Not approved by the Central Scrutinizer.
"Hello. This is the Central Scrutinizer."Joe's Garage
is a 1979 Rock Opera
by Frank Zappa
that follows the trials and tribulations of Joe, a guitarist in a world where music has been made illegal. It is told through the eyes of the Central Scrutinizer, who reminds us throughout how music can mess you up. Originally, it was released as two albums: Joe's Garage (Act I)
(a single album) and Joe's Garage (Acts II & III)
(a double album). On CD, the first disc consists of Part I and the first half of Part II, while the second disc contains the rest of the album.
The story starts with the Central Scrutinizer introducing the premise of the tale: this is a government-sponsored album about how music can mess you up. It tells the tale of Joe, who started a rock band as the government was planning to outlaw music, and shows what happened after he got arrested for disturbing the peace. Soon enough, his girlfriend Mary leaves him and turns into a "crew slut" for a band named Toad-O; his priest becomes an MC at a Florida bar; and he contracts an STD from a girl he met named Lucille. With nowhere to go, he eventually turns to the Church of Appliantology
and pays them 50 dollars to learn that he is apparently a latent appliance fetishist
. This in mind, he learns German and dresses up as a housewife before going into a bar called "The Closet" that apparently caters to appliances. After picking one up, he takes it home and ends up breaking it from plooking
it too hard. For this, he is arrested and taken to a special jail for people in the music business, as the government has just enacted a law banning music – a parallel to the real-life banning of music that occured in Iran during the Iranian Revolution, just months before.
While in prison, he is raped
many times by record producers and executives, and when he eventually gets out, has gone somewhat insane; a condition not helped by the fact that music is illegal and therefore he has nothing to do. Instead, he becomes sullen and withdrawn, and decides to "dwindle off into the twilight realm of my own secret thoughts", wherein he dreams of imaginary guitar notes that he knows would irritate all the music executives that tortured him. He continues to wander around town, dreaming of guitar notes, then vocals, then albums and critical reviews, until eventually he realizes that all of the notes only exist in his mind. As such, he goes into his room, plays one last imaginary guitar solo (the penultimate "Watermelon in Easter Hay"), and then hocks his imaginary guitar in order to get a job at the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen (the name of Zappa's recording studio, but in-universe is an actual muffin factory.)
The album closes with the Central Scrutinizer pointing out once again that yes, music can really mess you up, and singing the last song on the album in order to prove it.
As a side note, Zappa changed the titles of "Wet T-Shirt Nite" and "Toad-O Line", to "Fembot in a Wet T-Shirt" and "On the Bus" for the 1987 reissue of the album ("Wet T-Shirt Nite" also got listed as "The Wet T-Shirt Contest" in the included libretto.) The titles have stuck since then.
"Joe's Garage" is a bit of a Broken Base
among fans, with some claiming it's his last "great work" before a long period of lesser albums in the 1980s began. Others point to Sheik Yerbouti
as his final great record and say that "Joe's Garage" actually started
a decline in quality, with more obnoxious voices, bawdy comedy, sparse musical instrumentation and topical Protest Song
material that nowadays is heavily dated. Nevertheless, "Joe's Garage" has some popular fan favorites, including the Title Track
, "Catholic Girls", "Crew Slut" and "Watermelon In Easter Hay".
- "The Central Scrutinizer" (3:28)
- "Joe's Garage" (6:10)
- "Catholic Girls" (4:19)
- "Crew Slut" (6:38)
- "Fembot in A Wet T-Shirt Nite"(4:44)
- "On The Bus" (4:32)
- "Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?" (2:23)
- "Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up" (5:43)
- "Scrutinizer Postlude" (1:35)
- "A Token Of My Extreme" (5:29)
- "Stick It Out" (4:34)
- "Sy Borg" (8:56)
- "Dong Work For Yuda" (5:04)
- "Keep It Greasey" (8:22)
- "Outside Now" (5:49)
- "He Used To Cut The Grass" (8:35)
- "Packard Goose" (11:31)
- "Watermelon In Easter Hay" (9:05)
- "A Little Green Rosetta" (8:15)
- Frank Zappa: vocals, lead guitar
- Warren Cuccurullo: vocals, rhythm guitar
- Denny Walley: vocals, slide guitar
- Ike Willis: lead vocals
- Peter Wolf: keyboards
- Tommy Mars: keyboards
- Arthur Barrow: vocals, guitar, bass
- Patrick O'Hearn: bass
- Ed Mann: percussion, vocals
- Vinnie Colaiuta: drums
- Jeff Hollie: tenor sax
- Earle Dumler: baritone sax
- Bill Nugent: bass sax
- Dale Bozzio: vocals
- Al Malkin: vocals
- Craig Steward: harmonica
The White Zone is for troping and un-troping only. If you have to trope, go to the White Zone. You'll love it. It's a way of life.
- Album Filler: This Rock Opera is a Broken Base among fans. Some people adore it, others feel there is a lot of padding. The plot often goes nowhere and focuses to much on bawdy comedy that doesn't drive the story forward. The long guitar solos on CD 2 have also divided audiences. Some like them, others claim they it's just noodling for the sake of noodling. Zappa's interludes as the Central Scrutinizer also irk some listeners, because when you play the tracks it's always the first thing you have to endure before you get to the music. In the otherwise beautiful "Watermelon in Easter Hay" Zappa's jabbering takes up more than a minute and he even talks over the guitar intro! And then there is the final track, "A Little Green Rosetta", which has nothing to do with the rest of the plot and just seems to be there to go out on a less depressive note.
- All Men Are Perverts: They gangbang groupies, organize wet t-shirt contests, have sex with robots and rape fellow prisoners.
- All There in the Manual: The story is easier to understand if you read the liner notes. This is especially true of the reasoning behind the premise, which is found in said notes.
If the plot of the story seems just a little bit preposterous, and if the idea of "The Central Scrutinizer" enforcing laws that haven't been passed yet makes you giggle, just be glad you don't live in one of the cheerful little countries where, at this very moment, music is either severely restricted . . . or, as it is in Iran, totally illegal.note
- All Women Are Lustful:
And Mary is the kind of red-blooded American girl who'll do anything... I said anything!... for fifty bucks.
- Antiquated Linguistics: The lead vocals in "Dong Work For Yuda", which are an imitation of Zappa's bodyguard John Smothers' strange way of speaking.
- Arc Words:
The White Zone is for loading and unloading only. If you have to load, go to the White Zone. You'll love it. It's a way of life.
- Armoured Closet Gay: Subverted, Joe is told to get 'into the closet' to have sex with a 'plooking' robot.
- Audience Participation: The presenter of "Wet T-Shirt Nite" interacts with the lustful audience.
- Bald of Evil: Bald-Headed John, of course.
- Bawdy Song: "Catholic Girls", "Crew Slut", "Wet T-Shirt Nite" (and its immediate follower "Toad-O Line"), "Stick It Out", "Sy Borg", "Dong Work for Yuda" and "Keep It Greasy".
- Belief Makes You Stupid: In "A Token of My Extreme", Joe joins the cult Appliantology, where he gets worthless advice, but still has to pay a huge sum (50 bucks) for it.
- Big Bad: From the listener's perspective, it's the Central Scrutinizer. However, in-universe, music itself (and to a lesser extent Joe) is the big bad of the story.
- Bigger Is Better in Bed: Bald-Headed John. Inverted, as he's the one who rapes Joe and the whole point of "Dong Work for Yuda" is that it will hurt.
- Bilingual Bonus: The first part of "Stick It Out" is sung in Gratuitous German. The English translation immediately follows it.
- Black Comedy Rape: See Prison Rape.
- Body Paint: Zappa's face is painted black on the cover.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: During the wet T-shirt contest:
Ike Willis: "I know you want someone to show you some tits. Big ones...wet ones...big wet ones!"
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Happens a few times on the album.
"Packard Goose": "If you're in the audience and like what we do / Well, we want you to know that we like you all too"
"A Little Green Rosetta": "And if this doesn't convince you that MUSIC causes BIG TROUBLE . . . then maybe I should turn off my plastic megaphone and sing the last song on the album in my regular voice . . ."
And we've flown in, at great expense, (triple scale, no less, ladies and gentlemen), Steve Gadd's clone to play the out-chorus on this song . . . he's really outasite, in spite of the fact that the click track is totally irrelevant to what he's doing right now. I'm listening to the click, yes I'm suffering with the click track right now . . . this guy is totally out of sync with it, but what the fuck.
- Broken Record:
- "The white zone is for loading and unloading only. If you gotta load or unload go to the white zone".
- "Joe's Garage"
And the same old chords goin' over 'n' over
Became a symphony
We would play it again 'n' again 'n' again
'Cause it sounded good to me
ONE MORE TIME!
We could jam in Joe's Garage
His mama was screamin' "TURN IT DOWN!"
We was playing' the same old song
In the afternoon 'n' sometimes we would
Play it all night long
It was all we knew, and easy too
So we wouldn't get it wrong
Even if you played it on a saxophone
- Butt Monkey: Joe, in a literal sense, in "Dong Work for Yuda".
- Call Back and Continuity Nod:
- The lines "The White Zone is for loading and unloading only. If you got to load or unload, go to the White Zone" are heard all throughout the album, during "The Central Scrutinizer", "Joe's Garage", "A Token of My Extreme" and "He Used to Cut the Grass".
- Mrs. Crabgrass can be heard near the end of the song "Joe's Garage" and "He Used to Cut the Grass".
- Mary is from Canoga Park, a location also mentioned during "Billy The Mountain" from Just Another Band From L.A. (1972) and one of the constellations mentioned on the album cover of One Size Fits All (1975).
- The line "What is that? Musk?" in "Packard Goose" is a reference to "Dental Hygiene Dilemma" from 200 Motels.
- The lines "Hear the steam, See the steam, Hear the steaming hot black screaming, Iridescent naugahyde python gleaming steam roller") from "Stick It Out" are a throwback to "Latex Solar Beef" from Zappa's Fillmore East, June 1971.
- In "Crew Slut" and "Sy Borg" a thing that "looks just like a TeleFunken U-47" is mentioned.
- The line "That looks like that stuff Freckles lets out once a month" in "Dong Work For Yuda" would later reappear during "Won Ton On" from "Thing-Fish" (1985).
- A "magical pig", named Squat, is mentioned during "Stick It Out" and "Sy Borg".
- The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen in "A Little Green Rosetta" is a throwback to "Muffin Man" from Bongo Fury.
- The robot with whom Joe has intercourse "looks like a cross between a vacuum cleaner and a chrome piggy bank". Vacuum cleaner imagery appeared earlier on albums like Hot Rats (1969), Chunga's Revenge (1970), Two Hundred Motels (1971) and One Size Fits All (1975).
- Sex dolls appear in "Stick It Out" and "Sy Borg", a subject Zappa touched before with "Ms. Pinky" on Zoot Allures (1976) and would use again with "Artificial Rhonda" on Thing-Fish (1985). An inflatable sex doll is also used in his film Baby Snakes (1979).
- Chrome, a popular thing in Zappa's lyrics, can be heard here again:
- During "A Token of My Extreme": "That looks like it's a cross between an industrial vacuum cleaner and a chrome piggy bank with marital aids stuck all over its body..."
- During "Stick It Out": "See the chrome, feel the chrome"
- "Sy Borg":
This is exciting, I never plooked a tiny chrome-plated machine...
- "Packard Goose": The liner notes mention that "enormous flabby short cloth neck ornaments" work their "hidden chrome snap attachments" as they resurge in the direction of the White Zone seeking snack material near the Utensil Shrines of Greater America.
- "Leather", mentioned during "Crew Slut" ("I'm into leather...") and "Sy Borg" ("Little leather cap and trousers") is a conceptual continuity example mentioned earlier in Zappa's work, during Carolina Hard-Core Ecstasy (Plastic leather 14 triple D.) from Bongo Fury (1975) and Broken Hearts Are For Assholes and We Gotta Get Into Something Real from Sheik Yerbouti (1979). The 1996 album Lather continues this Running Gag.
- The entire monologue from the end of "Dancin' Fool" from Sheik Yerbouti (1979) is repeated again near the end of "Stick It Out". The phrase "What's a girl like you doing in a place like this?" was used earlier during "Flower Punk" on We're Only in It for the Money (1968) and "What Kind of Girl Do You Think We Are?" from Fillmore East, June 1971 (1971).
- "Make way for the iron sausage" in "Dong Work for Yuda", references the "night of the iron sausage" in "The Torture Never Stops" from Zappa's Zoot Allures (1976). Sausage imagery also appeared during "St. Alphonso's Pancake Breakfast" on Apostrophe (') (1974).
- "On the Bus" evokes tour bus imagery, as happened before on "A Pound for a Brown on the Bus" from Uncle Meat (1969) and "Hah! Good God! Get off the bus!" in "St. Alphonso's Pancake Breakfast" from Apostrophe (') (1974).
- A frenzy is mentioned at the start of "Watermelon in Easter Hay". Frenzies were referenced earlier on the albums Over-Nite Sensation (1973) (during "Dirty Love"), Apostrophe (') (1974) (during "Father O' Blivion"), Zappa In New York (1978) (during "Honey Don't You Want a Man Like Me?") and You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Volume 4 (1991) ((during "Smell My Beard")
- Joe sings "Oh No, I don't believe it!", a throwback to "Oh No" from Lumpy Gravy (1968) and Weasels Ripped My Flesh (1969)
- The line "Beauty is a French phonetic corruption of a short cloth neck ornament currently in resurgence." in "Packard Goose" refers to a bow-tie, imagery that appeared before in Zappa's music, most notably "Bow-Tie Daddy" from We're Only in It for the Money (1968).
- "Sounds like an elegant gypsy" in "Packard Goose" refers to gypsy imagery that appeared earlier in Zappa's work, like "Who Needs The Peace Corps?" from We're Only in It for the Money (1968) and "Gypsy Mutant Vacuum Cleaner" from Chunga's Revenge (1970).
- Joe is locked up in prison, imagery that appeared before in Zappa's work on "Concentration Moon" and "The Chrome Plated Megaphone Of Destiny" from We're Only in It for the Money (1968) and with the prisoners in "The Torture Never Stops" from Zoot Allures (1976).
- Zappa's painted face recalls "Harry You're A Beast" from We're Only in It for the Money and "She Painted Up Her Face" from Two Hundred Motels.
- Catholic School Girls Rule: "Catholic Girls", an entire song dedicated to this trope.
- Church Of Appliantology: Joe visits it and ends up paying fifty dollars to L. Ron Hoover for his consultation.
- Comically Cross Eyed: It's explained in the liner notes that Mary has gone cross-eyed dumb from an extended period of time solely performing sexual favours for men.
- Concept Album: A Rock Opera about a the tragic life of a rock musician who goes from one disappointment into another, eventually waking up in a society prohibiting music.
- Crapsack World: The liner notes refer to Total Criminalization, the idea of making every person on Earth more uniform (and therefore more criminal) by making them all criminals. In the backstory, this meant making an increasing amount of laws so that anyone could commit a crime at any possible time. The Reality Subtext is that this process is already happening in our world, and that music could very well be on the chopping block in the future.
- Creator Cameo: Zappa is the voice of the Central Scrutinizer.
- Creepy Monotone: The Central Scrutinizer talks like this most of the time.
- Corpsing: Zappa clearly finds the word "plooking" hilarious. Every time he says it he cracks up.
- Corrupt Church: The First Church of Appliantology is basically demanding fees for giving pretty worthless advice. Father Riley B. Jones in "Dong Work For Yuda" also sings songs to the other prisoners, while some of them are gangraped by other men. And the Catholic Girls in "Catholic Girls" are apparently not that chaste.
- Dedication: "A Little Green Rosetta" is dedicated to the people of France, Spain, Mongolia, the Third World, the Fourth World and Taiwan.
- Downer Ending: Joe gives up at the end, and simply retreats into his room so he can play one last imaginary guitar solo before he comes back to sanity and gets a job at the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen.
- Embarrassing Nickname: "Bald-Headed John, King of the Plookers".
- Epic Rocking: "Packard Goose" (11:34) is the longest example, but much of the album counts, including "Sy Borg" (8:56), "Keep It Greasey" (8:22), "He Used to Cut the Grass" (8:35), "Watermelon In Easter Hay" (9:09), and "A Little Green Rosetta" (8:15).
- Evil Laugh: The Central Scrutinizer at the start of "Water Melon In Easter Hay".
- Face on the Cover: Zappa with black paint on his face.
- Fading into the Next Song: The Central Scrutinizer links everything together.
- Fake Memories:
Poor Joe, he’s getting tired of bending over. But we tried to warn him... didn't we?
- Flat "What.": Happens in "A Token of My Extreme".
Joe: "Are you telling me I should come out the closet now, Mr. Ron?"
L. Ron Hoover: "No my son, you must go INTO THE CLOSET!"
L. Ron Hoover: "And you will have..."
L. Ron Hoover: "... a lot of fun!"
- Gainax Ending: The album ends with Joe being jailed and freed, only to discover music has been banned. Then he becomes a factory worker. Which prompts Zappa, out of nowhere, to start a silly song called "A Little Green Rosetta", which breaks the fourth wall and the entire concept of the album completely and has nothing to do with the rest of the plot. Thus closes the album.
- Garage Band and Garage Rock: Joe's band.
- Groupie Brigade: "Crew Slut", "Toad-O Line" and Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?" deals with groupies.
- Heroic Sacrifice: To prove just how damaging music can be, the Central Scrutinizer actually turns off his plastic megaphone and sings the final song on the album. The performance quickly devolves from jubilation into outright insanity.
- Humans Are Bastards: See Crapsack World.
- Humiliation Conga: In a way, the whole ''album'' is this for Joe. He gets an STD from a groupie, joins a cult, gets arrested for breaking a robot he was having sex with, gets gangraped in prison and when leaves jail society has banned music, causing him to become a factory worker.
- Incredibly Lame Pun:
- "Wet T-Shirt Nite": "Here at the Brasserie... home of the tits, huh-huh!"
- The song "Toad-O Line" (credited in the libretto as a performance by Toad-O, a Toto parody) quotes the melody from Toto's hit "Hold the Line".
- "A Token of My Extreme":
Don't you be tarot-fied...
- Appliantology, which is not even a good pun on Scientology.
- "Packard Goose": "Beauty is a French phonetic corruption of a short cloth neck ornament currently in resurgence . . ." (Note: a pun on "bow-tie").
- Intercourse with You: "Crew Slut", "Stick It Out", and (in a much creepier variant) "Keep It Greasey".
- "Wet T-Shirt Nite" is a borderline example.
- Lack of Empathy: The Central Scrutinizer finds Joe's demise funny.
- Lampshading: "A Little Green Rosetta":
Because this is a stupid song AND THAT'S THE WAY I LIKE IT
- Medium Awareness: Exhibited in "Sy Borg":
But I can't pay
I gave all my money
To some kinda groovy
Two songs ago...
- Mundane Made Awesome: Wet t-shirt contests ("Wet T-Shirt Nite"), male Prison Rape ("Keep It Greasy") and working in a muffin factory ("A Little Green Rosetta") are topics and actually pretty catchy songs.
Because this is a stupid song... AND THAT'S THE WAY I LIKE IT
- My Girl Is a Slut: Lucille is one. Also, Mary, although Joe refuses to believe this.
- My Girl Is Not a Slut: Joe thinks this about Mary.
- New Sound Album: Compared to the more musically colorful and fully orchestrated albums Zappa made in the past the sound is more sparse, with Zappa carrying on with the xenochrony he introduced on One Size Fits All (1975), but here used to full effect. This was also the first album where Zappa's guitar solos became much, much longer and more prominent.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed:
- L. Ron Hoover and his Church of Appliantology reference L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology.
- The group Toad-O is a thinly disguised jab at the rock band Toto, best known for "Hold the Line" (1979) and "Africa" (1983).
- Obligatory Bondage Song: "Sy Borg" has the line: "How's about some bondage and humilitation?".
- One Man Song: "Joe's Garage".
- One Woman Song: "Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up".
- Overly Long Title: "Watermelon in Easter Hay" was originally titled: "Playing a Guitar Solo with This Band Is Like Trying to Grow a Watermelon in Easter Hay" when Zappa introduced it during his Star Special radio appearance on BBC Radio 1 in 1980.
- Paused Interrupt:
'Poor Joe, he’s getting tired of bending over. But we tried to warn him ... didn't we?
- Police Brutality: The band is arrested for noise pollution on orders of Officer Butzis.
- The Power Of Music:
Information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, wisdom is not truth, truth is not beauty, beauty is not love, love is not music, music is the best!
- Prison Rape: "Dong Work for Yuda" and "Keep It Greasey" are all over this. Also, to a lesser extent, "Outside Now".
- Product Placement: A Dodge car, Fender Stratocaster and Beatle Boots are mentioned during the title track. Ronald McDonald from McDonalds is mentioned during "Packard Goose".
- Protest Song: In "Packard Goose" Zappa lashes out against music critics.
- Pun-Based Title: "A Token of My Extreme" instead of "a token of my esteem".
- Raging Stiffie: "Stick It Out".
Stick it out, your hot curly weenie
- Real Life Writes the Plot:
- Zappa too was once jailed for "conspiracy to make pornography" (just a tape full of sex noises) and spent much of his prison time imagining guitar solos in his cell.
- Zappa regularly traveled by plane and while waiting in the lobbies of many American airports he would hear the announcement "The White Zone is for loading and unloading only. If you got to load or unload go to the White Zone!" over and over again. (For non-American readers: this phrase informs passengers and travellers that they can load or unload luggage in the white curb of the airport.) One can imagine how tedious listening to the mind numbing pointless phrase could get. Zappa included it during many songs on this album.
- The plot of this Concept Album about a society where music is made illegal was directly inspired by the 1979 coup in Iran by ayatollah Khomeini. During a radio broadcast aired on July 23rd, 1979, Khomeini called for a ban on any form of music, however no specific law was edicted at the time. Khomeini said: "Music should not be broadcast over the radio and television. Music is something that everybody is attracted to naturally, but it takes them out of reality to a futile and lowly livelihood. Like opium, music also stupefies persons listening to it and makes their brain inactive and frivolous." It was only some months later that the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, adopted by referendum, granted the Leader full power to appoint and dismiss the head of the Radio and Television (Chapter XII [Article 175]). Zappa even mentions this fact in the liner notes of the album.
- "Dong Work For Yuda" is full of inside jokes and anecdotes regarding Frank's then bodyguard John Smothers and his strange way of talking. His wife Freckles is referenced too. In a 1990 interview with Zappa named "They're Doing the Interview of the Century, Part 3" he explained:
Once upon a time, on his first trip to Copenhagen, we were playing at a place called the Falkoner Center (...) and we didn't have a limousine. I had to take a cab to the place. We get in the car. It's just this little tiny car, (laughter) not a Fiat, but maybe, slightly larger than a Fiat. You know how big John is (...) and it's a cab, and the driver is Danish, and he doesn't speak English. I get in the back, and John gets in the front, and the cab driver is just sittin' there, 'cause he doesn't know where to go, and John finally realizes that he must tell the driver where to go, so, he just turns to him, and goes, "FALCUM." (laughter), and the guy looks at him, y'know, kinda lookin' up like this, and John goes, "FALCUM." (...) and the guy DOESN'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON! And then, John gets vehement. He goes, "TAKE ME TO THE FALCUM!
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "Packard Goose", a huge Take That aimed at rock journalists and critics.
- Repurposed Pop Song: "Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up" was originally a song from a 1969 album by Jeff Simmons, produced by Zappa himself.
- Ripped from the Headlines: The basic premise was inspired by Iran making rock music illegal during the Iranian Revolution.
- Robosexual: The entire Church Of Appliantology seems to be built around this trope, and Joe becomes one on advice from L. Ron Hoover. It ends up getting him thrown into jail.
- Self-Deprecation /Take That, Audience!: "A Little Green Rosetta":
They're pretty good musicians
But it don't make no difference
If they're good musicians
Because anybody who would buy this record
Doesn't give a fuck if there's good musicians on it
Because this is a stupid song
AND THAT'S THE WAY I LIKE IT
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Joe is told to stick closer to "church-oriented social activities" when he is first arrested for playing rock music.
- Buddy Jones also gets a good one in on "Wet T-Shirt Nite":
Our big prize tonite is fifty American Dollars to the girl with the most exciting mammalian protruberances . . . as viewed through a thoroughly soaked, stupid looking white sort of male person's conservative kind of middle-of-the-road COTTON UNDERGARMENT! Whoopee! And here comes THE WATER!
- Sexy Soaked Shirt: "Wet T-Shirt Nite"
Now the girls are excited because they're wet
And the boys are delighted because all them titties will get them upset
- "Joe's Garage" quotes from "Nite Owl" by Doowop band The Champs & Tony Allen.
- "Catholic Girls" refers to "Catholic boys" and namedrops Warren Cuccurullo and Vinnie Colaiuta, two of Zappa's at-the-time current band members. Warren ends up getting namedropped throughout the album.
- In "Sy Borg" the robot sings he'll go "aaaaalll the waaaaay!" This is a reference to Frank Sinatra's song "All The Way". In the same song he also claims Joe is "pushin' too hard, pushin' too hard on me", which is a reference to "Pushin' Too Hard" by The Seeds.
- In the liner notes for "Outside Now" the following line can be read: "And sure enough JOE dreams up a few of those guitar notes that every executive despises: those low ones. Every exec knows it's only the records with the high squeally ones that get to be hits, except for Duane Eddy."
- In "A Little Green Rosetta," Zappa references both "Jamming" by Bob Marley and "I'm The Japanese Sandman" by Doowop band The Cellos. He also mentions Steve Gadd, at the time one of the highest paid session drummers of all time:
Hey! And we've flown in, at great expense - triple scale, no less, ladies and gentlemen. Steve Gadd's clone to play the out-chorus on this song. He’s really outa-site, in spite of the fact that the click track is totally irrelevant to what he's doing now. I’m listening to the click, yes I'm suffering with the click track right now. This guy is totally out of sync with it, but what the fuck! Ed Mann will call him up later, show him the sign.
- "Watermelon in Easter Hay" was used over the end credits of Y Tu Mamá También (2001).
- Singer Name Drop: Band members Warren Cuccurullo and Vinnie Colaiuta are mentioned in "Catholic Girls", while "A Little Green Rosetta" mentions Ed Mann.
- Spoken Word in Music: The Central Scrutinizer narrates the story. The shouting by Mrs. Borg and police officer Butzis are also spoken. The song "Wet T-Shirt Nite" is more or less a spoken word sketch, with some singing narration.
- Start of Darkness: The Central Scrutinizer presents the title track as such.
- STD Immunity: Averted with Lucille and Joe in "Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?"
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: Between all the comedy songs about rock bands, male prison rape and sex with robots, "Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up" is a quite sweet love song and "Watermelon In Easter Hay" is a moving, tragic guitar solo.
- Take That: This album pokes fun at rock bands, heavy metal, glitter rock, disco, new wave, the music industry, catholic girls, groupies, Scientology (under the disguise of Appliantology), the government, the band Toto (referred to as "Toad-O"), music censorship, rock critics and journalists, punk and Zappa's bodyguard John Smothers.
- Take That, Critics!: Zappa didn't have a high opinion of rock 'n roll critics. He famously said: "Rock journalism is people who can't write, interviewing people who can't talk, in order to provide articles for people who can't read." In his autobiography, ''The Real Frank Zappa Book", he also devoted a few lines about the inaneness of most critics and argued that somebody may like an album, even if someone gave it a bad review. Zappa himself was a good example, because he discovered his main musical inspiration Edgard Varèse thanks to a horrible review in a magazine and felt he had to check it out, just because of that. "Packard Goose" is a pointed attack at rock 'n' roll journalists.
Well, fuck all them people, I don't need no excuse
For being what I am
Do you hear me, then?
All them rock 'n' roll writers is the worst kind of sleaze
Selling punk like some new kind of English disease
Is that the wave of the future? Aw, spare me please!
Oh no, you gotta go
Who do you write for, I wanna know?
I believe you is the government's whore
And keeping peoples dumb (I'm really dumb)
Is where you're coming from
And keeping peoples dumb (I'm really dumb)
Is where you're coming from
Fuck all them writers with the pen in their hand
I will be more specific so they might understand
They can all kiss my ass but because it's so grand
They best just stay away
- Title Track: "Joe's Garage"
We could jam at Joe's garage!
- Toilet Humour: "Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?"
I got it from the toilet seat
It jumped right up and grabbed my meat
- Too Dumb to Live: Mary in "Crew Slut" has no idea what kind of "present" the boys in the crew have for her. In "Wet T-Shirt Nite", she's not particularly bright either. It's explained in the liner notes that she's gone cross-eyed dumb from an extended period of time solely performing sexual favours for men.
- Uncommon Time: Despite the outlandish "everything" on the album, there exist several showcase pieces throughout, both for Zappa's fantastic guitar solos, as well as the band's virtuosic performances. "Wet T-Shirt Nite" bravely showcases a complex musical passage between its verses, while "Keep It Greasy" goes through a full multitude of time signature changes. In the finale, Zappa gets drummer Vinnie Colaiuta to play two bars of a 5/8 beat in the same space as a 4/4 bar. It's impressive that he manages to keep it up for a full minute.
- Unusual Euphemism:
- "Plooking". Especially in the first lyric of "Outside Now":
These executives have plooked the fuck out of me.
- And then there is this gem from "Crew Slut":
It looks just like a Telefunken U-47.
- Urine Trouble: "Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?" addresses the fact that Joe has caught an STD from a groupie, which makes urinating painful.
Why does it hurt when I pee?
I don't want no doctor to stick no needle in me
- Waxing Lyrical: During "Sy Borg" Joe is having sex with a robot, but gets too excited, causing the robot to malfunction and shout: "You're plooking too hard! Plooking too hard on me!" This is a reference to the 1966 song "Pushin' Too Hard" by The Seeds.
- What's an X Like You Doing in a Y Like This??: Phrase heard during "Sy Borg".
- Wolf Whistle: Can be heard several times during "Wet T-Shirt Nite", including one made by a guitar.
- Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: Father Riley goes from being a Catholic priest at the start of the story ("Catholic Girls") to an MC at a Bikini Bar ("Wet T-Shirt Nite") to being the chaplain at the prison Joe is sent to ("Dong Work For Yuda").
Information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, wisdom is not truth, truth is not beauty, beauty is not love, love is not music, music is the best!