Muffin Man

Notes and Comments

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The Muffin Man is seated at the table
in the laboratory of
Utility Muffin Research Kitchen...
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Reaching for an oversized chrome spoon
he gathers an intimate quantity of
dried muffin remnants and brushing his
aside procceds to dump these
  a.f.f.-z. FAQ p.1
From: (Ron Zajac)
  Here's what it is; two little cloth & paper icons of Mary, Jesus and/or some Saints bound by two thin ribbons (about 2.5' long):
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  You drape the ribbons over your shoulders (over your t-shirt, under your over-shirt) so one icon sits on your breastbone, another in the middle of your back. I forget what sacrament the issuing of this thing is associated with; perhaps Confirmation. There were all kinds of associated cool legends that the kids passed around; that if you wore it when you died, you'd go straight to Heaven; that there was once a soldier who cussed/swore/drank/etc--but he Wore His Scapular, and bragged between swigs and pelvic thrusts that he'd go to heaven because he always wore his scapular. Well, he died during combat and they miraculously found the scapular 50' away from where he died. WHAT do you THINK of THAT?!??!
From: Vladimir Sovetov <>
  It seems that Muffin Man is a direct relative or may be Father O'Blivion himself busy with scientificaly conceived and approved Saint Alfonzo's Pancake:-) In other words religion and cheap flour-based fried stuff were inseparable for FZ. And mean rancind oil stink of charity muffin or pancake from Joe The Lost Soul amend making. Amen.
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He turns to us and speaks:
From: Colin Gateley <>
  It's difficult to explain: like trying to explain why a joke is funny and succeeding in only confusing your victim.
  "I FOR ONE CARE LESS FOR THEM!" - sounds portentious, pretentious, rhythmically amusing, silly, a lot of emphasis for such a seemingly trivial matter...
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Arrogantly twisting the sterile canvas snoot
of a fully charged icing
anointment utensil he poots forths
a quarter-ounce
green rosette
From: (Cliff Heller)
  It's not a wall ornament object. Rosette means a small Rose. When you squirt out a small (quarter-ounce) dollop of icing onto a cake or muffin it makes a little rose like pattern. This is what the muffin man is doing with green icing.
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Girl you thought he was a man
he was a muffin
He hung around till you found
That he didn't know nuthin'
Girl you thought he was a man
But he only was a-pufin'
No cries is heard in the night
As a result of him stuffin'
AFF-Z folks funny and brave attempts of lyrics explanation
From: (johan wikberg)
  The lyrics go like this:
  [1] Girl, you thought he was a man, but he was a muffin
  [2] He hung around 'til you found that he didn't know 'nuffin'
  [3] Girl, you thought he was a man, but he only was a-puffin'
  [4] No cries is heard in the night as a result of him stuffin'
  I will explain them line by line, using boy/girl terminology.
  Line 1. The girl thought the boy "was a man" - that is, capable of satisfying her sexually, preferably by means of a large penis (in good old blues tradition). Unfortunately, he was not - rather, he was a "muffin", that is, not at all capable of satisfying her sexually. Probably, his penis was not that large after all (in good old blues tradition). An alternative reading is that the penis may or may not have been large when erect, but never achieved erection. This is a slight deviation from orthodox (good old) blues tradition, and in my opinion less likely, but nonetheless made possible by the inherent softness of muffins.
  Line 2. The boy "hung around" until the girl found out that he did not know anything - about how to satisfy her sexually. At this point he was in no position to hang around any longer, since she no doubt dumped him (as indeed she should). This may sound like he was merely inexperienced, but of course, it is nothing else than a modified repetition of the already implicitly established fact that his penis was not large enough (in good old blues tradition).
  Line 3. The first part repeats line 1; the second part presents the new fact that the boy had actually led the girl to believe that he was indeed capable of satisfying her sexually, preferably by means of a large penis (in good old blues tradition). Unfortunately, he had only been puffing (untruthfully boasting; breathing out empty air).
  Line 4. This lovely line adds insult to injury. The cries that are not heard are the type of cries that a girl lets out when she is being satisfied - very satisfied - by a boy, preferably with a large penis (in good old blues tradition). In the lyrics, this is referred to as "stuffin'": stuffing the penis into the vagina. Strict logic tells us that there are two possible reasons why no girl is crying now - either he does not try to satisfy anyone sexually at all, or he tries and fails (maybe the penis enters the vagina but is not, ehm, large enough to satisfy). Good old blues tradition dictates the latter.
  After Bongo Fury was released, as the lyrics started to find their way into live performances of the song, Zappa wound up modifying the last bit (as documented on Stage #6):
No cries is heard in the night as a result of him
Stuffin' it in
He shoulda been
Stuffin' it in
  In my opinion, this takes some of the edge away since it veers off from good old blues tradition. All of a sudden, all the boy would have had to do was stuff it in (may I remind you that this means vaginal (well, or anal) intercourse), and the girl would have cried in satisfaction. This transforms the Muffin Man from a small (or impotent) man into merely some kind of coward. I, for one, care less for these versions and consider them a typical example of Zappa going soft when he cut his hair in the 1980s. :)
  Finally, we must try and find reasons why people tend to consider this concrete description to be complete nonsense. (Of course it's not "Billy the Mountain" but what do you expect from a single quartrain?) I think it has to do with the verb form "a-puffin'", homophonous with "a puffin": people think Zappa name-drops an arctic bird in the middle of a sexual innuendo, as if mentioning a muffin weren't enough. At any rate, the lyrics are not too explicit and make use of periphrasis. This is celebrated in many literary traditions which some readers may not be familiar with, such as lots of black popular music dealing with sexual matters, or Old Icelandic poetry. The rule seems always to be that the more imaginative the circumlocution, the greater the glory of its author. Zappa's bid includes muffins and almost a puffin too, which is kind of cool if you ask me.
  (As a parenthesis: Zappa's mad scientist ravings in the spoken introduction on Bongo Fury are quite interesting. "Some people like cupcakes better, but I myself say there is not - nor ought there be - nothing so exulting [? - don't have a CD player handy] on the face of God's great Earth as that prince of foods: the muffin!" Without digging to deeply, the cup-cakes and the muff-in could here symbolize two parts of the female anatomy, one of which is later used to derogatorily refer to a boy who fails to satisfy a girl sexually - in the good old blues tradition (using a large penis, that is).)
From: (Greg Riemer)
  The phrase a-puffin' might also be read as a 'puffin which would be an artistic contraction of "cream puff" ( derogatory slang for a male who is not manly)
From: (Michael Dec)
  Whoa! Muffin Man peoples of the world!
  As a kid in the USA , I remember seeing a television commercial for english muffins. A dorky guy was skipping down the street distributing muffins. This was accompanied buy a ditty: "Have you seen the muffin man, the muffin man... who lives in Drewry Lane." Said ditty must certainly be British in origin. <now I need help form the UK... ain't the Internet grand? We could get together and solve all the world's problems, like what this stupid song means.> I don't know what FZ intended but it's obvious he liked cross references. Maybe it's conceptual continuity. The muffin man on TV looked a bit light in his loafers, if my memory is correct <hah!>.
From: Mark Zwolinski <>
  OK, this is the Oxford English Dictionary definition of a muffin: "Light flat round spongy cake, eaten toasted & buttered." A muffin man is a seller of muffins (obviously!). There was a character on children's TV in the 1950's called Muffin the Mule. By the 1970's we realised the joke ("Muffin the mule is an offence").
  The joke is not all one way, however, do Americans realise the sexual connotation on this side of the Atlantic of a "fanny bag"?
From: (Bill Lantz)
  All the Muffin Men decodings are really fascinating and people from all over the world have suggested some great ideas. But Frank was asked "what's the deal with Muffin Man" and he responded that one morning in a cafe, he saw a guy who was eating his breakfast that had a head that looked like a muffin and he wrote the lyrics on the spot.
  I'm sorry to say that I can't remember what interview I heard that on, but it is buried in my collection somewhere.
  Now, all the lyrics point back to the reference someone else made about the Uncle Meat liner notes or even YCDTOSA explanations of folkore where everything is inside jokes and current events. It's whatever was in his head and I'm not sure any of us know what he was thinking. Great thoughts though!! (Here in affz AND FZ's head)
From: Vladimir Sovetov <>
  Aha! But I see no contradiction here. It was a man with a muffin head, and his simple story, but knowning Frank :-)) nothing could stop him from told it sexually.
From: "James, Stephen - HR"
  Regarding Michael Dec's entry in this forum, yes, the English "Muffin Man" rhyme is as follows:
"Have you seen the muffin man,
The muffin man, the muffin man,
Have you seen the muffin man who lives in Drury Lane?"
  There may be another verse or two, but that's all anyone knows of it these days (it's probably at least a century old, like similar children's rhymes such as "Oranges and Lemons" and "Ring Around The Roses", which dates back to the 17th century). Anyway, note the correct spelling of the street name.
  Drury Lane is in the Covent Garden area of London, a theatre district where there used to be a large early-morning open-air food market. Hotel and restaurant managers, chefs and their lackeys would go there before sunrise to buy the food for the day. So muffins were probably available there, along with fruit, veg, meat, fish, etc. The market moved on years ago, and that particular area is now a "piazza" of trendy, expensive tourist-trap stores.
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Bruce Fowler on trombone, Napoleon Murphy Brock on tenor sax, and lead
vocals, Terry Bozzio on drums, Tom Fowler on bass, Denny Walley on
slide, George Duke on keyboards, Captain Beefheart on vocals, and
soprano sax, and madness. Thank you very much for coming to the
concert tonight.
Hope you enjoyed it.
Goodnight Austin, Texas, where ever you are.
From: Vladimir Sovetov
  Most probably reference to Frank's old 58's novelity favorite John Zacherle' 'Dinner With Drac'
I first frowned upon it
But with ketchup on it
It tasted very much like spaghetti!
Goodnight whatever you are!
  Read more about this mother of all CCs here Dear Jeepers. CUCAMONGA YEARS
  Probably both [FZ' and Zacherle' reference] derive from the famous catch phrase of the comedian Jimmy Durante, who ended his shows with "Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are."

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SOVA NOSE Any proposal? I'd like to hear!
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