Frank Zappa (1940-1993)

Yesterday, December 4th, was the 18th anniversary of Frank Zappa’s death. Though I never met him, his loss resonates with me on several levels. Like most fans of Frank Zappa’s music, I was extremely backward socially and more than a little awkward emotionally when I first encountered his music via a documentary in 1993. Everything about him, as presented to my little teenage mind, represented a freedom that I didn’t have but craved dearly.

The quest for that freedom helped me grow into the person I am today. I weep for the me that exists in the alternate reality that never encountered Frank Zappa. That Sullivan is probably very bitter and alone.

As a young person growing up in a place where thoughts and ideas outside of the social norm were not things to be shared, Frank Zappa showed that it was OK, in fact, to do so. Also, he demonstrated it was OK to get a little bit of satisfaction in doing so. As a kid, I had a lot pent-up emotion because I didn’t feel it was OK or safe to express myself. I still wrestle with that, but I know I’m now light-years beyond my old self because I am more secure in expressing myself personally and creatively because of Frank Zappa.

Unfortunately, FZ passed away just as I was beginning my admiration of him and to search for his music. As such, it was impossible to let him know of my gratitude for his music and his example. So from December 4th until December 21st (his birthday) of every year, I do my best to listen to and celebrate the music of Frank Zappa.

This documentary, by the BBC, introduced me to Frank. Enjoy.

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