Frank Zappa

Shove It Right In

Song Review by

Written for and featured in the movie 200 Motels, "Shove It Right In" is, along with "Billy the Mountain," Frank Zappa's masterpiece from the Mothers of Invention's years with Flo & Eddie (1969-1971). Sadly, it was never performed again after the two singers left the band.

"Shove It Right In" is a six-minute piece, but it was split into three parts in the movie and on the soundtrack album: "She Painted Up Her Face," "Half a Dozen Provocative Squats," and "Shove It Right In," with two interpolated (and unrelated) orchestral passages, "Janet's Big Dance Number" and "Mysterioso," which are analyzed in their own song entries. The piece tells the story of a groupie preparing for her night out. She lives in a small town (Centerville) with little action. She feels unfulfilled, her sexual experiences having been disasters up to now ("She's just 24/And she can't get off"). So she practices her poses ("The stare!/The 'secret stare' she would use/If a worthy-looking victim should appear"), hoping to find the right man at the night club: "Well, at least there's sort of a choice there," thanks to the lonely touring musicians "waiting for girls they could shove it right in."

The song was performed with great enthusiasm and a perfect dose of pathos by Flo & Eddie. A big rock motif at the beginning turned into a fast blues with a short but effective guitar solo (the "Provocative squats/Gum-Me-on-M'Lung-A" section), and finally resolved into an oddly touching waltz section with a high-pitched melody and twirling soprano saxophone and flute scales. The whole piece is a play on contrasts, as the crude explicit lyrics hide a pitiful portrait of romance. Zappa decries the "groupie situation," but also makes fun of the society which gave birth to it and now tries to ignore it.

"Shove It Right In" was extensively performed in 1971. A live performance (without the orchestral interruptions) can be found on You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 6. The piece was rediscovered by fans with the reissue of 200 Motels on CD in 1997.