Frank & Moon Zappa's "Valley Girl" Turns 40

Moon Zappa

 

Frank Zappa was many things – musician, composer, cultural commenter, businessman (though in a Zappa-esque way), husband, and father. Perhaps above all else, he was a workaholic. And when Zappa was at work – usually writing and/or recording music in his home studio, at all hours of the day and night – his family knew he was not to be disturbed.

 

Frank Zappa mixed her vocal with some music he had created, and the song “Valley Girl” was born. Before he left on tour, he had an acetate cut and gave it to Moon, and while he was away, she took it to popular rock radio station KROQ-FM. The phone lines, as they say, lit up, and the song became a listener favorite – so much so, other stations bootlegged the song and started playing it, too.

 

 

By the time her father got home, Moon’s voice was all over Los Angeles radio, and the commercial potential of “Valley Girl” could not be denied. Frank Zappa put the song on his next album, 1982’s Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch, and issued the song as a single. “Valley Girl” hit No. 32 on the Billboard Hot 100 – Zappa’s only Top 40 hit – and the album rose to No. 23. Moreover, “Valley Girl” spawned a mini-phenomenon, with dolls, cosmetics, jewelry, clothing, and more celebrating the pop culture figures the Zappas had intended to satirize. Frank Zappa was not amused.

 

“People think ‘Valley Girl’ is a happy kind of song, but it isn’t,” he told Billboard. “I’ve always hated the Valley … It just goes to show that the American public loves to celebrate the infantile.”


Moon Zappa, however, got exactly what she wanted. “I had no idea it was going to be such a big hit,” she told People magazine at the time. “I just wanted to spend some time with my father.”

 

Listen to Moon discuss "Valley Girl," and the Sherman Oaks Galleria amongst other things with host Lyndsey Parker (Yahoo Music Entertainment Music Editor) and Margaret Cho in the latest Totally 80’s podcast.

 

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