Don't Eat the Yellow Snow Suite

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"Don't Eat the Yellow Snow"
Single by Frank Zappa
from the album Apostrophe (')
B-side Cosmik Debris
Released August, 1974
Genre Comedy rock, experimental rock, progressive rock
Length 3:26 (single version)
Label DiscReet Records
Writer(s) Frank Zappa
Producer(s) Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa singles chronology
"Cosmik Debris"
(1974)
"Don't Eat The Yellow Snow"
(1974)
"Du Bist Mein Sofa"
(1975)

The "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow Suite" is made up of the first four tracks of Frank Zappa's album Apostrophe ('), "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow", "Nanook Rubs It", "St.Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast", and "Father O'Blivion." Each song in the suite is loosely connected, although the songs are not all connected by one overall story/theme. The suite was only played in full from 1973 to 1974 and 1978 to 1980. "Saint Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast" contains Zappa's percussionist Ruth Underwood on marimba who added a very distinct sound to many of his songs in the early 70s.[1]

Story[edit]

"Don't Eat The Yellow Snow" is a song about a man who dreams that he was an Eskimo named Nanook. His mother warns him "Watch out where the huskies go, and don't you eat that yellow snow."[2] The song directly transitions into "Nanook Rubs It." The song is about Nanook encountering a fur trapper "strictly from commercial" who is whipping Nanook's "favorite baby seal" with a "lead-filled snow shoe." Eventually Nanook gets so mad he rubs husky "wee wee" into the fur trapper's eyes blinding him. According to Zappa this is supposed to replace "The Mud Shark" (a song from the live album Fillmore East – June 1971) in Zappa mythology. Zappa then sings in the fur trapper's perspective. The fur trapper then makes his way to the parish of St. Alfonzo, introducing the next song "St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast." [3] In this song a man attending St.Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast does an assortment of nefarious activities such as stealing the margarine, wheedling on the bingo cards, and blowing up the latrine. The final song in the suite, "Father O'Blivion", is about the man named Father Vivian O'Blivion who makes the pancakes for St.Alfonzo. Randomly the song becomes about a leprechaun who's masturbating in a sock. The leprechaun feels that St.Alfonzo would be proud of him for doing so. Then he utters the Latin phrase "Dominus vobiscum Et cum spiritu tuo (meaning "The Lord be with you. And with your spirit."). Won't you eat my sleazy pancakes just for Saintly Alfonzo." There are many implications why the pancakes are "sleazy"; Zappa leaves them to the listener's interpretation. The suite can only loosely be said to follow a story and is treated as one piece only because of the musical transitions, the way each song introduces the next, and how later songs reference previous songs.[4]

Rollo[edit]

"Rollo" was a piece of music that went along with the original suite, but Zappa decided against putting the whole piece in the album. Instead, he decided to add the main theme of "Rollo" as the instrumental 2nd half of "St. Alphonzo's Pancake Breakfast".[5] The only known recording where the entire suite appears in full is on the live album You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 1, where it is played at Hammersmith Apollo (Hammersmith Odeon), in London, on February 18–19, 1979. The piece by itself also appears on his posthumous album QuAUDIOPHILIAc, and his posthumous live album Imaginary Diseases. The piece itself was written during Zappa's recovery from injuries suffered in December 1971, when he was pushed from the stage at London's Rainbow Theatre by a deranged fan. The original piece had lyrics detailing the adventures of a "Man and a dog" (the dog being named, "Rollo") who encounter a couple in some sort of act of lovemaking. The piece was performed with the vocals during much of Zappa's Grand Wazoo Orchestra tour in September 1972. Sometime after that tour, Zappa decided to drop the lyrics and play it strictly as an instrumental; eventually finding its way into the Yellow Snow suite. In 1978, Zappa resurrected and revised the lyrics (sung by keyboardist Tommy Mars) into the suite. Rollo was performed on October 21, 1978 during Zappa's appearance as host of Saturday Night Live. For the broadcast, Tommy Mars' vocals were modulated via a vocoder to avoid issues with network censors concerning the song's lyrical content. [6]

The Single[edit]

A disc jockey in Pittsburgh edited the album versions of "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" and "Nanook Rubs It" to play on his radio show. While Zappa toured Europe, he learned of this version's success, and decided to create his own edited version once he returned to the United States, and released it as a single.[7] The version released as a single contains some of the album version of "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow", most of "Nanook Rubs It", and the intro to "St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast." The single also appears on Frank Zappa's best-of, Strictly Commercial, which title is taken from the lyrics of the song "Nanook Rubs It."

Track List[edit]

7"

A."Don't Eat The Yellow Snow" – 3:26 (Contains Don't Eat The Yellow Snow, Nanook Rubs it and the intro to St.Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast)
B."Cosmik Debris" – 4:10 [8]

Record Store Day Reissue[edit]

On April 14th, 2014, Zappa Records will release a special limited edition re-issue of the single edit originally released in 1974. This edition will contain an alternate version of the piece 'Down In De Dew' (from Zappa's 1996 posthumous release Läther) as the B-Side. The record sleeve uses a previously rejected cover photo for Apostrophe ('). [9]

References[edit]