"Tycho Brahe"

Words and music by Frank Zappa
as performed at the Paramount Theater, Portland, Oregon, on December 9, 1972 (early show)

We're gonna make something up, especially for you. Tell you what happened, this afternoon. [interruption from the audience] Someone give him discipline. Or a hand. Or both at the same time.

This afternoon at the soundcheck, we had some problems with our "equiptment" and while we were trying to solve them, part of the method we used to solve the equipment problems was somebody has to stand at the microphone and talk, and talk and talk until you get it down to sound right. So this afternoon I was talking. And while I was talking, I made up a story based on a historical figure, who was an astronomer from Denmark. Have you ever heard of a guy named Tycho Brahe? Anybody know Tycho Brahe? Hey, guy are you guys erudite! Anyway, Tycho Brahe also happens to be the brandname of the PA company who is schlepping us around the countryside here. And we manufactured a brief fantasy based on the exploits of Tycho Brahe. Now we're going to try and recreate our soundcheck this afternoon for you, ladies and gentlemen, complete with the drama of a little Danish astronomer. You ready?

This may turn out shitty, but what the heck. You know? Yeah, really. Okay, this is in Bb, [xxx]

1, 2, 3, 4...

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the story of Tycho Brahe, a little Danish astronomer. Bring the band on down behind me, boys. We're gonna get [xxx] too soon. Just settle into a groove.

Tycho Brahe! The name brings... Why, the name itself, why it just conjures up duels and telescopes, everything. What a name!

Anyway, Tycho Brahe really was in a duel. The poor sucker got his nose shot off, or chopped off or something. Being industrious--and also Danish--he decided that instead of going through life with a big hole in the middle of his face--and this is the honest-to-God truth, ladies and gentlemen--fashioned for himself a nose made out of copper, which he attached to his head. He really had a copper nose. What an astronomer!

Tycho Brahe was also a shrewd little sucker, and he had the King of Denmark whipped, because I guess the King of Denmark had an interest in things of a celestial nature. So Tycho Brahe conned the poor dude into constructing for his edification a very spiffy observatory, probably one of the neatest observatories of its day and age, located on a little island just offshore in the middle of the North Sea, that was Tycho Brahe's hangout, you know what I mean? And he was heavy into the sky, with a copper nose, know what I mean?

So this is the story of Tycho Brahe assembling his observatory. One day he says to the King, "You know, there's a lot going on out there. Those little white dots you see may control your destiny." And the King says, "I can dig it, Tycho. What can I do for you, my boy?" Tycho Brahe says, "Well, look here, King. I need the biggest, juiciest, most succulent telescope you ever laid your regal eyes on." And the King says, "What do I know from the telescope?" Tycho says, "Don't worry about it, I've got you covered. Let me tell you. If you will just procure for me the world's largest cardboard linoleum pole, and have it shipped over here, I will put together an observatory on your behalf that will allow me to make astrological predictions, as well as astronomical computations, and that's gonna put you on the charts. What do you think about that?" And the King says, "I can dig it, Tycho."

So he used his connections, and got ahold of the Armstrong Linoleum Company, and says, "Hey, Mr. Armstrong, send me the big tube." Well, they didn't have airplanes then, so they had to ship it by boat. So here comes the big tube on a barge across the sea, poor thing nearly withering away from the salt spray, getting soggy around the edges. But because it was a large and valiant tube, it took its little tugboat ride in stride. And when it finally landed on the banks of this scabrous little island off the coast of Denmark, where they were gonna build the observatory, Tycho himself helped to haul it off the boat, and took it up to his laboratory, where he warmed it in front of a fire to take some of the wrinkles out of it and got it all spiffed over, till he thought it was really making it.

Then he said to the King, "I need me a lens, because in order to look up there, you need more than a big tube, you need something to make the dots bigger." And the King says, "What do I know from a lens?" And Tycho Brahe says, "You ever heard of Coca-Cola?" And the King says, "Yeah, I can dig it." "Right, six cases of empty Coke bottles and a glass furnace right away." So he melts down the Coke bottles, and he gets a bunch of Danish coolies to buff it until it looks just like a big lens. And he stuffs it in the end of the linoleum roll, and peers out of it into the sky. And he gets out his charts, and his diagrams, and his big tweezers, and he [xxx] thing in the chart like that, and he scratches the back of his head and goes, "Hmm, you know what, King? I think I've got your prediction under control."

He steps away from the telescope, goes over to the King and he says, "I'm gonna tell you your future. And all it's gonna cost you is one observatory. And your future consists of this: you're gonna meet a tall, dark, handsome stranger in the Wichita, Kansas, Greyhound bus depot men's room." And the King says, "Hmm. I have never heard of this place. Perhaps it indicates a new conquest for the Danish people."

So the King goes away to meditate on his astrological computations. And becoming so enthralled with the prospect of the Danish people taking over Kansas, he proceeded to roll it into a tube, stick it over his putz, and whack it until the broad daylight. Meanwhile, Tycho, industrious little copper-nosed freak that he was, turns the swivel of his observatory dome in the direction of the King's bedroom window, and trains his enormous cardboard telescope right in there and watched the King doing it.

Tycho Brahe!

And to this very day, the photograph that Tycho Brahe took through the cardboard tube of the King in his bedroom beating it formed the basis of all of the Danish pornographic literature masterpieces.

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