Frank Zappa, Linda Ronstadt, and Remington Electric RazorComments
From an interview with Frank Zappa:
In 1967, we were living in New York, and I got a request from an advertising agency. See, I did one commercial in ’67 for Luden’s Cough Drops, and that got an award. It got a CLIO for the best music in a commercial in ’67. Then I got this request from Remington. They were looking for some kind of a ‘new sound’ for their commercials. (laughter) So, Linda Ronstadt happened to be managed by Herb Cohen, who was our manager at the time, and they supplied me with this advertising copy, and they wanted music for it. So, Ian Underwood and I put together this track, and Linda did the vocal on top of it, and we made a demo. They paid a thousand dollars for the demo, and that was the last I ever heard from ’em. They didn’t like what I did.
It doesn’t seem like this thing ever actually aired. BTW $1000 in 1967 is $9000 in today’s dollars.
A little further down this rabbit hole we find:
When Danny Elfman was hired to write The Simpsons theme tune, Matt Groening gave hime a mixtape containing The Jetsons theme, selections from Nino Rota’s Juliet Of The Spirits, a Remington electric shaver jingle by Frank Zappa, easy-listening music by Juan García Esquivel, and a teach-your-parrot-to-talk record.
[Puts on Andy Rooney hat]
And another thing: Does anybody use electric razors any more? I can’t remember the last time I saw one. Heck, I can’t remember the last time I saw a commercial for any sort of shaving technology on the teevee. What’s up with that? Back in the 1970s I seem to remember that every third ad during football games was for some brand of razor blade and/or aftershave. Speaking of which:
Would someone tell me how this happened? We were the fucking vanguard of shaving in this country. The Gillette Mach3 was the razor to own. Then the other guy came out with a three-blade razor. Were we scared? Hell, no. Because we hit back with a little thing called the Mach3Turbo. That’s three blades and an aloe strip. For moisture. But you know what happened next? Shut up, I’m telling you what happened—the bastards went to four blades. Now we’re standing around with our cocks in our hands, selling three blades and a strip. Moisture or no, suddenly we’re the chumps. Well, fuck it. We’re going to five blades.
Sure, we could go to four blades next, like the competition. That seems like the logical thing to do. After all, three worked out pretty well, and four is the next number after three. So let’s play it safe. Let’s make a thicker aloe strip and call it the Mach3SuperTurbo. Why innovate when we can follow? Oh, I know why: Because we’re a business, that’s why!
You think it’s crazy? It is crazy. But I don’t give a shit. From now on, we’re the ones who have the edge in the multi-blade game. Are they the best a man can get? Fuck, no. Gillette is the best a man can get.
What part of this don’t you understand? If two blades is good, and three blades is better, obviously five blades would make us the best fucking razor that ever existed. Comprende? We didn’t claw our way to the top of the razor game by clinging to the two-blade industry standard. We got here by taking chances. Well, five blades is the biggest chance of all.
Here’s the report from Engineering. Someone put it in the bathroom: I want to wipe my ass with it. They don’t tell me what to invent—I tell them. And I’m telling them to stick two more blades in there. I don’t care how. Make the blades so thin they’re invisible. Put some on the handle. I don’t care if they have to cram the fifth blade in perpendicular to the other four, just do it!
You’re taking the “safety” part of “safety razor” too literally, grandma. Cut the strings and soar. Let’s hit it. Let’s roll. This is our chance to make razor history. Let’s dream big. All you have to do is say that five blades can happen, and it will happen. If you aren’t on board, then fuck you. And if you’re on the board, then fuck you and your father. Hey, if I’m the only one who’ll take risks, I’m sure as hell happy to hog all the glory when the five-blade razor becomes the shaving tool for the U.S. of “this is how we shave now” A.
People said we couldn’t go to three. It’ll cost a fortune to manufacture, they said. Well, we did it. Now some egghead in a lab is screaming “Five’s crazy?” Well, perhaps he’d be more comfortable in the labs at Norelco, working on fucking electrics. Rotary blades, my white ass!
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we should just ride in Bic’s wake and make pens. Ha! Not on your fucking life! The day I shadow a penny-ante outfit like Bic is the day I leave the razor game for good, and that won’t happen until the day I die!
The market? Listen, we make the market. All we have to do is put her out there with a little jingle. It’s as easy as, “Hey, shaving with anything less than five blades is like scraping your beard off with a dull hatchet.” Or “You’ll be so smooth, I could snort lines off of your chin.” Try “Your neck is going to be so friggin’ soft, someone’s gonna walk up and tie a goddamn Cub Scout kerchief under it.”
I know what you’re thinking now: What’ll people say? Mew mew mew. Oh, no, what will people say?! Grow the fuck up. When you’re on top, people talk. That’s the price you pay for being on top. Which Gillette is, always has been, and forever shall be, Amen, five blades, sweet Jesus in heaven.
Stop. I just had a stroke of genius. Are you ready? Open your mouth, baby birds, cause Mama’s about to drop you one sweet, fat nightcrawler. Here she comes: Put another aloe strip on that fucker, too. That’s right. Five blades, two strips, and make the second one lather. You heard me—the second strip lathers. It’s a whole new way to think about shaving. Don’t question it. Don’t say a word. Just key the music, and call the chorus girls, because we’re on the edge—the razor’s edge—and I feel like dancing.