Oh No, I Don’t Believe it: Moon Unit and Dweezil

BoFN Rating: This post has been rated PG for weasel-ripped flesh and suggestive (if somewhat puzzling) lyrics.

It was only a matter of time before Frank Zappa’s progeny made their way to these hallowed pages, but Frank, undoubtedly stranger than us, has been no stranger to us. Neither has his occasional collaborator and teenage buddy Captain Beefheart. See here, and here, and here.

Using BoFN logic, we can surmise that Frank and Gail Zappa, deeply disappointed by the ordinariness of their own given names, firmly resolved that their own children should not suffer the same unsatisfactory fate.

Thus were born and christened (on whatever it is that eccentric, areligious people christen with out there) Moon Unit Zappa (1967) and Dweezil Zappa (1969). There are also younger Zappa siblings, Ahmet and Diva, who will not be subjects in this BoFN entry.

Moon Unit has had an active professional life in Los Angeles as an actor, voice actor, consultant, writer, and sometimes VJ for MTV. Her biggest claim to fame is the collaboration with her father at the age of 14, the song “Valley Girl.” Moon did a note perfect imitation of “Valley speak” that launched a whole trend around that patois. As her Wikipedia entry would have it:

The song featured Moon’s monologue in “valleyspeak“, slang terms popular with teenage girls in the San Fernando ValleyLos Angeles. “Valley Girl” was Frank Zappa’s biggest hit in the United States, and popularized phrases from the lyric such as “grody to the max” and “gag me with a spoon.” The song appeared on her father’s 1982 album Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch. “Valleyspeak” would spawn similar language growth and is today known as “High Rising Terminal” speach.

That album title, Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch, approaches BoFN standards of funniness and deserves honorable mention. The cover art represents the letters “Z” and “A” but can also be interpreted as . . . what the album title describes.

“Valley Girl” was kind of a throwaway song for Frank. Ironically it became his only ever Top 40 hit in the USA. We should credit Moon’s brilliant vocal impressions for that. Valley Girl also became a highly forgettable 80s movie with the young Nicholas Cage.

Moon Unit also earned a reference in Austen Powers:

Dweezil Zappa, who Wikipedia tells me was actually born Ian Donald Calvin Euclid Zappa in 1969, has also had a very active career, sometimes as an actor but mostly as a guitarist, musician and producer. He released his first single at the age of 12 (produced by Eddie Van Halen).

As a lifelong Zappa fanatic, I know Dweezil’s work mainly for the legacy band that he leads: Zappa Plays Zappa. It performs Frank’s music, often with some of the original musicians, including Napolean Murphy Brock, Steve Vai, and Terry Bozzio. Napolean plays and sings here on “Inca Roads” (probably my favorite Zappa cut, originally on the studio masterpiece One Size Fits All). Dweezil also does a monster guitar solo:

Salute to Moon and Dweezil, and a Happy New Year to all!

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4 Responses to Oh No, I Don’t Believe it: Moon Unit and Dweezil

  1. beth says:

    I remember these names so well. now I feel so lame about naming my 3 daughters all with what I know now to be ‘h’ names and 2 syllables. this must be why none of us has a drop of musical talent.

  2. wdydfae says:

    They’re gonna be doing nothing but thanking you for that. But how do you give the kids “h” names without realizing it? Like you thought it was Nana and it turned out to be Hannah?

  3. kerbey says:

    I’ve never been able to understand Frank Zappa. It doesn’t sound like singing to me and it is not melodic but yet he kept putting out records and had fans. I guess you understand it. I do remember the song and the movie very well. Unfortunate names for the kids, though I do remember Dweezil was hot.

    • wdydfae says:

      OK, Kerb, I admit that the Zapp goes way out there, but I think I can make a case that he is melodic when he wants to be. What do you think of Sofa #1?

      Of course, he has to turn around and deconstruct it in Sofa #2:

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