A reel-to-reel recording of a Frank Zappa lecture at the University of Tennessee on April 28, 1969 has been passed around over the years, and a digitized version was brought to us by another musical adventurer, multi-instrumentalist Brandon Beavers, who came by it a few years ago. (The fan who recorded it on a reel-to-reel tape deck is at this writing unknown, but we bet somebody out there knows.)
In this approximately hour-long talk, he announces the formation of the Clapton-Baker-Winwood project Blind Faith--"It should be pretty swell," Zappa says--and expresses his skepticism of the Beatles ("I prefer the Rolling Stones.") He also thinks if Jimi Hendrix played on accordion or trombone, older folks "could dig it better."
There's a pretty funny interchange between the unnamed humorless proctor of the event, who repeatedly upbraids the overflow crowd of students for smoking in the auditorium, threatening to "stop the program." They bring up campus politics, most of which is a mystery to Zappa; there are jokes about Chancellor Charles Weaver, a target authority figure for UT's counterculture movement--they pass Zappa their "Quotations from Chairman Charlie," which Zappa seems not to know what to do with; and tout Jimmy Baxter, then running to be UT's first black student-government president.
Zappa talks about his record company, Verve, as "just a schmucky company to do business with," and promotes a recent project, with Cynthia Plaster Caster, to preserve casts of rock stars' penises. He makes a few surprisingly counter-counterculture statements, though, suggesting that demonstrating does nothing useful, and that the system can be changed only from within. He suggests students join the ROTC or become attorneys rather than wasting their time carrying signs.
He also mentions his family: yes, he says, in answer to a question, he has a daughter named Moon Unit, and in fact he and his wife were expecting a second child, late that summer; if a boy, Zappa said in Knoxville, he would be named Nylon Argosy. But when it came time, he chose a more sensible name, Dweezil.
Who's playing his dad's music at the Bijou Thursday night.