Notes and Comments

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From: (James McCartney)
  My guess at this is: Ruth Doesn't Need Zappa's Lyrics.
From: (Brian Zavitz)
  I agree with this. This studio version of RDNZL was recorded after the tour in 1974 that put RDNZL on "Roxy & Elsewhere" and "Helsinki". I think that RDNZL was a track that was recorded during the "One Size Fits All" session (in 1975 after the the band learned how to play the songs REALLY good on tour in 1974 -- check out how much faster "Helsinki" is than "Roxy" since it's later in the tour -- Ruth can't even keep up on the "Helsinki" version of Montana!) but never made it on the record. At the end of Inca Roads, they say "On Ruth, that's Ruth!". I guess if RDNZL was played right after Inca Roads, or if Ruth was showcased during the tour on Inca Roads and RDNZL, it might back this up.
From: <>
  That's a good one! When I first saw the title on Studio Tan as "Redunzl", I always assumed that it was a pun on Rapunzel ("the chick with the long hair," as Peter Wolf - the J. Geils frontman, not the ex-FZ keyboardist - once put it). For some reason, that interpretation has stuck with me.
From: Mark Kemper <72302.653@CompuServe.COM>
  RNDZL = Your automatic gear shift. Reverse, Neutral, Drive, 2, 1
From: (James McCartney)
  Oh yeah, (sorry to post twice) the song's name is RDNZL, not RNDZL. I've never seen a car that had the gears in RDN21 order.
From: hackbod@python.CS.ORST.EDU (Dianne Hackborn)
  Heh, whenever I see that song title, I always think: "Ruth, Napolean, Duke, Zappa..." Dunno what the L could be, though. :)
From: ("Martyn Dryden")
  I recall an FZ explanation based on the idea that if the Z were a 2 then it would be like the legend on a car's automatic transmission control, ie Reverse, Drive, Neutral, 2, Low. Who would guess it could inspire a song? No-one would guess. Sorry to say I've no documentation of that, though.
From: "Ottis R." <BOYD@UNB.CA>
  I believe all (certainly most) automatics have neutral between reverse and drive (RNDZL vs. RDNZL). Hmmmmm .... maybe this is the real reason Frank s topped driving.
From: (Biffyshrew)
  I've seen this theory before, but I don't think it holds water. Possibly they do things differently on British cars, but I can't recall ever seeing a car where Drive came before Neutral! Also, FWIW, remember that the first release of "RDNZL" (on the Studio Tan LP) had the track spelled "Redunzl," although all subsequent releases, including the Studio Tan CD, use the shorter spelling. I realize that FZ was not involved in the Studio Tan packaging, so the original spelling could have been a miscommunication. (Zappa pronounced the word to rhyme with "Rapunzel." Anyone who watched Green Acres in the '60s knows that the technical name for the PRNDl gearshift is pronounced "pernundle.") But what do I know; I don't even drive...but then neither did FZ...
From: (This Space for Rent)
  The gear setup of automatic transmissions on older cars was:

On a 3-speed automatic:

  There is no transmission I know of what would put "Drive" on one side of Neutral, and the lower gears on the other side. Looks like that burst that bubble
From: (Michael Dec)
  Well, this is just my guess, but I always thought if you pronounce RDNZL it comes out "Redunzel" which is a combination word-play: Repunzal, redundent, repugnant. Frank just seemed to like the sound of some words.
From: (Ron Meckler)
  Gail once had a white Rolls Royce with RDNZL license plate.
  I believe the name derives from the fact that a bunch of the material in that song is "redone" parts of other songs, e.g., "Holiday In Berlin".
From: Unknown netter
  I should also point out that, listening to a live tape I have, Zappa introduces RDNZL as "a song dealing with the delicate subject of Ruth." So, take that as you will.
From: (Jon Naurin)
  Two other quotes that were used to introduce RDNZL in 1974 (from memory - probably not 100% accurate):
  • "And speaking of dried up dog biscuits, the name of this song is RDNZL"
  • "There comes a time in every man's life when he will find a dried apricot in his...[don't remember]"
  Which might or might not suggest that the D stands for "dry" or "dried". So we have Ruth and Dried...maybe "Ruth's dried..." - someone else take it from here!
  May this discussion subject never die!

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