Frank Vincent Zappa was an extraordinary composer, musician, and bandleader. His works reflect his true and personal reasoning to continue his work. Frank’s free-form improvisation, sound experiments, and satire of American culture are known throughout the world. Also, his work was eclectic and often controversial.
Zappa was full of talents. He was also influenced by the likes of Bob Dylan and after hearing Dylan’s ‘Like a Rolling Stone.’ He commented, “When I heard ‘Like a Rolling Stone, I wanted to quit the music business.” Quiet a thing to say, but back then he hadn’t even released an official studio album.
Zappa added, “I felt [that] if this wins and it does what it’s supposed to do, I don’t need to do anything else.” Zappa has also talked about the music he likes. He has always been on the giving side in the music world. And looks like, there is a group he likes because of their modesty.
While talking with Rolling Stone in 1974, he talked about Steely Dan and commented, “They’re one of my favorite groups.” Frank talked about how he liked the sound of the band. Even the simplest tune they played was hard to master and he loved that challenge. Zappa added,
“I like their modality, their melodicism. Their lyrics aren’t bad in that vein they’re working, that downer surrealism. As relaxing listening music, I’d give it a 98. One person in our band, Ruth Underwood, would give them about a 120. She really fetishes them. She’s usually got their cassette rammed into her ear.”
Zappa also had a great impression on Steely Dan. It led to a great relationship between the two of them. Talking about their relationship, Donald Fagen the frontman of Steely Dan disclosed, “When Walter [Becker] and I met, we had a constellation of enthusiasms. Science fiction, jazz, black humour, novels by Thomas Berger, Terry Southern, Philip Roth, Vladimir Nabokov, Kurt Vonnegut especially. That certainly influenced the lyric writing.”
Their sense of humor was something that helped them during their dark times. Zappa could make anyone laugh and this made their friendship stronger. He continued, “We also liked comic songwriting, like Tom Lehrer. He was a piano player and songwriter who wrote these grim, funny songs. And then we were both fans of Frank Zappa and the Fugs.
Fagen also revealed Zappa was the main source of their comedic influences. Fagen revealed, “The only comic rock and roll I remember was Frank Zappa, really. The Fugs were comic also, but their music was so primitive. I remember the Fugs used to play free in Tompkins Square Park in the sixties, and at one point, they were really the kings of the Lower East Side.”
Listen to some of the best songs by Steely Dan down below.