FRANK ZAPPA b-day: CAMARILLO BRILLO [OVERNITE SENSATION, 1973]

Το ότι πρόκειται για ένα από τα πιο δημοφιλή τραγούδια του FZ, δεν το εμποδίζει να είναι και ένα από τα καλύτερα. Το αντίθετο.
Από το έξοχο
Overnite Sensation του 1973 [check ακόμα στο blog από το ίδιο άλμπουμ: “Zomby Woof”].
The fact that this is one of
FZ’s most well-known songs doesn’t prevent it from being one of his best ever. On the contrary.
From the exceptional
Overnite Sensation, 1973 [check also “Zomby Woof” on this blog from the same album].

She had that
Camarillo brillo
Flamin’ out along her head,
I mean her Mendocino bean-o
By where some bugs had made it red
She ruled the Toads of the Short Forest
And every newt in Idaho
And every cricket who had chorused
By the bush in Buffalo
She said she was
A Magic Mama
And she could throw a mean Tarot
And carried on without a comma
That she was someone I should know
She had a snake for a pet
And an amulet
And she was breeding a dwarf
But she wasn’t done yet
She had gray-green skin
A doll with a pin
I told her she was awright
But I couldn’t come in
(I couldn’t come in right then . . . )
And so she wandered
Trough the door-way
Just like a shadow from the tomb
She said her stereo was four-way
An’ I’d just love it in her room
Well, I was born
To have adventure
So I just followed up the steps
Right past her fuming incense stencher
To where she hung her castanets
She stripped away
Her rancid poncho
An’ laid out naked by the door
We did it till we were un-concho
An’ it was useless any more
She had a snake for a pet
And an amulet
And she was breeding a dwarf
But she wasn’t done yet
She had gray-green skin
A doll with a pin
I told her she was awright
But I couldn’t come in
(actually, I was very busy then)
And so she wandered
Through the door-way
Just like a shadow from the tomb
She said her stereo was four-way
An’ I’d just love it in her room
Well, I was born
To have adventure
So I just followed up the steps
Right past her fuming incense stencher
To where she hung her castanets
She said she was
A Magic Mama
And she could throw a mean Tarot
And carried on without a comma
That she was someone I should know
(Is that a real poncho . . . I mean
Is that a Mexican poncho or is that a Sears poncho?
Hmmm . . . no foolin’ . . . )

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5 Comments

  1. trentpmcd December 21, 2020 at 2:37 pm

    OK, very strange. I listen to a lot of Zappa, but it has been years since I heard this. Near the end, there is a part were a couple of saxes play a line in tight harmony. That line, and that exact harmony, slowed down, was used as the basis of a song on David Bowie’s last album, the song Lazarus.

    Reply
    1. Oannes December 21, 2020 at 5:14 pm

      Correct! I had not noticed it either, since it’s been a long since I ‘ve heard this myself. [I must tell you I always thought there was a peculiar relation, not a friendly one, between Bowie and Zappa, but that’s another story. And I don’t mean the Adrian Belew incident].
      I already had a little “theory” about the origin of the “Lazarus” song. If you go to the end of “Suffragette City” from Ziggy Stardust, you will hear this repetitive A-F section, with a synth sound that immitates the sound of a saxophone. I think “Lazarus” is an echo of this thing [same chords exactly, and with a …real saxophone], given the additional fact that, video-wise, the “Lazarus” story seems like a sequel of the “Blackstar” story: on “Lazarus” video, Bowie comes back from the “Suffragette City” of the “Blackstar” video, where the Isis priestesses ceremony’s taken place [“only women kneel and smile”].

      Reply
      1. trentpmcd December 21, 2020 at 8:52 pm

        I’ve never thought much about Zappa and Bowie, but it is possible there was a relationship, good or bad, there – the musical universe was pretty small back then, and there was a lot cross over audience.
        I do hear a little of that progression from Suffragette City in Lazarus. I know there was a lot of references to his past music in the Blackstar album and the videos. It even starts at the very beginning, with Major Tom….

        Reply
  2. Resa December 23, 2020 at 12:51 am

    I LOVE THIS SONG!!!!
    It is my 3rd fave Zappa song, right behind “Call Any Vegetable” and “Dental Floss Tycoon”.
    His influence was, and I believe still is massive, in a certain music community. (I read the very articulate and revealing comments above 👍)

    There is a sincere desire in his work/message that is reflected in the lines “Is that a real poncho . . . I mean
    Is that a Mexican poncho or is that a Sears poncho?”
    Those words have stuck with me for my life. Sometimes I sense, even know pretension, be it in music, lyrics, other arts. Whatever, whomever, I think; “Is that a real poncho . . . I mean
    Is that a Mexican poncho or is that a Sears poncho?”

    Of course, I consider Hot Rats a further articulation of his musical voice/talent, but not songs, per se.
    Thank you for this! I had so much fun listening, remembering and grooving.

    Reply
    1. Oannes December 25, 2020 at 9:49 pm

      Thank you! It was great fun for me also since It’s been years and years from the last time I heard it!

      Reply

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