Absolutely Free: The Complete Libretto

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Foreword to the "Absolutely Free Libretto"

all the words on the record
both complete librettos to accompany the VERVE recording V/V6-5013 by THE MOTHERS of INVENTION.
words & music by FRANK ZAPPA
© 1967 FRANK ZAPPA MUSIC BMI, a subsidiary of Third Story Music BMI


Music has always shown how people think and feel, according to John Tasker Howard. He is probably right. The music of the MOTHERS speaks of the feelings of what might be described as THE VAST MINORITY. The feelings of the people on the fringe of everything ... the ones who don't care if they're IN or OUT ... don't care if they're HIP, HEP, SWINGIN' or ZORCH. This is the audience the MOTHERS want to reach... those few who have the power within themselves to cause or motiviate social change but have never used it for one reason or another. If you are reading this and understand it (even if you have short hair and watch TV 18 hours a day), it is time that you realized WHO and WHAT YOU ARE. It is time you realized what the words to our songs mean.

This album was recorded the week before Thanksgiving, November 1966 in Los Angeles at the Sunset-Highland Studios of T.T.G. Inc., in a series of 4 sessions (about 25 studio hours). It was edited and re-mixed in New York City at the MGM Studios in 5 sessions (about 35 studio hours) the following week. The album was finally released around May 26, 1967 ... the reason for the delay? Partly because of this libretto. The original plan was to include within the album, the words in this brochure. The record company attempted to censor the words and a long involved discussion ensued. We were forced to manufacture this product.

The music itself took several years to compose (AMERICA DRINKS & GOES HOME was written in 1964 ... most of the other segments were written before or shortly after FREAK OUT!, our first album, was released in 1966). We hope that this material will help you to enjoy our work on a more personal level.

Thank you
Frank Zappa
for the MOTHERS of Invention

The following introduction to the lyrics of Absolutely Free appeared in the British underground newspaper The International Times (Zappa, Frank. "Mothers of Invention; The Lyrics Are Absolutely Free." The International Times 18.1/6 (August 31 - September 13, 1967.): 10-12.):

THESE are words to the songs on our new album "ABSOLUTELY FREE." This is not a reprint of the actual libretto that is published in the United States to accompany this record. It is a hasty attempt to give the Bristish listener a chance to more fully understand the message inherent in the album.

Pauline Butcher, secretary at large, in a gruelling five hour session, was subjected to the awful task of translating the garbled nonsense on our album into a form that I hope most of you can understand.

Some of the terms, abbreviations and colloquial expressions used in the lyrics may not be familiar to Britis [sic] listeners. Along with the actual words to the songs this special version of the libretto will include brief technical explanations for you.

No 1 in a series UndergroundOratorios [sic]
The insincere ass holes who run almost everybody's country are plastic people. References to Sunset Boulevard, Pandora's Box, CIA, and Laurel Canyon, all relate tothe [sic] first youth riots in Los Angeles last year.
[Lyrics of Plastic People follow.]

The Duke of Prunes is a surrealistic love song. Euphemistic sexual imagery popular in country blues tunes, with which many of you might already be familiar, is transmuted in this particular piece from the basic " ... me, suck me, till my eyes roll back baby" to "prune me, cheese me, go-kart ... " or something like that. This song is very strange.
[Lyrics of The Duke Of Prunes follow.]

A dashing duke is attempting to pick up two cheer leaders in a parking plot who bash him in the face with a rock leading to Amnesia:
Duke, duke, duke, duke
Prunes, prunes, prunes, prunes, prunes
What is your name?
It's nice to see you again
You'll be my duchess of prunes
My duchess of prunes.

[Lyrics of The Duke Regains His Chops follow.]

The best clue to this song might lie in the fact that people who are inactive in a society ... people who do not live up to their responsibilities are vegetables. I feel that these people, even if they are inactive, apathetic or unconcerned at this point, can be motivated toward a more useful sort of existence. I believe that if you call any vegetable it will respond to you.
[Lyrics of Call Any Vegetable follow.]

Young pumpkin dances and sweats round a desk leading to Amnesia.

[Lyrics of Soft Sell Conclusion And Ending follow.]

On this side of the album there are two versions of this set of lyrics. This version which opens side two is in effect an abstraction (in advance of) the set of lyrics which close side two. The opening lines of "One, two, buckle my shoe' and "doopie, doopie' are derived from a time called "My Little Red Book".
[Lyrics of America Drinks follow.]

Status Back Baby is a song about young acne America and their daily trials and tribulations. It is unfortunate that many young Americans really do worry about losing status at the high school. De Molay is a religious youth organisation in the United States. A Pom Pom Girl is a young lady who cuts strips of crepe paper all week long after school to make an object known as a pom pom, which is a puffy ball composed of strips of crepe paper. After she has manufactured her own pom pom, she will go to the football game and jump high in the air with her pom pom in her hand shouting, as she does so, these immortal words: "We've got a team that's on the beam, that's really hep to the jive. Come on tigers, let's skin 'em alive." Or, "Push 'em back, push 'em back. We like it, sissboombah." Then they drink beer and get pregnant in the back of somebody's car.
[Lyrics of Status Back Baby follow.]

Uncle Bernie's Farm is a song about ugly toys and the people who make them. Implied here is the possibility that the people who buy the ugly toys might be as ugly as the toys themselves.
[Lyrics of Uncle Bernie's Farm follow.]

Son of Suzie Creamcheese is a stirring saga of a young groupie. Her actions are all motivated by a desire to be "in" at all times. Hence the drug abuse (blowing her mind on too much Kool-aid: acid ... Stealing her boyfriend's stash: a hidden supply of drugs ... and leaving Los Angeles for a protest march in Berkeley).
[Lyrics of Son Of Suzy Creamcheese follow.]

Brown Shoes Don't Make It. It is a song about the people who run the government, the people who make the laws that keep you from living the kind of life you know you should lead. These unfortunate people manufacture inequitable laws and ordinances, perhaps unaware of the fact that the restrictions they place on the young people in a society are a result of their own hidden sexual frustrations. Dirty old men have no business running your country.
[Lyrics of Brown Shoes Don't Make It follow.]

America Drinks And Goes Home is an unsubtle parody of adult conduct in neighbourhood cocktail lounges in America. The humour is aimed at (1) the type of music your parents like to listen to, (2) the manner in which they like to have it performed (the insincerity of the night-club crooner in his closing address to the the alcoholics at the bar), (3) the manner in which the audience persists in talking above the level of the music while it is being performed (which belies their disrespect as an art and for anyone involved in the performance of music). [Lyrics of America Drinks & Goes Home follow.]