Frank Zappa’s “The Adventures of Greggery Peccary” is a perfect example of his genius. It blends elements of Jazz, Classical, spoken word, social commentary, and humor. It was composed in 1972 and released on the album “Studio Tan” in 1978. Zappa was a self taught musician and composer, he played drums, guitar and was a wizard in the recording studio. He was also a producer and film director. Many of his compostions feature lots of percussion like xylophones, and multiple drummers. He was influenced by composer Edgard Varese in particular and also Igor Stravinsky and blues musicians such as Howlin’ Wolf, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, and Doo-Wop vocal groups. Very often Zappa’s music would include complex rhythms with musicians playing in different time signatures. Zappa’s instrumental music such as Bogus Pomp, Revised Music for Low Budget Orchestra and The Grand Wazoo show his talent as a composer. However, he knew that in order to gain some audience recognition, he would have to sometimes include words. Very often he would come across as controversial with songs like Dinah-Moe Humm but underlying those words is some wonderful music. He remains a true American original, a staunch advocate of the First Amendment, and a composer on the level of Charles Ives.
Below is an outline from Wikipedia of this facinating and entertaining work.
Greggery Peccary is a small peccary, and lives among the peccary population, which ranges from Texas to Paraguay and sometimes as far west as Catalina. Peccaries are notable for having a white collar pattern on their fur, but Greggary is part of a “bold new breed” of peccary that also has a wide tie below his collar, distinguishing it as a particularly exceptional swine.
Greggery owns a red Volkswagen and works in the part of the town where the government buildings are kept at a corporation known as “Big Swifty and Associates, Trend-mongers”. As the name suggests, their line of work involves conceiving and promoting the many trends and fads within the world using whatever means science has to offer.
Greggery is popular among the air-headed lady stenographers at his company, who are impressed by Greggery and taken by his suave and particular cunning as an employer. Together they sing a song advertising the company’s many time-wasting products, thus inspiring Greggery to return to his “ultra-avant, laminated, simulated, replica-mahogany desk” so that he may conceive a new trend, some “THING” to identify with. Guided by heavenly voices, he invents the calendar. This is clearly a reference to the Gregorian Calander with ‘Greggery’ a play on Pope Gregory the XIII who reformed the calendar with its introduction.
The calendar, upon release, immediately causes chaos, as people suddenly can keep track of time and plan ahead, thus making life aggravatingly mechanical, and also allowing people to discover how old they were. A group of hunchmen, just a few of the “very hip young people” of the world, attack Greggery on the way home from his office one night, enraged at the prospect of birthdays and being aware of their own aging. Greggery is chased by them in his car, and narrowly escapes into a cave in a conveniently placed and nearby mountain.
The henchmen (and henchwomen) decide to abandon the chase in favour of a “love-in” and a party ensues among them. Greggery is safe from them, but suddenly discovers that he has parked within no ordinary cave, but the mouth of Billy the Mountain. Billy hacks up boulders and creates new brown clouds as he laughs, suddenly procuring Greggery’s interest.
Greggery, unaware that he was parked within Billy the Mountain or that Billy had coughed up the clouds, ponders “who is making those new brown clouds”, and makes a phone call to find a “philostopher” for an explanation of the presence of the brown clouds. He is sent to a man named Quentin Robert DeNameland, supposedly “the greatest living philostopher known to mankind”, who hosts a group assembly. DeNameland’s authenticity as a philostopher is questionable, as he merely proclaims that “time is of affliction” – more specifically, “the eons are closing” – before soliciting for payment for attendance to his assembly.
The adventure closes with Greggery still pondering the presence of the brown clouds, given DeNameland’s lack of answers. Cynically he concludes: “If you ask a “philostopher” he’ll see that you pays!”