Song of the Day: Frank Zappa, “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow”

The incredibly prolific and visionary Frank Zappa was reluctant to be labeled as a jazz artist, yet he is celebrated to this day as a very influential figure in the evolution of jazz fusion. Apostrophe (‘), from 1974, remains his most commercially successful album and even featured an unlikely hit song named “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow,” which includes references to the Lionel Hampton/Sonny Burke jazz standard, “Midnight Sun.”

This is the first part of a loosely connected four-part narrative suite about a boy named Nanook, defined by absurd lyrics including a fair share of scatological humor, some of which has been openly derided. Yet, many have also referred to it as being a profound attack on the capitalist society, particularly when considering its reference to dream and dream logic. Ben Watson, for example, writes: “Awash with puns, reverse-logic and sexual symbolism, Zappa understands adverts as the dream time of the rational capitalist order, and plunders them for Dadaist dysfunctionalism.”

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