top of page

Frank Zappa - Joe's Garage

A Sneak Peek...

And this time .. "Joe's Garage" Frank Zappa's Triple Studio Album which was released on September 17, 1979 (Act I) and November 19, 1979 (Acts II & III).

This is a concept album, a kind of rock opera, which tells a crazy and imaginative story that includes harsh criticism against American culture, the pursuit of money, consumer culture, censorship and restriction of freedom of speech, especially in music, church, Scientology and more. The lyrics express protests on topics such as the phenomenon of Groupies, fetishism, youth bands, sexually transmitted diseases, American "junk" culture and "wet T-shirt" contests, the attitude of music companies towards artist and more.

The plot tells the story of Joe, a good US boy mowing the neighbors' lawn, who suddenly discovers rock music. At the beginning of the album, in the first act, we are introduced to the narrator of the album, who tells us of the bad effects of music on man (Central Scrutinizer). We meet Joe, a singer in a band who spends hours in the garage and plays the guitar to the displeasure of the neighbors, who have often called the police to his house (Joe's Garage). Joe becomes a talented guitarist, he falls in love with Mary, a (Catholic Girl) who becomes a groupie of the rock band "Toad-O", she queues after them and sleeps with all the band members on the band bus (Crew Slut), until they leave her in Miami exhausted and destitute. In her attempt to raise money to return home, she participates in a "wet T-shirt" contest (T-Shirt Nite) and when Joe hears about her exploits he sleeps with a waitress named Lucille (Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up) and contracted a sexually transmitted disease from her, but claims he contracted it from the toilet seat (Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?). Joe turns to "Appliantology" (Scientology only one that worships appliances) (A Token of My Extreme). To achieve his sexual satisfaction he comes to the "closet" club where people have sex with home appliances. He falls in love with an expensive robot (Stick It Out) Joe is unable to stop himself and in a sex climax, he destroys the expensive robot (Sy Borg) and cannot pay for the damage. He is subsequently thrown in jail and meets other inmates, some of whom are in jail for music-related offenses (Dong Work for Yuda). Among them he meets John the bold - "King of the Plookers" and then he is raped in prison (Keep It Greasey). When he comes out of prison (Outside Now) he discovers that the music has been banned. He starts dreaming about playing guitar but then his neighbor interrupts his dreaming (He Used to Cut the Grass). Joe also sees in his dream his girlfriend Mary giving a lecture (Packard Goose). He deals with his depression in a kind of guided imagery of a guitar solo he hears in his head (Watermelon in Easter Hay), with the piece serving as a sort of farewell to the music as Joe chooses to move on with his life. In the epilogue song (A Little Green Rosetta), Joe gives up music, plays his imaginary guitar, and gets a "good job" at the "Utility Muffin Research Kitchen" (a reference to Zappa's personal studio). Later The "Central Scrutinizer" gives up the megaphone. He sings the last song on the album in his usual voice and joins a long musical number, when the song becomes chaotic we get the proof that music is dangerous ...

There is no doubt that one of the mesmerizing tracks on this album is "Watermelon in Easter Hay". An amazing segment of over 9 minutes in length, which although relatively repetitive and almost monotonous is particularly moving and absolutely not boring. The full name of the piece is "Playing a Guitar Solo With This Band is Like Trying To Grow a Watermelon in Easter Hay" and at least according to Dweezil Zappa Frank Zappa's son this is the best solo his father ever played.

It is interesting to note that Zappa planned a cinematic version of the concept album in light of the success of the cinematic adaptations of the rock operas "Tommy" and "The Wall", but this did not materialize.

For Listening: Spotify, Apple Music

Follow us on Facebook or Subscribe to our website

"Face/Off" - Israel's Rock Blog & Podcast


Enjoying the Blog? Subscribe to get it right to your mail!

Thank you !!

bottom of page