Frank Zappa / Frank Zappa & the Mothers

Montana

Composed by Frank Zappa

Song Review by

Arguably the best song from the 1973 LP Over-nite Sensation, "Montana" is one of those silly complex yet simple tunes Frank Zappa wrote so well. The singer wants to move to Montana "just to raise up a crop of/Dental Floss" (yes, that's right, dental floss grows in bushes, didn't you know?). He will also grow bees to be able to wax his floss. Riding his pony around his fields of floss with a pair of zircon-encrusted tweezers in his hands (the same ones that appeared in the album's previous song, "Dinah-Moe Humm"), he will embody a new kind of cowboy, the "Dental Floss tycoon."

Full of twisted pseudo-ranch pronunciation and including a high-pitched "Yippy-Ty-O-Ty-Ay" for the final fade-out, this song was a laugh riot, but it also included a complex middle section with sped-up vocals and percussion. The introduction is also noteworthy, as the drum fill was written out and obligatory -- it became the song's signature, so to speak. Live, Zappa constantly changed the lyrics, putting pressure on his back vocalists as they attempted to follow him. A good example blending recordings from 1973 and 1984 was included on You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 4. But the best live version can be found on Vol. 2 from the same series. Zappa causes two false starts by taking the piece at hyperspeed, forcing Chester Thompson and Ruth Underwood to fumble in the introduction. An audience member having requested "Whipping Floss," the whole lyrics are being adapted on the spot. This is a great example of the craziness this man could lead on stage.

The studio version of "Montana" was released as the B-side to "I'm the Slime" (1973, DiscReet). It was performed live in and out throughout Zappa's career, but especially in 1973-1975, 1982, 1984, and 1988. It was rightfully included on the compilation album Strictly Commercial and remains to this day a fan favorite.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Over-Nite Sensation 1973 Rykodisc 6:35
blue highlight denotes editor's pick