Graduation Year


Publication Date

Spring 2019


The author was interviewed by Jon Norton on the June 10, 2019 WGLT segment "What's on Your Turntable?"


Throughout his career, American composer Frank Zappa (1940-1993) expounded the potency of music in regard to the medium’s inherent ability to enact critical assessments of society. Zappa’s music exemplified many new possibilities in popular music that have influenced generations of musicians to push the boundaries of the media format. In the context of the Counterculture of the 1960s, Zappa utilized his initial, experimental rock albums, Freak Out! (1966), Absolutely Free (1967), and We’re Only in It for the Money (1968), with his band, The Mothers of Invention, to demonstrate his vision for the United States during the 1960s and beyond. Although Zappa critiqued the country throughout his life, he never deviated far from what he expressed so explicitly within these three albums. Zappa employed his early musical output to lambaste conformist aspects of the United States in the 1950s and the resultant society, culture, politics, and music of the following decade, as well as to propound and to exemplify his individualist ideals in order to combat elements of conformity in the nation. This work focuses on the arguably most important period of Zappa, and expands upon the existing concepts and insufficient analyses of his early music.



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