Po-Jama People

Notes and Comments

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The pyjama people are boring ne to pieces
They make me feel like I'm wasting my time
They all got flannel up 'n down 'em
little trap door back around 'em
An' some cozy little footies on their mind
  Looks like subconscious FZ's memory flashback. This is from his recollection of early childhood in Maryland.
  "Also Edgewood is a place where my younger brother Bobby caught fire. We used to wear these flannel pyjamas with a trap door in the backfor taking shit..."
As cited by Michael Gray, Mother! (1994, p.22)
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Po-jama people!
Po-jama people!
Lawd they make you sleepy
With the things they might say
On 12 Feb 1997, CHRISTOPHER AUSTIN wrote:
  I think I read that Ruth, Ian and George Duke were the Po-Jama people...and they used to play that song with FZ! Pretty harsh of him. I guess they didn't know it was about them. Now that I think of it, the book I think I read that in was _Dynamics of Poodle Play_ by a neo/pseudo-Marxist/Freudian whose name escapes me. I'm sure a lot of you out there know which book I'm talking about.
From: Patrick David Neve <>
  Well Chris, Ian wasn't in the group anymore, and it's Negative Dialectic Of Poodle Play by Ben Watson, but his take on it is a little fuzzy, at least to me. Here is what he says on paperback page 333;
  Although Zappa's sympathy for the jazz idiom is evident in Wazoo's music, 'Pojama People' expressed impatience with the self-composure of the adult professionals required to play it.
  (quoting zappa from NME, 1976)
  "I think the overall impact of THAT group would be that it was between pseudo-jazette and cranial. And the people who were in the band at that time - with a couple of exceptions - were genuinely boring people. I mean, I don't appreciate a band that likes to play chess in their off-stage hours. If you have to spend a lot of time with people who are interested in their chess boards and little card games and shit like that, it can drive you nuts."
  (and quoting from Paul Colbert,)
  "I have had bands where everyone has been a reader. The most boring band I had was like that and ultimately led to the song 'Po-jama People'... engaging in intellectual, juiceless pursuits. I like to have guys on the bus who want to go out there and get laid."
  This alone doesn't really prove it for me. FZ never exactly states who THAT group was. It seems pretty clear that Watson assumes it was the Wazoo crowd, and that well may be, but it doesn't seem like it's necessarily certain. What I don't know is if Ruth and Ian were still married or not. On top of that, I really don't know the relationship status of anyone in the band at that time. Somehow, though, I have a hard time picturing Nappy and Chester playing cribbage in the back of Phydeaux III. Can anybody else settle this matter with some harder evidence?
From: Dan Buxbaum <>
  Yeah, that's a big part of it. In some of the live versions of Po-Jama People in '74 you can hear that in the banter between Napoleon and Frank with comments like: "You wanna play some chess." I remember reading that Zappa found it amusing that the Wazoo band played chess as a road diversion. He didn't think that was very 'rock n' roll'.
  The great live version of Po-Jama People from The Felt Forum, NYC, Halloween 1974 (late show) with the really long guitar solo and FZ vocal ad-libbing should really be released one day!
  n.p.: Zappa/Mothers: Gothenburg Sweden, Sept. 25, 1974 (the first live version of Po-Jama People).
From: Charles Ulrich
  Date: Sun, 08 Aug 2004 23:16:45 -0700
  Does anyone have either of the following magazines with FZ interviews?
  Paul Colbert, "Frank Zappa", Musicians Only, 1/28/80, p.18. Cherry Ripe, "Frank Zappa Has No Underwear", New Musical Express, 4/17/76.
  Or anything else that would indicate which band FZ wrote Po-Jama People about? I can't believe Watson's claim that it was the 1974 band.
From: Charles Ulrich
  Date: Fri, 13 Aug 2004 10:02:36 -0700
  It turns out that they were neither the Helsinki band nor the Grand Wazoo.
  They were the first 1973 band.
  Matti Salminen has both of the articles Watson cited. One of the articles specifically mentions 1973. The other article specifically lists Ruth, George, and Ponty.
  So I guess we can conclude that Napoleon was more fun than Ian, Chester was more fun than Ralph, and anyone was more fun than JLP.

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