Frank Zappa

Cosmik Debris

Song Review by

A take on gurus, prophets, and charlatans, "Cosmik Debris," released on Frank Zappa's 1974 LP Apostrophe, makes fun of those who market and sell "cosmic wisdom." "The Mystery Man" tries to convince the singer to pay him a fee so that he could show him how to reach nirvana. The only answer he gets from an unimpressed Zappa is "Look here brother/Who you jivin' with that Cosmik Debris?," although he does add advice in the end, pointing out that he "could make more money as a butcher." The tricks the Mystery Man pulls are similar to those of the Magic Mama in "Camarillo Brillo": he has a crystal bowl and "the dust of the Grand Wazoo" (note the conceptual continuity here), while she had an amulet and "ruled the Toads of the Short Forest" (another earlier Zappa tune). The two songs are also related through the presence in both of the line "Now is that a real poncho or is that a Sears poncho?"

This humorous blues-rock was released as the B-side to the two Apostrophe singles, "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" and "Uncle Remus" (both on DiscReet, 1974). It was performed live numerous times, starting as early as 1972 up until Zappa's last tour in 1988. Live versions are available on You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 3 (a 1984 recording), The Best Band You Never Heard in Your Life, and the home video Does Humor Belong in Music?, but they are all of minor interest since "Cosmik Debris" is one of the few songs Zappa always performed the same way, set aside occasional lyric updates.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Apostrophe (') 1974 Rykodisc 4:14
Apostrophe/Over-nite Sensation 1986 Ryko Distribution 4:16
Strictly Commercial: The Best of Frank Zappa 1995 Rykodisc 4:14
Nick at Nite Goes to Outer Space 1997
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 4:15
The Crux of the Biscuit 2016 Universal / Zappa Records 5:11
Zappatite: Frank Zappa's Tastiest Tracks 2016 Zappa Records 4:14