Politics

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Politics are a running theme in Frank Zappa's music, as well as a recurring subject in interviews. His most political albums are Freak Out!, Absolutely Free, We're Only In It For The Money, Thing-Fish and Broadway The Hard Way.

Zappa was known for encouraging people to register to vote and even had voter booths installed at concerts during his 1988 tour.


Attempts of political parties to approach Zappa

The U.S. political party, The Libertarian Party, approached Zappa in 1988 to seek their presidential nomination. Zappa decided that while he agreed with them on some issues, he could not endorse their entire platform, so he declined. Zappa said,

"I can't really stand up and support your platform whole heartedly because some the stuff you have in here is either wrong or stupid. And, in order for me to be a candidate for your party, would they, in fact, nominate me if I couldn't be an ideologue and go the whole 9 yards." He added it was doubtful they would support you at the convention if you didn't just spew the whole thing. And said; "Well, I'm not your bot. Thanks a lot. Goodbye." [1]

Cultural Ambassador

Zappa did agree to become Cultural Ambassador of Czechoslovakia in the 1990s. He travelled to the country and had various conversations with recently-elected president Václav Havel. However, his plans were thwarted by pressure by the U.S. government and multinationals to either do business with us or with Frank Zappa.

Presidential ambitions

Frank Zappa at one point considered running for U.S. President. For more information see The President.

Zappa about politics

"I think pop music is the new politics, and the only valid politics. A lot of the things wrong with the world today could be put right by musicians quicker than they could by politicians." - Frank Zappa. Reviled, Revered Mother Superior, Chris Welch, Melody Maker, 5 October 1968.


" I think politics is a valid concept, but what we have today is not really politics. It's the equivalent of the high school election. It's a popularity contest. It's got nothing to do with politics – what it is is mass merchandising. I think politics is a valid concept, but what we have today is not really politics. It's the equivalent of the high school election. It's a popularity contest. It's got nothing to do with politics – what it is is mass merchandising." - Quoted from Frank Kofsky interviews FZ, 1969.


"I watch the politics in the States go by and gag over it once in a while. I get involved in it as much as I am an artist and I say what I like about the environment in which I produce my work. To get out in the street and wave a flag is a waste of time, definitely a non functional gesture. It doesn't alter any condition and if you want to be a hippy on the weekends and you want to be involved and don't have anything much to do – go to a demonstration. A lot of people misconstrued the early albums because they didn't see that I was criticizing both sides of the fence. On one hand I have Bow Tie Daddy talking about this dude who drinks and goes home in his Lincoln, and then the discussion about the flower punks. And all that album did was alienate the flower punks. I haven't dropped the social stuff. Only the blatant stuff has gone. Political social stuff can exist on a non-vocal level. In a more subtle way. I don't want to carry on doing the same thing for ever." - 'Quoted from It's all in self-defence, Jonathan Green Friends, 22 November 1969.


"Most of my songs are not political, they are sociological. It's more a bane to my existence. People said I was talking about political stuff, and the only thing that I can see is remotedly political is "Brown Shoes Don't Make It", 'cause that's about legislators." - Mother In Lore, Patrick and Barbara Salvo, Melody Maker, 5 January 1974.


"Well, I don't think politics – or the personality game of politics – really does matter. They're all working for the same company. It's hard to tell one from the other. That's just a charade. [In the 1960s] anybody who thought he had an ideal was used by the people who were supposed to be removed. Peace marches and things like that were social events more than they were real idealistic, "Hey, let's go do something" situations. You could get laid at a peace march, too. After the march, you grabbed a girl with a stinking blanket, and it was something to do. That's what it was all about. Now, you can go to a disco and do the same thing – and you don't have to smell that blanket." - Interview: Frank Zappa, Charlene Keel, Genesis, April 1979.


"Politics isn't the answer to everything. That's like the 1,000 clowns at the circus who get out of the tiny car, and you're supposed to be amazed. That's what politics is. They don't really stick their heads in the tiger's mouth. Politics is a bunch of show and blow for people who don't understand. The real decisions are not conducted at the polling place; they're conducted over a glass of Perrier in some luxurious resort where people with lots of bucks decide how they're going to chop up the world." - He's Only 38 and He Knows How to Nasty, Clark Peterson, Relix, November 1979.


"The first thing that they can do is to remember that art in the service of politics usually makes for boring art. The way that I think people should deal with this situation is to have some courage to resist the pressure of the record companies, because the record companies are more than delighted to sell out the First Amendment or any other historical document in order to increase their quarterly bottom line, usually at the expense of the rights of the artist. Let's face it, you're just a piece of meat when it comes to a record contract. And today, most record companies are not all that interested in building your career. They figure if they've got one album and they can make a bunch of bucks, they're delighted about it. Then they kiss you goodbye and pick up the next guy with some weird hairdo and some diagonal zippers on his body. You should fight that. People who are in the music business, when they do interviews, instead of plugging their next album or whatever, should actually have the courage to speak out about what they believe. A lot of them seem to have been given the word by their managers to keep their mouth shut."

Interviewer: Perhaps many musicians simply aren't concerned with political issues.

Zappa: "Well, I think it behooves them to have political thoughts, but let me make a definition clarification here. I say politics is the entertainment branch of industry, and government is what we need. We have a diverse population in the United States, with all kinds of different needs that have to be taken care of. That is the righteous function of government. Politics is bullshit, basically. Politics is involved with salesmanship. Government is involved with statesmanship. And I do make a distinction between those things. If you are making political statements, remember, you are not addressing the real needs of government. You're just talking about the Madison Avenue aspect. So think about that difference. Just a friendly reminder, in case somebody does decide to speak up."- Quoted from Sample This!, Jim Aikin and Bob Doerschuk for Keyboard, February 1987.


I've always thought that democracy was a good idea. I've always thought that if you're going to have a political system, that's the one that's the most in phase with how people actually think and how they like to live their lives if government would leave them alone. And so I think that it's something that's worth supporting." - Frank Zappa's Crusade – 25 Years And Counting, Drew Wheeler, Billboard, May 1990.


"Let's face it, folks: Politicians in the United States are the scum of the earth. We have to go after them individually because they're varmints. The legislation they are passing, piece by piece, converts America into a police state. The mentality that has existed since Reagan and Bush is that the population of the United States has to be subjugated by law." - Frank Zappa. Interview in Playboy, 2 May 1993.

See also

References