A Pound For A Brown On The Bus

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Notes About This Song

From liner notes of The Yellow Shark:

The tune dates from 1957 or '58. It was originally a string quartet I wrote right about the time I graduated (from high school). It's one of the oldest pieces, and it's been played by just about every one of the touring bands, in one version or another. The title, "Pound for a Brown", was based on a bet. On our first trip to Europe, when we got to England, one of the guys in the band bet another guy in the band a pound that he wouldn't "brown-out" on the bus on the way into London.

Frank Zappa introducing the song in London in 1969:

We have these surfers and they have this curious thing called the Brown Out, which is part of their culture. Now, the Brown Out is the thing that you do to impress your surfer friends and to make other people's eyebrows go up and down. And what you do is you get the other person's attention-- you wave at them or you say something amusing--and they turn around and look at you and then suddenly you reverse your position, drop your pants, and stick your buns out at them. That is a Brown Out. Also known as a Brown. And also known as Mooning on the East Coast. There are a number of variations on this procedure. If you Brown Out against a wire screen, its called a chipped beef. And if you do it against a plate glass window at a delicatessen, its called a pressed ham.

Last year, before we did our Festival Hall show, we arrived at the airport and were provided with a touring bus with nice big windows so that everybody on the outside could see in and we could see out. The lovely ride from the airport to the Winton Hotel. During this trip, a wager was made between Jimmy Carl Black, the Indian of the group, and Bunk Gardner, our silver-haired tenor saxophone virtuoso. Jimmy Carl Black turned to Bunk Gardner and said "I'll bet you a pound you won't Brown Out on this here bus." Bunk Gardner, being the crafty silver-haired devil that he is, quickly computed the difference between a pound and a dollar and had his pants off before anybody knew what was happening.

CC Clues In This Song

The track on Electric Aunt Jemima includes Sleeping In A Jar.