15 Memorable Frank Zappa Quotes

Comb through his interviews, writings, and onstage banter, and you’re liable to find a quote for everything under the sun.

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Frank Zappa
Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Frank Zappa has been gone for a few decades now, but we need his rebellious, independent thinking. Comb through his interviews, writings, and onstage banter, and you’re liable to find a quote for everything under the sun.

The buffoonery of conservatives? “Wallowing in blabber and spew, regiments of ex-lawyers and used-car salesmen attempt to distract us from the naughty little surprises served up by deregulated corporate America,” he wrote in his memoir, The Real Frank Zappa Book.

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The censoriousness of liberals? “There is no word, nor any sound that you can make with your mouth, that is so powerful that it will condemn you to the lake of fire,” Zappa stated during an interview featured in the 2016 documentary Eat That Question.

What about a fear of sex? “Bad facts make bad law, and people who write bad laws are, in my opinion, more dangerous than songwriters who celebrate their sexuality,” he proclaimed during a 1985 Senate hearing against the PMRC. (It’s safe to say he would have reiterated this had he heard Cardi B’s and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP.”)

In celebration of the release of ZAPPA, Alex Winter’s highly-anticipated documentary on Frank Zappa, we present a selection of quotes from the man himself. They may have been uttered years ago, but his wit and wisdom is timeless.

15 Memorable Frank Zappa Quotes

1. If you wind up with a boring, miserable life because you listened to your mother, your Dad, your priest, to some guy on television, to any of the people telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it.
(The Real Frank Zappa Book, 1990)

2. The most important thing to do in your life is to not interfere with somebody else’s life.
(The Howard Stern Show, 1987)

3. Communism doesn’t work because it is out of phase with human nature. Are we going to wake up one day to find this statement equally true when applied to the concept of Western democracy?
(The Real Frank Zappa Book, 1990)

4. Definition of rock journalism: People who can’t write, doing interviews with people who can’t think, in order to prepare articles for people who can’t read.
(The Real Frank Zappa Book, 1990)

5. My theory is that the universe is made out of stupidity because it is more plentiful than hydrogen. And since it’s more plentiful, why shouldn’t we talk about it?
(Late Night Special BBC, 1993)

6. In this context, the PMRC demands are the equivalent of treating dandruff by decapitation.
(PMRC Senate Hearing on Rock Lyrics, 1985)

7. This country’s been around for a couple of hundred years, and we think we’re hot shit. We don’t even realize that other countries have thousands of years of history and culture, and they’re proud of it. And when we deal on an international level, you know, with foreign policy and stuff like that, and we try and go in as a big American, strong country and all that stuff, they must laugh up their sleeves at us because we are nothing. We are culturally nothing. We mean nothing. We’re only interested in the bottom line.
(Eat That Question, 2016)

8. Take the Kama Sutra. How many people died from the Kama Sutra as opposed to the Bible? Who wins?
(Late Night Special BBC, 1993)

9. My best advice to anyone who wants to raise a happy, mentally healthy child is: Keep him or her as far away from a church as you can.
(The Real Frank Zappa Book, 1990)

10. Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid.
(The Real Frank Zappa Book, 1990)

11. Taken as a whole, the complete list of PMRC demands reads like an instruction manual for some sinister kind of toilet-training program to housebreak all composers and performers because of the lyrics of a few.
(PMRC Senate Hearing on Rock Lyrics, 1985)

12. You’re 18. Take that spoon out of your nose, take the needle out of your arm, take the beer out of your mouth, and go vote, you know what I mean? Vote. Register and vote like a beast.
(Eat That Question, 2016)

13. In the United States especially, musicians are generally regarded as sort of useless adjuncts to society, unless they do something creative, like write a Coca-Cola jingle, and then they’ll be accepted. But musicians usually are regarded as sort of the scum of the earth, and so if you want to be a musician, you just have to realize before you start that nobody is really going to care.
(Eat That Question, 2016)

14. The essence of Christianity is told to us in the Garden of Eden story. The fruit that was forbidden was on the tree of knowledge. The subtext is, “All the suffering you have is because you wanted to find out what was going on. You could still be in the Garden of Eden if you had just kept your fucking mouth shut and hadn’t asked any questions.”
(Playboy interview, 1993)

15. I don’t think that anybody has ever seen the real Frank Zappa because being interviewed is one of the most abnormal things that you can do to somebody else. It’s two steps removed from the Inquisition.
(Eat That Question, 2016)

Think we missed one of the best Frank Zappa quotes? Let us know in the comments below.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Guy T Pilla

    December 5, 2020 at 9:46 am

    Don’t kid yourself eveyrbody wears a uniform.

  2. Bill Doubleu

    December 5, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    “There will never be a nuclear war between Russia and the U.S. There’s too much real estate involved”

  3. Rev. Willy

    December 5, 2020 at 6:27 pm

    “I ain’t black, but there’s a whole bunch of times I wish I could say I ain’t white either”.

    “If your children knew how lame you were, they would kill you in your sleep”.

  4. Philip Pivovar

    December 8, 2020 at 8:43 pm

    The best FZ quote goes something like this… “What defines art is the frame…without this humble appliance it’s just what is that shit on the wall”. (or something like that)

  5. John P Levell

    February 26, 2021 at 6:55 pm

    You know something people, I’m not black but there’s a whole lot of times I wish I could say I’m not white. Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention Freak-Out 1966

  6. Catherine

    February 28, 2021 at 10:42 pm

    America drinks and goes home.

  7. lezzlie

    March 1, 2021 at 9:48 am

    Rock’n’Roll isn’t a mind expander, it’s a pants expander!

  8. Glenn Taylor

    June 10, 2021 at 5:15 am

    I heard an interview were frank was asked if he thought there were aliens. He said I saw a ufo. Asked if he thought we should reach out to
    aliens? He said man is not too smart and the only thing we can do well is screw things up in a grand huge scale. So he then said
    yes maybe we should go in search for aliens because they will see how screwed up we are and they would destroy us and take us out of our
    misery.

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