MUSICIAN: Would you say that a fair amount of what’s called
avant-garde is pure shit?
ZAPPA: But see, that’s the idea – it’s pure shit [laughs].
MUSICIAN: But there’s other stuff that’s been called shit –
because people didn’t understand it – and later
when people understood it, the guys were called geniuses. Frank Zappa is a good
ZAPPA: Look, the thing about people saying whether
something is shit or it’s wonderful is irrelevant to the thing being discussed.
Because whatever you think is wonderful I may think is shit, and vice versa. And
neither one of our opinions matters, because of the thing that’s being discussed – it exists because of whatever it is, you know. We are not really called
upon to make these pronouncements on its value.
MUSICIAN: But wouldn’t you say that there’s got to be some
ZAPPA: That’s total shit? No! Absolutely not. Because
there’s always somebody that likes it even if it’s just the guy himself who’s
playing it – and he’s entitled to love it, and it’s
entitled to be as good as he thinks it is. And whatever we say about it doesn’t
make any difference, because we don’t know what went into the manufacture of it.
A garage band that plays a one-chord song, and plays the fuck out of it, because
they’re straining to fulfill 100% of their understanding of the E major chord on
the guitar, has achieved something spectacular if the day before they couldn’t
even make an E major chord on the guitar. But today they’re whanging it out, and
it’s really coming out good. You know, that is musical achievement. And you
might say it’s shit, but to them it’s the greatest thing that ever happened, and
they’re entitled to have their opinion be correct. I think the opinion of the
person who’s making it is the one that should prevail –
not the opinion of the listener. Because you might have had a bad day today; you
might not be in the mood for the E major chord. You want to hear F today, or C7