Monday, August 06, 2012

Songs That Existed, 1: "I Want A Yacht," Dweezil Zappa.

Mull this thought:

I owned Dweezil Zappa's entire album.

Or at least one of them.  The song I Want A Yacht came out in 1986, according to Wikipedia, and contained 9 songs:

  1. "Havin' a Bad Day" (Zappa, Scott Thunes) 4:09
  2. "Blonde Hair, Brown Nose" (Zappa, Thunes) 3:45
  3. "You Can't Ruin Me" 5:25
  4. "The Pirate Song" 3:51
  5. "You Can't Imagine" 3:14
  6. "Let's Talk About It" 4:05
  7. "Electric Hoedown" 3:24
  8. "I Want a Yacht" (Zappa, Thunes, Gail Zappa) 3:40
  9. "I Feel Like I Wanna Cry" 4:28

I don't remember why I bought the album, although it probably had something to do with the song I Want A Yacht, because I have never

not in 26 years

forgotten the song I Want A Yacht.

At odd times, when I am driving, or sometimes when I am sitting quietly at night, or perhaps other times when maybe I am eating a hamburger, I will remember the couplet:

I want a yacht, bought by you/
nothing less could ever do.
"I Want A Yacht" never hit the billboard charts.  It is not a one-hit wonder or an oddity like that Brand New Key song that for some reason briefly captivated people. 

But it existed, and the fact that this song existed seems to me to say something about society. Or me.  Or Dweezil Zappa.

Or maybe it's that I need the existence of this song -- for once a song exists, it exists forever -- to say something about something, because if I Want A Yacht's existence isn't a commentary on some aspect of life, then it came into existence for no reason whatsoever, and has no meaning at all, and that seems wrong, somehow.

It seems as though we should not live in a world where the song I Want A Yacht could be spontaneously created but have no impact on anything at all, that the song I Want A Yacht could be less meaningful, really, than the life of a single ant, or a drop of rainfall, or one pine needle.  Each of those things serves a purpose, however small.  Can this song be less than that?

It is a song that is less than the sum of its parts, really: A fine guitarist by most standards, and the son of an avant-garde musician, Dweezil Zappa's contributions to writing and playing and singing (?) on this song alone should have merited it some place on a billboard chart.  The addition of then-notable comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, at the time when people were still tolerating his comedy, should have pushed this song into a Pop-Up video or something similar. 

There is a chorus, in the background, of people who shout sometimes.  That seems worth something.

Maybe the song, and its prospects for listeners, and its hopes to have had an impact on the world, to mean something -- something profound or at least danceable-- were dragged down by the vacuum of its lyrics: not just the inanity of the song itself, but the regressive spiral of the meaning of the sparse lyrics.

The singer wants a yacht, bought by the object of... what? His affections?

Is the singer channeling Bobcat Goldthwait?  The beginning phone call suggests that the singer is Bobcat Goldthwait and he is singing to Dweezil Zappa.

But there is that interjecting, vaguely Russian voice that escalates the demands: a yacht, your house, "What else you got?" 

So while the basic lyrics circle around and around and mean nothing, the song is threatening and suggests a man beset by rude-voiced strangers who go from demanding a yacht to demanding everything else.

But all possible conceptions of whatever it is that is going on in this song end up falling to pieces: every imaginary construct ("Maybe it's two people..") disintegrates under the burden that somehow is this song, which in the end is an earworm that will no doubt continue to plague me for decades.

When I am 75, 80, 100 years old, I will rock to myself on the front porch of a house, a chill in the air that sinks into my bones and does not leave.

I want a yacht, bought by you, I shall be remembering, to myself.

Sweetie will touch my arm, and say "What's wrong?"

And I will just shake my head, and not answer, and wonder "Why Alaska?"


Andrew Leon said...

Well, it evidently had an impact on you. Who knows where it will go from here?

PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

I'd rather have a new drug, while we're talking about crappy 80s songs.

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