film music Uncategorized

The Zappa Documentary

Are great people often good people?

Frank Zappa was a complicated individual. That’s the first thought that crosses the mind after finishing this documentary. But you have to give him one thing, the man had a vision and he was fearless to execute it. He had firm ideals, both in terms of his art and the way he saw the world. He stuck to them, through thick and thin. But he also hurt people, especially his family. His wife was incredibly supportive of him and took the larger burden of raising their children. He repaid her loyalty with various flings, hookups, and affairs.

He was also many things to many people, but watching the documentary I kept getting flashbacks to reading The Moon and the Sixpence by Somerset Maughan. Zappa was an artist first and foremost. Everything was second to his art of creation. One of the saddest moments in the movie comes when his full-grown daughter writes him a letter and slips it under the door of his office. The letter simply read “Hi I’m Moon Zappa, your daughter! Nice to meet you!” The children and the wife needed more of him, but the art was the alpha and omega of his life.

But he did give himself to others. He was not a total alienator, like Somerset Maughan’s Charles Strickland. Zappa was an activist, on many fronts. Not only did he, and he was a rare exception, fight against labels and age restrictions on music. But he was also a global figure who supported the independence of new states like the Czech Republic.

The most inspiring part of him is his passion and ambition. He was both a self-educated and self-made man. Everything he knew about the music he learned by himself. It is both admirable and awe-inspiring what passion plus time plus work can accomplish. He was just a teen who picked up a guitar one day, a young man who wanted to compose and he ended up as one of the most significant musical figures of the 20th century.

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