Animated: Frank Zappa on Why the Culturally-Bereft United States Is So Susceptible to Fads (1971)

Frank Zappa was always frank. You gotta give him that.

Speaking with Village Voice journalist Howard Smith in 1971, Zappa talked candidly about the tastes, opinions, and beliefs of most Americans, whether they apply to music or politics or anything else. “You have a nation of people who are waiting for the next big thing to happen.” “I see a lot of changes. But I think they’re all temporary things and any change for the good is always subject to cancellation upon the arrival of the next fad. And the same thing with any change for the worst.”

Maybe it’s like this everywhere. But it’s particularly so in America says Zappa:

I think that’s a reasonable way to look at it because [the U.S.] doesn’t have any real sort of values, you know? And a fad provides you with a temporary occupation for your imagination. Really, [America] doesn’t have any real culture. It doesn’t have any real art. It doesn’t have any real anything. It’s just got fads and a gross national product and a lot of inflation.

It’s not a flattering portrait of the States. But know this. Zappa didn’t see himself being above it all: “I’m an American. I was born here. I automatically got entered in a membership in the club.” Yeah, Frank could be frank.

The video above was animated by Blank on Blank. You can read a transcript of the conversation here.

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Related Content:

Stream 82 Hours of Frank Zappa Music: Free Playlists of Songs He Composed & Performed

Frank Zappa Debates Censorship on CNN’s Crossfire (1986)

A Young Frank Zappa Turns the Bicycle into a Musical Instrument on The Steve Allen Show (1963)


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  • Nick says:

    I’m confused by the “it’s not practical for what we do,” comments. Wasn’t Ruth Underwood in the band in 71?

  • Hawkeye Doublemint says:

    Seems neither the person who posted this nor that preening, pompous, condescending twat Zappa (always too busy making fun of everyone else’s ideas on making the country better to have his own), knew what the word ‘culture’ means. Hard to believe so many self-righteous wanks still think it’s just art, when actually that’s only one segment of all those goes into a country’s/people’s culture.

  • DWTA says:

    It would have helped if the animator – Patrick Smith – had looked at a picture of Frank Zappa, before drawing the piece.

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