follow instructions, stay in the lines
help me out a little ’cause they took time to define
elegant elegy, tried and refined
tapping my plastic til I get declined
wartime? no more time!
pick up cracked pieces of plastic and glass
cackle and snap as we get back on track
no defense here for a weakhearted hack
Uncle Bernie’s Farm jumps right out of the gate, building on the strong finish of Status Back Baby. Zappa sings this one, in his speak-sing style, and the content — a peculiar, warped suburban America — recalls Let’s Make the Water Turn Black.
Halfway through, the bouncing tune stops for a quick bridge, then returns to the verse. “Plastic” is a recurring theme, and Santa Claus is characterized as “the creep who makes the toys.” Commercialism, childrens’ playthings, bombs and brass knuckles all jumble together.
taut top on the pickup box
can’t withstand the wind
but somebody’s home
tarpaulin, black plastic
wind rattling glass
way up here
Great, deep, sonorous bass opens the tune, and clicking soon crawls in alongside. Before we know it, long, vibrant vocals moan. A strangely mechanical voice, with echoing reverb, asks us what we would do if the plastic all melted. There’s a pervading dissonance, and the bouncy, robotic bass accentuates it. The clear, light percussion contrasts the deep bass.
The sudden injection of the chorus – a single line asking the titular question – soon gives way to another verse; the reverb builds, slightly, and the portent of decay in the lyrics builds alongside.
Then, chaos. The bass picks up a 2/4 beat (?) and someone screams. We hear the mangled recollections of a thousand hippies with thousand-yard stares: “I think I’m gonna die,” revolving on a Leslie speaker. The guitar is angular and dissonant, long, sharp tones needling us. Who are the brain police suddenly interjects again, and before we can begin to answer the question, the moaning continues, and we’re back again at the start.
“What would you do if the people you knew / were the plastic that melted and the chromium too?”
Thumping percussion and a babbling kazoo are our only answer. The bass modulates and wobbles as the manic sounds throb and fade, throb and fade.