“Trouble Every Day” – Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention
Frank Zappa wrote this song in 1965 at 1819 Bellevue Avenue, Echo Park, Los Angeles (the suburban residence of a methamphetamine chemist referred to by Zappa as “Wild Bill the Mannequin-Fucker”after watching news coverage of the Watts Riots. Originally dubbed “The Watts Riot Song,” its primary lyrical themes are racial violence, social injustice, and sensationalist journalism. The musical style—featuring multiple guitar tracks and a harmonica—much more closely resembles electric blues than mainstream rock and roll.
“We’re satirists, and we are out to satirize everything.” – Frank Zappa
Zappa was a highly prolific composer, singer-songwriter, musician, conductor, music producer for a multitude of musical genres. His range is from doo-wop through highly experimental “new music” alongside John Cage and pairing philharmonic symphonies with rock bands. He was an awesome guitar player, and enjoyed dueling with Steve Vai. It would be impossible here to cover his body of work, so I highly recommend the esteemed reader of this post do some research independently on this unique artist.
Zappa used tape editing as a compositional tool. Zappa had begun regularly recording concerts, and because of his insistence on precise tuning and timing, he was able to augment his studio productions with excerpts from live shows, and vice versa. Later, he combined recordings of different compositions into new pieces, irrespective of the tempo or meter of the sources. He dubbed this process “xenochrony” (strange synchronizations)—reflecting the Greek “xeno” (alien or strange) and “chrono” (time).Zappa also evolved a compositional approach which he called “conceptual continuity,” meaning that any project or album was part of a larger project. Everything was connected, and musical themes and lyrics reappeared in different form on later albums. Conceptual continuity clues are found throughout Zappa’s entire œuvre. (this edited from Wikipedia).
Frank Zappa was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1990, and died in 1993 at the age of 53.
In 1994, jazz magazine Down Beat‘s critics poll placed Zappa in its Hall of Fame. Zappa was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. There, it was written that “Frank Zappa was rock and roll’s sharpest musical mind and most astute social critic. He was the most prolific composer of his age, and he bridged genres—rock, jazz, classical, avant-garde and even novelty music—with masterful ease”. He received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. In 2005, the U.S. National Recording Preservation Board included We’re Only in It for the Money in the National Recording Registry as “Frank Zappa’s inventive and iconoclastic album presents a unique political stance, both anti-conservative and anti-counterculture, and features a scathing satire on hippiedom and America’s reactions to it”. The same year, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him at No. 71 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. In 2011, he was ranked at No. 22 on the list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time by the same magazine.
“Music, in performance, is a type of sculpture. The air in the performance is sculpted into something. “