Who Are The Brain Police?

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What will you do if we let you go home,
And the plastic's all melted and so is the chrome?
Who are the brain police?

What will you do when the label comes off,
And the plastic's all melted and the chrome is too soft?

Who are the brain police?

What will you do if the people you knew
Were the plastic that melted and the chromium, too?
Who are the brain police?

Players On This Song

FREAK OUT! version

Records On Which This Song Has Appeared


Zappa Albums & Side Projects

Original Albums

Beat The Boots


Unauthorized Compilations

Samplers & Promos

Special Editions


Tribute & Cover Albums

The Molecules - Bootleg or Rootleg CD on French label Amanita.

Notes About This Song

FZ liner notes on "Freak Out!" (1966): "At five o’clock in the morning someone kept singing this in my mind and made me write it down. I will admit to being frightened when I finally played it out loud and sang the words."

"Who Are the Brain Police?" asks listeners if the music they listen to would cease to bring them pleasure if the packaging and material fetishes surrounding it were to suddenly disappear. It uses the record album as a model, asking what we’d do if the label were to come off and the plastic were to melt. The middle of this tune about attention to decorum rather than substance is interrupted by a snippet of "Help, I'm A Rock" from later on the album, although the part’s longer here than within its actual piece. This might simply be done to make the song even more eerie, or perhaps to "jolt the listener out of any comfort brought on by identification with this music," as Kevin Courrier writes. This isn’t the last time Frank will play with the listener’s trained impulse to seize on formulaic music; on the Money album, the sound of a phonograph needle jumping out of a catchy song will frequently keep the ear from getting too used to the pleasant hooks.

"A lot of people police their own brains. They're like citizen soldiers, so to speak. I've seen people who will willingly arrest, try and punish their own brains. Now that's really sad. That's vigilante brain policism. It's not even official, it's like self-imposed. It's hard to pin it down to one central agency when you realize that so many people are willing to do it to themselves. I mean, the people who want to become amateur brain police, their numbers grow every day - people who say to themselves, "I couldn't possibly consider that", and then spank themselves for even getting that far. So, you don't even need to blame it on a central brain police agency. You've got plenty of people who willingly subject themselves to this self-mutilation." - FZ in Bob Marshall interview, 1988

FZ: "The heaviest stuff on there is 'It Can't Happen Here' and 'Who Are The Brain Police?' Nobody's penetrated 'Brain Police' - yet." - FK: "Who are the Brain Police?" - FZ: "I can't tell you that - it's a religious song. But the ones who say they like 'Brain Police' like it because it's got some screaming and they love it. The ones that like 'Help, I'm A Rock', you know that mumbling part at the end, haven't come to realize what the musical structure of that is. They'll perceive it because it's got some gag lines in it." - Jazz & Pop, 1967, Frank Kofsky

"A free-form nightmare built from mechanical imagery, 'Who Are The Brain Police?' has the strangest instumental break ever recorded – unidentifiable noises superimposed on top of each other including voices babbling indistinguihably, a bass electric guitar being tortured to death and what sounds like a factory steam whistle chorus." - Los Angeles Times, 1966, "Popular Records: Pass Aspirin, Please", Pete Johnson

CC Clues In This Song