Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch
The shape of the enlarged Droodle on the front cover spells out “ZA” (and even an arguably incomplete “FZ”).
In 1916, when German poet Ernie Ball opened a dictionary to a random page in order to find a term for his new artistic movement, he arrived at dada, which means “goodbye” in German and “hobby horse” in French. Ball now gave it a third meaning, which went along with Zappa’s motif “anything, anytime, anywhere, for no reason at all.” It centered on the comic derision of society’s fixtures and a belief in the interconnectedness, on one level or another, of everything and everyone. In forcing connections between initially unrelated things, Dadaists questioned the value of certain types of art over others. This was one general idea behind Zappa’s inclusion of unconventional ingredients in pieces framed and presented as music. Non-instrument objects and musically unorthodox mouth sounds were presented as being just as “valid” as customary musical sources, and mistakes and covertly recorded conversations made art out of real life, not some mystical, transcendent or “lofty” state.
”No Not Now” from this album provides a great example of the above: a single addictive, melodious rock song manages to poke fun at truckers, Mormons, truckers hauling string beans (a food popular with Mormons), Mormon entertainers Donny and Marie Osmond, Hawaiian Punch (for which the siblings once sang a TV jingle, which can briefly be heard instrumentally after a remark about Hawaiian shirts in “Drowning Witch,” as well as during other concert pieces from this period), and the ‘60s TV show Hawaii Five-O. A hobby horse is even mentioned in this opening song.