8.02-ABSOLUTELY FREE (Mothers of Invention)

Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa


[Piano Introduction]

[Spoken: I don't do publicity balling for you anymore.]

[Spoken: The first word in this song is discorporate. It means to leave your body.]

Discorporate & come with me,
Shifting, drifting
Cloudless, starless
Velvet valleys and a sapphire sea.
(Wah Wah )

Unbind your mind, there is no time
To lick your stamps and paste them in
And we will begin.
(Wah Wah)

[Spoken: Flower Power sucks!]

        Diamonds on velvets on goldens on vixen
        On Comet on Cupid on Donner & Blitzen
        On up & away & afar & a go-go
        Escape from the weight of your corporate logo!

                  Unbind your mind.
                  There is no time
                  To lick your stamps
                  And paste them in.
                  And we’ll begin.

                           Freedom! Freedom!
                           Kindly loving
                           You’ll be absolutely free
                           Only if you want to be.

        Dreaming on cushions of velvet & satin
        To music by magic by people that happen
        To enter the world of a strange purple Jello.
        The dreams as they live them are all mellow yellow!

                  [Repeat C section]

                           [Repeat Chorus]

                           [Vocal Break]

                           You’ll be absolutely free
                           Only if you want to be.

The song Absolutely Free starts out with a short classical and meditative piano phrase, which still frequently brings itself to my mind. Then, after the use of spoken word used both as an interruption and an introduction, it breaks into a farcical psychedelic song featuring a celeste, with the heavy use of reverb and other sound effects. Toward the end of the song, a variation that features a vocal as if it were a heralding trumpet introduces the final couplet of the chorus to wrap the song up.

Discorporate appears to have been a neologism, and is formally introduced before being implemented. The term might refer to an out of body experience as experienced both in the use of psychedelic drugs and in the practice of meditation, and the word implies a confusion between the two. However, the meaning of discorporate may be best explained by how it is used in the song: escape from the weight of your corporate logo. But that in itself is ambiguous.

The theme of licking stamps, alluded to both in the A section and the C section, where it is repeated, could allude to blotter LSD. It could also refer to S&H Green Stamps, very popular in the 1960s, which rewarded customer for their patronage by stamp redemption for a variety of gifts, thereby helping to insure loyalty to certain brands, “corporate logo”. As stamps, they are extinct now, but they were the forerunners of the electronic point rewards we use today.

By associating Flower Power sucks! with Donovan’s Mellow Yellow, and using a celeste too, Zappa gestured toward him as one of the worst examples of the hippie sensibility he was talking about (along with the Beatles, of course). There’s something about You’ll be absolutely free / Only if you want to be that may be so broad as to be bland, like All You Need is Love, or for that matter, John Lennon’s song a couple of years later: War is Over (If you want it).

I find it remarkable that the song Absolutely Free is on We’re Only in it for the Money instead of the previous album, which bears the song's same name. Was it that having expressed freedom in the preceding album, Zappa now wanted to send the same message of freedom compressed into a single song? Was it that in order to be absolutely free, the song must find its own way independent of the album it engendered? If so, the song Absolutely Free ended up being best expressed in the new context it found itself in.