Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Let’s Make the Water Turn Jimmy Carl Black

The Mothers of Invention

Bees and I just watched the fascinating and scholarly documentary “Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention in the 1960’s,” and we were both struck by the endearing character of drummer Jimmy Carl Black (“the Indian of the group”). It really broke my heart when nearly 40 years after the fact Black expresses his pride over having been a Mother and his confusion over the demise of the group.

Jimmy Carl Black - The Mothers of invention

Here’s a super cool 1968 instrumental version of “Let’s Make the Water Turn Black” from the German television show Beat Club. I’ve seen a video of them playing this, but I can’t find it anywhere. That’s a shame because while the band plays, Motorhead Sherwood makes a big, messy sandwich onstage while laconically shaking a tambourine. Pretty funny, I thought.

Just so you don’t feel cheated, here’s a nice video of the Mothers doing their inimitable thing in 1968, this time from French television. If you’re a M.O.I. fan you’ve likely seen this, but here goes for the uninitiated…Things to note: Bunk Gardner teasing “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” at the beginning, Zappa’s unique conducting of the band, Jimmy Carl Black holding it all together, and the sheer mind-blowing synergy of the band. The main musical theme here seems to be based on “Sleeping in a Jar.” But, heck, I won’t pretend to know what’s going on. If there are any music theory nerds, (or any other nerds), out there who care to chime in-- I’d love it. I like to learn.


  1. I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with Jimmy Carl Black at the Zappa festival in Illinois in 2001. I was kind of surprised to see what a sweet and genteel fellow he was. After an hour or so of hanging out with him, it was as if we had known each other for years.

  2. Wow! Man, you are lucky and I am jealous. Great to hear that Jimmy Carl Black was as kind as he seemed in the documentary. I would have loved to have actually met him.