I’m the Slime – Frank Zappa

How the media, especially television, controls us

I’m the Slime is a 1973 single by Frank Zappa and The Mothers from the album Over-Nite Sensation.

For the recording of this song (and most of the Over-Nite Sensation), Zappa used Ike Turner‘s Bolic Studios in L.A. By virtue of this arrangement, Turner offered up the use of the Ikettes (including Ike’s then wife, Tina Turner) to sing back up vocals for various songs on Over-Nite Sensation including I’m the Slime. Notably, Tina Turner and the Iketters are not credited on the album, because after listening  to one of the recordings in the studio, Ike exclaimed “What is this shit?” and expected that they would not be credited on the album.

This song is about how the media, especially television, tries to control our mind by reducing our brain activity to a minimum and making us very suggestible.

This crystal clear critic of the television as the tool of power to render the masses numb, has not aged one iota since it was written. Frank Zappa’s low whispery voice (the same one he’ll use in the studio version of The Torture Never Stops) frightens and hypnotizes at the same time. No wonder it remained a popular song in his repertoire, enough to be included on the compilation album Strictly Commercial.

According to Ben Watson:

The lyrics for I’m the Slime feature virtuosic repeated rhymes in the manner of the early Bob Dylan and a silvery, tweaked electric guitar sound that flickers like a TV image. Particularly telling is the couplet “And you will do as you are told/Until the rights to you are sold“, a paranoid vision of advertising that has the advantage of summing up very accurately what goes on when TV stations sell prime-time commercial slots. One idea was to feature extracts from Richard Nixon’s Watergate speech, but this was dropped.

Zappa was lampooned in Rolling Stone magazine for satirizing the easy target of television” but one can suggest that he is doing rather more than that: the record is the slime, not some mimetic alternative.

Lyrics are “divided” in two parts: the first part is a riddle of insults in the form of “what am I?“. The second part discusses the evils of the answering the riddle, the various things seen on television.

I am gross and perverted
I’m obsessed ‘n deranged
I have existed for years
But very little has changed
I’m the tool of the Government
And industry too
For I am destined to rule
And regulate you

I may be vile and pernicious
But you can’t look away
I make you think I’m delicious
With the stuff that I say
I’m the best you can get
Have you guessed me yet?
I’m the slime oozin’ out
From your TV set

You will obey me while I lead you
And eat the garbage that I feed you
Until the day that we don’t need you
Don’t go for help . . . no one will heed you
Your mind is totally controlled
It has been stuffed into my mold
And you will do as you are told
Until the rights to you are sold

That’s right, folks . . .
Don’t touch that dial

Well, I am the slime from your video
Oozin’ along on your livin’ room floor

I am the slime from your video
Can’t stop the slime, people, lookit me go

I am the slime from your video
Oozin’ along on your livin’ room floor

I am the slime from your video
Can’t stop the slime, people, lookit me go

Sounds from the Bucket
Marco Principia

Born in Rome, his beloved city. Graduated with honors in Political Science and International Relations at Università degli Studi "Roma Tre". Currently employed at CIES - ONLUS as Fundraising Manager. Huge fan of A.S. Roma.
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