Frank Zappa

Magic Fingers

Song Review by

"Magic Fingers," a rock song from the 200 Motels soundtrack, refers to the vibrating beds found in cheap hotel rooms across America during the 1970s, and to the groupie's talents at "manipulating" the rock star. We are in Frank Zappa's conceptual "life on the road" series, especially in what was called the "Groupie Routine," a series of songs performed live in 1970-1971 and intended for inclusion in the movie. Depicting the groupie/rock star relationship, the routine ended with the girl stating that she wants a guy from a group with a hit single in the charts. The rock star obliges and sings his hit. Live, the Mothers of Invention used to launch into "Happy Together," singers Flo & Eddie's biggest seller with their previous band the Turtles. For the movie, the hit single was supposed to be (had the movie been shot on schedule and completely) "Magic Fingers," a song describing the night at the hotel room following the two characters' meeting in a night club. A fast-paced rock number, it ends with a monologue by the rock star (Howard Kaylan) describing his sexual fantasies, one of them being to beat the girl with a pair of tennis shoes he got from Jeff Beck. An edited version without the closing monologue was released as a single (no, it did not become a hit), backed with "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy." This is the only song from 200 Motels to have been performed live by Zappa after 1971 (with the exception of "Lonesome Cowboy Burt" which made a comeback in 1988). It crept up into the set list in 1978 and 1980. A live version from that last year can be heard on You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 6. It is much faster and interpolates the chord sequence from "Louie Louie," one of the guitarist's favorite jokes.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Poughkeepsie 2018 Chrome Dreams / Smokin' 2:37