I just finished reading Frank Zappa's autobiography, The Real Frank Zappa Book. He writes in hilarious detail about his life, the music industry, and politics.
I love the music, but I love the man just as much because he was the closest thing I've seen to Howard Roark in a musician. Put briefly, he thought for himself. He didn't allow others' judgments to cloud his own, and it showed in everything he did: the way he composed, spoke, played guitar, managed his career, named his children, raised his children, eschewed drugs, and lampooned everyone.
While I share many of his opinions, particularly his disdain for religion, politics, and all politicians, I find his philosophy flawed. I haven't been able to discern any of his fundamental convictions. I imagine he had some, but I wonder if he put in the work to discover what they were, why he had them, and whether they were truly fundamental and valid. I get the impression that it wasn't so important to him. He would often preface an oration with something like "I'm going to spew my opinions now. Take it or leave it." I understand the sentiment, but I think he lacked an earnest, dead certainty that he was right. I won't get into it now, but I think he would acknowledge that some of his arguments don't hold up under extreme scrutiny, and he wouldn't mind too much.
Make sure you're in touch with his speaking style before reading. From the Amazon review:
If you're familiar with the man, you will be able to hear his distinctive enunciations (aided by the bold-facing of certain words and Zappaisms)
Look up some interviews. Better yet, listen to him speak between and during songs; he inflects more. Liberal usage of bold, italics, and underlining throughout the book may seem annoying and unprofessional at first, but brings out his voice brilliantly.
Some gratuitous Zappa quotes:
"A composer is a guy who goes around forcing his will on unsuspecting air molecules, often with the assistance of unsuspecting musicians."
"If you wind up with a boring, miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest or some guy on TV telling you how to do your shit, then YOU DESERVE IT."
"A drug is not bad. A drug is a chemical compound. The problem comes in when people who take drugs treat them like a license to behave like an asshole."
"You say your life's a bum deal and you're up against the wall. Well people, you ain't even got no kinda deal at all. Cause what they do, in Washington, they just takes care of number one. And number one ain't you. You ain't even number two."
"May your shit come to life and kiss you on the face." - to Tipper Gore about parental advisory labels on album covers