Frank Zappa and his family moved to California in 1952. He was 12.
The practice of putting Japanese-Americans into interment camps in California and elsewhere ended in 1945.
Frank Zappa likely spent many of his formative years profoundly aware of the quite recent history of Japanese-American internment during World War II. In Monterey, where the family first moved, he would have been 6 minutes away from theÂ Manzanar War Relocation Center. He would have grown up in his formative years with a profound understanding of the history.
Trust a kid who grew up in Kent Ohio. That shit becomes you.
So it should come as no surprise that the song “Concentration Moon” is in some respect about these camps.
Here is how Frank Zappa explained it to an interviewer named Studs Terkel:
FZ: Well, we have a song coming up, called Concentration Moon which is â€¦ ah â€¦ a make-believe story about some very real concentration camps, that the US government built to house Japanese people during World War II. These people were snatched up out of their homes â€¦
ST: Relocation camps.
FZ: Yeah. You’re doing them a favor you’re relocation ’em â€¦ the American government’s so nice to get them a place to stay during the War, and they snatched these people off of the street and they stick in these camps and I guess they turned them loose later but the camps’re still there, and it was a popular myth â€“ let’s hope it’s a myth â€“ among the hippies on the West coast, that very soon â€¦ ah â€¦ any dissatisfied, potentially non-conforming person person in the US is about to be rounded up by the government and stashed away in these camps. That doesn’t mean just hippies, but they’re probably thinking that militant Blacks and militant Latin and militant anybody or even passive people â€¦
ST: â€¦ pretenders â€¦
FZ: Yeah, anybody, who doesn’t go along with the main stream of the hokum of the government is speeding to you is gonna be stashed away, so â€¦ ah â€¦
ST: It starts with the concentration camp â€¦
FZ: It starts with that and then goes on to the story of Mom & Dad, which is a â€¦ ah â€¦ middle class couple, who have been informed by one of their children, that â€¦ ah â€¦ their daughter has been killed in the park, by the cops, because she just happened to be there laying in the grass with a Hippie. And, ah, the attitude of the song is, that the parents say, well, it served her right, that she had associated with such trash. And then we have Bow Tie Daddy, which is another song about those same people, who are â€¦ didn’t care when their child was killed by the police, because they were embarassed that their child should have anything to do with a Hippie, and we have Harry You’re A Beast, which is a song about the sexual attitude of the parents, giving a little insight into why these people should feel that way about their child, finally winding up with What’s The Ugliest Part Of Your Body?, a song about â€¦ the intelligence of the parents.
ST: The Ugliest Part Of Your Body turns out to be â€¦
FZ: â€¦ the mind.
ST: The mind.
…and now you know the rest of the story…