Saturday, time for a classic.
"Muffin Man" is a song recorded live by Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention. It appears on his 1975 mostly live album "Bongo Fury" made with Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet). The song begins with studio-recorded spoken word lyrics delivered by Zappa and is followed by the chorus. The song was inspired by the traditional nursery rhyme, "The Muffin Man". The song closes the album, as well as the compilation Strictly Commercial, and was also used as a finale in concerts for many years afterward. The song's tone was compared to Jimi Hendrix's style. An alternative live version of "Muffin Man" appears on the compilation "You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 6." This song also appears on the 2009 album released by the Zappa Family Trust Philly '76, the 2002 album "FZ:OZ" and the 2003 album "Halloween".
Frank Zappa's son, Dweezil, along with his Zappa Plays Zappa (ZPZ) band, has featured "Muffin Man" on many concert tours. In 2010, they offered video footage of Frank Zappa playing "Muffin Man", along with isolated Frank Zappa guitar parts, so Dweezil and ZPZ accompanied live Frank Zappa and his extended guitar solo.
The meaning of the song was never fully explained by Frank Zappa, and as such there are many interpretations. The "Muffin Man" of the song appears to be a new kind of food aficionado, one who has taken his love for muffins on a scientific and semi-religious level. He can simply be considered an incarnation of gluttony. In a more generic way, he could represent fanaticism for a certain matter, that turns him away from other interests in life. There are some who have interpreted his loyalty towards his favorite food as a parody of the repetitive bourgeois life Zappa despised. In the chorus, an unnamed "girl" is introduced, who appears to have been in a love affair with the muffin man. This part can be interpreted as a record of her sexual delusions: her man was so focused in his research for the perfect muffin that he didn't give her pleasure ("no cries is heard in the night" probably refers to orgasms). Considering Zappa's typical sexual themes, it has been speculated that the song can be entirely read as a sexual innuendo.
In the Spring of 1975 Frank Zappa and his famed Mothers went on tour with long-time collaborator Captain Beefheart. The "mostly live" Bongo Fury came out in October of the same year. The album concludes with a bit of Zappa absurdity that would become a concert favorite in years to come.
"Muffin Man" consists of three separate segments, a studio-recorded preamble and a live chorus followed by an extended guitar solo. In it Zappa tells of the "Muffin Man", more a muffin scientist than an ordinary muffin enthusiast, who takes a break from his important work at the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen to expound of the glories of his most beloved pastry. Of course, "Muffin Man's" real greatness comes not from the amusing story, but from Zappa's transcendent guitar. Zappa was a legendarily talented and prolific artist who willed himself to the outer limits of popular music. He is remembered for his humorous, crude and confrontational lyrics, dedication to the rights of free speech, and contempt for the musical mainstream, but is sometimes overlooked as a guitar player. With a devilish Gibson SG, he produced some of the most frantically explosive guitar work ever committed to vinyl. "Muffin Man" stands as the greatest testament to his virtuosity.
The Video clip is filmed Live At The Palladium, NYC / 10-31-77. The Spotify link is picked from the live album "Helloween". Enjoy today's classic!
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Listen to ”Frank Zappa - Muffin Man - Live At The Palladium 77'" on Spotify!
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