on December 24, 2016 | Last updated December 24, 2016
Frank ZappaDon't Eat the Yellow Snow Suite
Release Type: User Audio Type: Single-track Reductions: Yes (Auto/CAT) Pitched Vocals: Yes Vocals Gender: Male (3)
5 LANE KEYS: MrBurpler
"Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" is both the title of a suite and of its first part. The suite of four songs (which also include "Nanook Rubs It," "St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast," and "Father O'Blivion") appeared on the 1974 LP Apostrophe.
The suite is a loose collection of musically independent songs, a technique Frank Zappa had already used in 1970-1971 for "The Groupie Routine" and the undocumented "Divan." One must understand the implications of the first line in "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow": "Dreamed I was an Eskimo." This is all a dream. It doesn't need to make sense -- and it doesn't. That's a clever way to tie together unrelated tunes. So we are in the North. An Eskimo boy named Nanook (Nanook of the North was the title of the 1922 Robert J. Flaherty documentary that introduced Inuits to the general public) wants to go to a show. His mother urges him to "Watch out where the huskies go/And don't you eat that yellow snow."
Nanook leaves his igloo only to find a fur trapper clubbing his favorite baby seal with a snow shoe. He picks up some of the yellow snow (snow soiled by dog urine) and rubs it into the eyes of the evil man, rendering him blind. "Trying to figure out what he's going to do/About his deflicted [sic] eyes," the trapper remembers an old legend which says that in such circumstances one must go to "the parish of Saint Alfonzo."
This song is a Zappa-fied blues in 6/4, a simple motif over which Zappa half-sings and narrates the story. Many musical quirks surface here and there to illustrate the story. Reaching the last line (the Saint Alfonzo reference), the piece segues into the demented xylophone introduction to "St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast."
Remember this is all a dream: you suddenly leave Nanook and his injured fur trapper to leap to the parish of St. Alfonzo where a fund-raising pancake breakfast is taking place. Attendants include a suppressed masochistic woman ("Why don't you treat me mean?/Hurt me").
This part opens with a frantic xylophone solo (go to the end of the track "Father O'Blivion" to hear one of Ruth Underwood's aborted attempts at getting it right). The song itself is in 4/4 but features complex time changes and quirky phrasing. There is a lot happening during these two minutes -- it gives the impression of a crowded and animated party. As you are invited to "Get on your feet an' do the funky Alfonzo!" the piece segues into "Father O'Blivion" and the music shifts into double time.
As you "do the funky Alfonzo," you are told the story of Father O'Blivion (and once again, remember this is all a dream!). He was given a hand job by a leprechaun the night before the pancake breakfast fundraiser. It turns him into a sex fanatic or something like that, as the song shifts from a fast-paced rock to a sunny Latin fiesta. The last verse, "Good morning, your Highness/Ooo-ooo-ooo/I brought you your snow shoe," is an intentionally lame attempt at turning the suite on itself and locking it in place by referring to the first part of the suite.
On the studio version, the piece fades out at this point.