Robison speaks on Frank Zappa

On Halloween, William Robison, Head of the Department of History and Political Science, gives a lecture about Frank Zappa, a rock and jazz singer and musician.

On Halloween, William Robison, Head of the Department of History and Political Science, gives a lecture about Frank Zappa, a rock and jazz singer and musician.
Annie Goodman/The Lion's Roar

For his annual Halloween lecture, William Robison wrapped up the Fanfare Then and Now Lectures talking about Frank Zappa.

Robison is the Head of the Department of History and Political Science, as well as a history professor and the guitarist and vocalist for Impaired Faculties. On Oct. 31, Robison presented his lecture titled “Barking Pumpkin and Zomby Woof: The Life, Music, and Surprising Politics of Frank Zappa.” 

Robison has been preparing most of his life for this lecture.

 

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“In a lot of ways, it’s something I’ve been preparing for since I was probably about 10,” said Robison. “That’s about when I started listening to his music, but as far as putting it all together, I wrote most of it about a week ago, then just went and uploaded songs and clips and what have you, to fit the point I was trying to make. It’s stuff I was already pretty familiar with, so it’s not like I had to do a lot of research for this one. As a general rule, I don’t want the Halloween lecture to be too much work because I’ve got too much else going on.”

The primary purpose of the lecture was to have fun.

“I’ve been doing these for 16 years now,” said Robison. “I do a different one every Halloween. It’s always a blast because the people that come to this particular lecture, if they learn something, that’s fine, but they’re also here to have a good time and that’s what we usually try to do, hence the throwing of candy and all that stuff.”

Robison decided to start the band Impaired Faculties, which is comprised of university professors after, Joe Burns, a communication professor, used a guitar in a lecture. 

“I had the idea for it about three and a half years ago,” said Robison. “I had wanted to start playing again because I hadn’t done it in quite some time, except just at home and with family members. I come from a musical family, so everybody in the family plays an instrument. When we get together, music happens. Burns, who has been doing a lecture for eight or 10 years now as part of this series, showed up one year with a guitar to illustrate a couple of his points. I thought ‘This guy has got the bug too.’”

Robison hopes his lecture inspired people to keep an open mind towards music.

“To listen with open ears and an open mind,” said Robison. “You may or may not like Frank Zappa, but he did a lot of different stuff. He’s worth listening to. My attitude about music is don’t end up listening to just one decade or one genre because there’s so much good stuff out there that remains to be discovered. I’m still exploring, still discovering new stuff all the time. That includes both old music that goes way back and new music that I pick up all over the place. Being open minded is a good thing.”

 
 

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