Plastic People – Frank Zappa

Frank’s early satirical look at America from 1966. His view of the consumerist society was that it was all superficial – plastic. There was no substance to it.

This was certainly groundbreaking in 1966.

“Plastic People”

Ladies & Gentelmen . . . the PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES!

Fella Americans . . .
DOOT, DOOT, DOOT . . . DOOT . . .
He’s been sick.
(Teet-Teet . . . Teet-Teet . . . Teet-Teet . . . Teet-Teet-Teet)
And I think his wife is gonna bring him some chicken soup.
DOOT, DOOT (Teet-Teet)

Plastic people
Oh baby, now . . .
You’re such a drag

(I know it’s hard to defend an unpopular policy every once in a while . . . )

Plastic people
Oh baby, now
You’re such a drag

(And there’s this guy from the CIA and he’s creeping around Laurel Canyon . . . )

A fine little girl
She waits for me
She’s as plastic
As she can be
She paints her face
With plastic goo
And wrecks her hair
With some shampoo

Plastic people
Oh baby, now
You’re such a drag

(I dunno . . . sometimes I just get tired of ya, honey . . . it’s – Ah – your hair spray . . . or something.)

Plastic people
Oh baby!
You’re such a drag

(I hear the sound of marching feet . . . down Sunset Blvd. to Crescent Heights, and there, at Pandora’s Box, we are confronted with . . . a vast quantity of PLASTIC PEOPLE.)

Take a day
And walk around
Watch the nazis
Run your town
Then go home
And check yourself
You think we’re singing
‘Bout someone else . . . but you’re

Plastic people!
Oh baby, now . . .
You’re such a drag

Ooo-Ooo-Ooo Ooo-Ooo-Ooo Ooo-Ooo-Ooo Ooooooooh!

Me see a neon
Moon above
I searched for years
I found no love
I’m sure that love
Will never be
A product of
A product of
A product of

A prune is a vegetable . . . no, a prune is not a vegetable. Cabbage is a vegetable . . . makes it O.K. PLASTIC PEOPLE . . . PLASTIC PEOPLE, PLASTIC PEOPLE!
Ooo-Hoo-Hoo . . . Ooo-ooh-ooh-ooh Hoo-Hoo
Ooh-ooh Ooh-Hoo-Hoo-Hoo

You are. Your foot. Your hair. Your nose. Your arms. You eat. You suck. You love. You are. Your being is . . . you’re PLASTIC . . . PEOPLE . . . BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH . . . plastic pepples . . . [?]
You drive. You live in. You dream about . . . you think only of . . . you eat . . . you are . . . pepples . . . plastic . . . plastic pepples . . .
Purple prancing. Plastic people. Every pepples . . .

Peep-peep Pee-pee-pee-pee-pee-pee-pee-pee-peep!


16 thoughts on “Plastic People – Frank Zappa

  1. You write stuff as if the world never existed before 1966. You know seemingly nothing about the jazz world of the 1920’s, the soundtracks of the 1930’s, the music hall and be-bop era of the 1940’s and the countless millions of records sold in the 1950’s with lyrics questioning all manner of facets of our lives.
    This song wasn’t remotely groundbreaking as you so do believe. Tut, tut.

      1. An opinion? Are you kidding me? Are you seriously questioning the depth to the truth of the matter? Didn’t my brief comment trigger a n y t h i n g for you? Lol.
        Let’s just say you have a LOT of catching up to do.

      2. And you, as the epitome of arrogance, have a lot of growing up to do. Rudeness is so childish. If you have some great examples to offer then go ahead. Elucidate us.
        The type of political satire I’m referring to with Frank was very refreshing at the time. I am aware that there was much before it in other fields but In the medium of Rock Frank was certainly at the forefront.

  2. Oh, come off it. It’s your blatant arrogance of matter of fact opinion that is at fault here. It’s not any elucidation that you need, rather an education.
    And there you go, conveniently back-peddling to grasp any credibility.
    You also very evidently confuse “Satire” with “Parody”. They are not the same thing at all.
    Frank Zappa could hardly be called a “Rock” artist, he couldn’t be further removed, in fact. He was must closer to a latent retro-Doo-Wop act in 1966. “Rock”, he was not.
    I see this kind of thing all too often these days on blogs. Bad information spewed with conviction. It really makes for grim reading.
    Zappa was of the nature of the most obvious satire – one need not possess any grey matter to work that out. It was a case of “and here’s our political-heavy-duty-social-comment number…”.
    You need to rewind back forty-five years to the 1920’s, as far as recordings exist of this nature and check out – from my instant recollection without even thinking about it – Mamie Smith from 1920 and onwards, Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers’ “White House Blues” of 1926, any many songs by George & Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Moss Hart, George S. Kaufman, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Sam Cooke, Phil Ochs – there must be hundreds of others – all before Zappa, many by a country mile.

    It’s also strange, don’t you think, that you have willingly included clear reference to Frank’s jibe at the CIA-Laurel Canyon activities, despite blowing raspberries at a most educated and informed post on that very subject made just a few weeks ago. You are an odd fellow, aren’t you. A bit like the weather – zero consistency. The Michael Fish of blogs.

    1. Oh – so you are now comparing Charlie Poole to Frank Zappa – as if the type of satire is in any way similar. Then Gershwin, Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Woody Guthrie and Sam Cooke – as if they are in any way comparable to the social satire performed by Frank Zappa – nothing like!!
      I am well familiar with the work of all of these people and if you really think there is any comparison – no really?? Is that the best you can come up with?

      1. I’ll let everyone else be the judge of whether there is any connection between Frank’s Experimental social satire and the political songs of Charlie Poole. Much as I love Charlie Poole, Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan I do not find any similarity in style or content.

        It seems to me that you’re the one spewing our false information.

        Frank was doing something quite unique. It wasn’t just the kind of social comment found in the songs you mention.

  3. I’ve got to admire your arrogance of ignorance.
    As I said, you’re confused over Satire versus Parody. Frank did Parody more than he ever did Satire. Maybe you don’t know his stuff too well and got stuck at first base in 1966. Do check out his umpteen songs taking the complete piss out of many other musicians – not necessarily in his band, of course – over the course of his career, many of which are probably far too subtle for the general listener to ever recognise to whom he was referring to. I needn’t list them as I’m absolutely certain that you’ll know them all off-pat.
    It would also appear that you have invented for yourself some sort of from-to scale that clarifies for you to what degree level any amount of said Satire/Parody (we’re still not too sure which is which, are we?) attains. How sweet.
    What you forget is the differences in political temperature. In 1926 that could have got you a jail term in some States. Do read up on matters of history of legislation regarding civil liberties and this would be a great help to your understanding of that.
    Had Charlie Parker been black, he’d have been publicly horse-whipped and never heard of again.

    No, did you really expect to find the exact same commentary from song-to-song, 1926-1966 by different artists from completely different social worlds? Really? Does it have to be so A-B-C for you to distinguish the differences? Isn’t the power of suggestion suffice enough for your understanding and subsequent conclusion?
    Did you really conclude that Zappa said anymore than Charlie Poole? Really?

    What do you mean by others? Who else is here but you… and just me. Can’t you stand on your own two feet? You really need others as support? Are your powers of convictions to what you thought you believed that shaky? Seems to be, eh? Lol.
    Did you really need to go find a youtube file to remind yourself of what you were attempting to talk about? Lol. But hey, “others” may listen, too. Lol.

    I also see we’re keeping stuum about that CIA/Laurel Canyon double entendre? Why would that be? What’s the point? Once one’s credibility is lost it may never be regained, so it may as well be out in the open and fully exposed and espoused as the absolute truth of the matter. Yes, Lauren Canyon was entirely that of a CIA experiment.
    Just ask Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg (no reflection of their own sexual relationship, you understand), William S. Burroughs (nor his), Tom Wolfe, Neal Cassady and Ken Kesey. They’ll tell you.

    Oh, the arrogance of ignorance is really no excuse, is it? Lol.

      1. Of course Poole not Parker – the subliminal thoughts of US racism caught up with my digits. But is that all you can counter-point with?
        Therefore, by all intents and purposes, you concede this debate.
        This pleases me no end as I never lose a debate. Lol.

        Information is king. Try and remember that for any future entanglements you may have with these mystery “others”.

        I think you’ll be quite able to find enough information contained within contemporary interviews of the “dead guys”. What a cheap remark that is. Add The Grateful Dead to that list (or as they were formerly known as The Warlocks) and you’ll easily find lots of commentary from Jerry Garcia and other members of the pre-1969 Merry Prankster crew. However, in particular, your best bet is Ken Kesey for he was a volunteer on one of the many CIA-managed LSD experiments in California and he had a great deal to say about that and of course it’s subsequent liberal distribution by the CIA. I’m not referring to Kesey’s novels, but his interviews whether in print or on film. Another source of information is Dr. Timothy Leary, although he was originally an advocate for the non-liberal distribution of LSD, as he considered it to be a most dangerous substance. He was an FBI informer and a complete fraud. He’d hold these “Tune-In-Turn-On-Drop-Out” seminars for all these Californian hippy-loser type kids, meanwhile taking the names of those supplying the non-CIA supply of LSD. Talk about a generation completely hoodwinked by the Man. There it is. But of course, a few weeks back that info blew your little toy-psychedelic bubble into shreds as far as I could tell. And here we are posting up a song that makes reference to it, like we knew all along! What a change of direction! Oh, the innocence of naivety! How sweet is is!
        Christ, talk about a brass neck? You’ve for sure got some front, I’ll say that.
        We are most amused.

  4. Of course a consumerist society is not superficial as it creates millions of jobs. That’s really not what Frank was saying. Not all, but some facets are, such as wasting money supporting totally corrupt political organisations and TV advertising for dancing chickens and snake-oil salesmen and the like, so there’s a big difference. He himself spent his life in the basement of his house buying in recording equipment and making tapes, so I’d judge that as acutely superfluous and plastic. He must have been one of AFGA tapes top buyers.

    1. David – I don’t see how you can possibly say that being creative is superfluous. I can’t think of anything better to do with ones life than to be creative.
      in terms of the ‘Plastic people’ they are the ones who fit in the mold – do everything to fit in, paint their faces and go on appearance but have no substance, no views. They are in the rut. Their life is vacuous.
      Give me creativity and freedom any day.

      1. Yes, but the music business is a very bad example, it’s greedy, vacuous and benefits only the few on the receiving end of the financial income. Who in fact was Frank feeding the lion’s share to? Corporate investors and share-holders, that’s who. You should know that the music business in America particularly is horrendously corrupt.
        Sounds to me like your description of these plastic people very much matches that of a lot of the hippy movement that Frank so despised.
        Had Frank been black, uneducated and drafted to Vietnam, he’d never have had such elitist opportunities.
        It’s unfortunate if you think that people living in America in the 1960’s were “plastic people” because they were in a rut and their lives were vacuous by definition of what, I don’t know, then that’s very shallow level thinking. The psychology and pharmaceutical industries made/make billions from that perceived deficit. Not everybody can be a leader, a winner, a go-getter, always dependable, unfailing, unflinching and any other non-failure you can think of. Not everybody had any level of access to creative and/or leisure pursuits and were stuck with a dead-end job and a TV. I certainly couldn’t imagine that kind of life but it’s very much the reality for many.
        Realistically, the more I think about now just proves to me just how shallow an individual Frank was himself. Of course, he was only in his early twenties and still basically knew pretty much nothing about life. He was living where? In some nowhere’sville desert in Glendale, of all places. Oh, the pressure! Lol

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