Anyone who owns a couple of concert tapes (or has been reading FZShows closely) knows that Zappa's live music, especially the improvisations, are full of quotes. Most of the songs quoted have been identified, but a few of them remain Mystery Songs. The most interesting ones (at least in this reporter's opinion) are those which appear on more than one tape, and are believed to be FZ-compositions. Right now, I've singled out 7 different such cases, and made up a simple nomenclature for these songs, two of which have been identified in the meantime:
- ** "Mystery Song #1". A typical FZ melody now identified in I Come From Nowhere. It first occurs on the NYC 1969 06 13 show and reappears in an handful of shows of 1973 and 1974 tours, mostly during the improvisation before Dupree's Paradise. Then again appears in the Hartford 1977 10 17 show and in some of the early 1980 pre-tour rehearsals, where it's superimposed on My Sharona. It is now listed as Nowhere riff.
- ** "Mystery Song #2" has been identified as the riff that goes along with "But you should be diggin' it while it's happening" in "It Just Might Be A One-Shot Deal". A big hand for Tan Mitsugu, who identified it. This short little melody appears during the regular arrangement of all the New Brown Clouds performances (Grand Wazoo tour and 1975 09 18). In 1973 it appears in an improvisation in Arlington (1973 03 11) and during Be-Bop Tango in Toronto (1973 11 23 late). From September to November 1974 it was part of the regular arrangement of Approximate and played on the spot during some other songs. It is now listed as One-Shot riff.
- Mystery Song #3. Very atypical FZ. A chord progression played by Tommy Mars, with a beautiful guitar melody on top. Italian-sounding, some would say. Appears on three concert tapes from between Nov. 8 and Nov. 13 1980.
- Mystery Song #4. Another beautiful, atypical guitar melody played on top of an atypical FZ chord progression. It can be heard on the 1982 04 04 rehearsals, and on the Rome, 1984 10 14 Let's Move To Cleveland. In style, it's in fact rather close to Scandinavian folk music.
- Mystery Song #5. An unusual "opera" theme that pops up in some of the fall 1980 renditions of The Torture Never Stops during Tommy Mars solos. At the Oct 18 show in Tulsa it has some vocals, some days later in Providence (Nov 8) it returns with a short guitar intro. Another interesting appearance is at the Dec 02 show in Ft. Collins.
- Mystery Tune. We find this short melody (B G D C# C D F# A G) first in 1968 (played three different times at the late show on April 20 in New York) and in various shows in 1974, 1975, 1976, 1980 and finally during the Berkeley 1980 12 05 late show (where FZ may or may not play more of the same song). It was suggested that this line come from the closing line of The Twilight Time, but the music doesn't match exactly and Frank is consistent in playing his (?) line through the years.
- Mystery Riff. This cool riff actually appears on only one tape (the 1980 01 29 rehearsals), but appears to have been part of a larger composition, along with Mystery Song #1. May be related to Tink Walks Amok / Thirteen.
- ** "Mystery Rehearsal Piece" is now listed as Thirteen. This riff rehearsed in early 1979 was augmented in 1980. It has been pointed out that it is nothing else that an expansion of the original Thirteen vamp jammed with Shankar during the 1978 Halloween run. The riff was also reworked (with Atomic Paganini) in Tink Walks Amok.
Click on the titles to hear a little sound clip of each.