Frank Zappa

Trying' to Grow a Chin

Composed by Frank Zappa

Song Review by

Teenage shortcomings turn into suicidal tendencies in the adult life. At least that's the meaning of Frank Zappa's song "Tryin' to Grow a Chin." The character, a 14-year-old "sickly 'n' thin," tries to develop his autonomy and overall manhood, something weirdly illustrated by the song's title, but his father makes obstruction. Now that he is older, "horny 'n' lonely," he repeats endlessly his refrain: "I wanna be dead/In bed/Please kill me/'Cause that would thrill me."

What appears to be a dramatic situation is actually pretty much ridiculed, thanks to a sweaty pace, a revolt-like punk energy, and the choice of drummer Terry Bozzio to sing lead vocals (including a false stop, followed by an overtly cliché "One more time for the world!" shout and reprise). The song was premiered sometime around January 1976 (it was often performed side by side with "Wind Up Workin' in a Gas Station" -- teenage life conceptual continuity) and is one of only two songs on the 1979 LP Sheik Yerbouti that were intended to be included on the 1976 legal fiasco Läther (the other being "Broken Hearts Are for Assholes"). It was performed regularly from 1976 to 1979, and occasionally in 1981. Denny Walley took over the vocals after Bozzio's departure in 1978, but otherwise all recorded versions are pretty much alike.