with collective improvisations and studio-generated sound collages. His later albums shared this eclectic and experimental approach, irrespective of whether the fundamental format was one of rock, jazz or classical. He wrote the lyrics to all his songs, which-often humorously-reflected his iconoclastic view of established political processes, structures and movements. He was a strident critic of mainstream education and organized religion, and a forthright and passionate advocate for freedom of speech and the abolition of censorship.

Zappa was a highly productive and prolific artist and he gained widespread critical acclaim. Many of his albums are considered essential in rock history, and he is regarded as one of the most original guitarists and composers of his time; he remains a major influence on musicians and composers. He had some commercial success, particularly in Europe, and for most of his career was able to work as an independent artist. Zappa was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.

Zappa was married to Kathryn J. “Kay” Sherman from 1960 to 1964, and in 1967 he married Adelaide Gail Sloatman, with whom he remained until his death from prostate cancer in 1993. They had four children: Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen. Gail Zappa manages the businesses of her late husband under the name the Zappa Family Trust.

Bobby Brown

During the late 1970s, Frank Zappa put the emphasis in his work on sociological studies of odd human behavior, a trend that existed since his early days with the Mothers of Invention, but developed into his main concern by the time of Sheik Yerbouti. “Bobby Brown” belongs to this category.

The main character used to be a successful specimen of white male: cute, attending a “famous school,” ambitious and popular: “I am the American dream.” After his studies he is going to “get a good job ‘n’ be real rich.” But the Woman’s Liberation movement had such consequences that he turned to homosexuality and sadomasochism. Now the American dream has “a spindle up [his] butt till it makes [him] scream.”

Some people saw homophobic traits in “Bobby Brown,” but that does not reflect Frank Zappas outlook and integrity. There are actually three victims in this song. The first target is the inanity of the American dream itself: that high school boy is an egocentric piece of trash. Feminists are second, the kind that tries to turn women into men, and/or, vice-versa. Zappa would use the same topic in the track “Harry-As-A-Boy” on Thing-Fish. The third target of the song is alternative sexual practices – not homosexuality itself. Activities such as golden showers and the use of a device called the “tower of power” (a gigantic dildo fixed to a stool, as he explained in interviews) were something Zappa could not understand.

A straightforward medium-tempo song, “Bobby Brown” became a crowd favorite, mostly because of the funny vocals (a phenomenon similar to the success of Zappa’s hits “Dancin’ Fool” and “Catholic Girls”). Starting in October 1977 it remained a regular live feature up to and including Zappa’s last tour in 1988.

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Hey there, people, I’m Bobby Brown
They say I’m the cutest boy in town
My car is fast, my teeth is shiney
I tell all the girls they can kiss my heinie
Here I am at a famous school
I’m dressin’ sharp ‘n’ I’m
actin’ cool
I got a cheerleader here wants to help with my paper
Let her do all the work ‘n’ maybe later I’ll rape her

Oh God I am the American dream
I do not think I’m too extreme
An’ I’m a handsome sonofabitch
I’m gonna get a good job ‘n’ be real rich

(get a good get a good get a good get a good job)

Women’s Liberation
Came creepin’ across the nation
I tell you people I was not ready
When I fucked this dyke by the name of Freddie
She made a little speech then,
Aw, she tried to make me say “when”
She had my balls in a vice, but she left the dick
I guess it’s still hooked on, but now it shoots too quick

Oh God I am the American dream
But now I smell like Vaseline
An’ I’m a miserable sonofabitch
Am I a boy or a lady…I don’t know which

(I wonder wonder wonder wonder)

So I went out ‘n’ bought me a leisure suit
I jingle my change, but I’m still kinda cute
Got a job doin’ radio promo
An’ none of the jocks can even tell I’m a homo
Eventually me ‘n’ a friend
Sorta drifted along into S&M
I can take about an hour on the tower of power
‘Long as I gets a little golden shower
Oh God I am the American dream
With a spindle up my butt till it makes me scream
An’ I’ll do anything to get a head
I lay awake nights sayin’, “Thank you, Fred!”
Oh God, oh God, I’m so fantastic!
Thanks to Freddie, I’m a sexual spastic
And my name is Bobby Brown
Watch me now, I’m goin down,
And my name is Bobby Brown
Watch me now, I’m goin down,
And my name is Bobby Brown
Watch me now, I’m goin down….

  • Audio from the 1979 album, Sheik Yerbouti:

album-Sheik-Yerbouti
(785)

About DJ Allyn

DJ Allyn is a burned out radio guy who went on to become a burned out sound engineer for a few Seattle area grunge bands in the 1980s and 1990s. Left the madness of worldwide tours with bands, cleaned up my act and went into the relative sanity of sound engineering for television series. Currently working as the Director of Sound for a television series being filmed in North Vancouver, British Columbia. I am always on the lookout for interesting videos, old music, and fun.

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