HEY FOLKS! I AM GOING TO TALK
about a song on the Ultra Zone record called
“Frank.” Basically, the song was dedicated to
Frank Zappa, in whose band I had the unbelievable
privilege of working in the early ’80s.
It was an amazing experience as you can imagine;
I started working for Frank when I was 18,
transcribing music while I was living in Boston
and going to Berklee. He was a very honest
guy and he was right on. He was probably the
most intelligent man I’ve ever met. Music just
flowed from him.
Despite the title, the song itself really has
virtually nothing to do with Frank’s music. When I came up with the main riff, which
was a simple one, there was something about
it that was very special to me. That’s all I
had but I kept playing it over and over
because I loved the way it made me feel when
I played it. Whenever I had the opportunity
to spend time with Frank, recording or listening
to music at his house, I would always
feel uplifted after. Sort of like walking on air.
The feeling I get when I play this song is similar
to how I felt as I drove away from Frank’s
house on those special nights. It was an
elated sense of well being.
It starts out with this clean little intro
part. When you’re doing it, you want all
those notes to come out and ring as long
as possible without sounding too aggressive.
In recording this guitar part I just built
it piece by piece, making sure that every
riff had that same feeling of joy that I felt
when I would leave Frank’s house.
Steve Vai is the co-author of Steve
Vai Guitar Techniques, a new online
course at Berkleemusic.com. Learn more at