Jewish Princess

Album: Sheik Yerbouti (1979)


  • A Jewish Princess is a stereotype of a bratty, privileged Jewish girl. This song attracted attention from the Anti-Defamation League, to which Zappa denied an apology, arguing: "Well, I didn't make up the idea of a Jewish Princess. They exist, so I wrote a song about them." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mischa - Winnipeg, Canada
  • There have been several biographies of the inimitable Mr. Zappa, including by Barry Miles, whose book, Frank Zappa, was published by Atlantic Books of London in 2005.
    Herein, Miles says of the song and of the reaction of the ADL and Zappa's non-reaction to the ADL's reaction:
    '"Jewish Princess" brought Zappa up against the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith (ADL), a powerful Jewish lobby group who filed a protest with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to have the record banned from airplay (a rather pointless exercise, as Zappa's album tracks never received airplay anyway), claiming that it contained "vulgar, sexual and anti-Semitic references which leave very little to the imagination."
    Zappa replied: "I used to think that Jewish people had a sense of humour before I got that letter from the ADL..." adding "The ADL is a noisemaking organisation that tries to apply pressure on people in order to manufacture a stereotype image of Jews that suits their idea of a good time. They go around saying that other people are saying things that produce stereotype images of Jews."
  • The ADL was founded in the wake of the trial of Leo Frank in 1913, a case which inspired the contemporary song "Little Mary Phagan" and a later, and far from inspired musical, Parade, which includes such instantly forgettable numbers as "Come On Up To My Office" and "I Am Trying To Remember."
    While the misnamed Anti-Defamation League is an organisation that could find anti-Semitism in an egg cup, it is difficult to take issue with its claim that the song is obscene - it is a rare Zappa song that isn't! - but for once its well-documented wire-pulling had entirely the undesired effect.
    In his 1993 book The Fatal Embrace: Jews And The State, Benjamin Ginsberg relates how in the late 1940s, the ADL would approach the publishers of major newspapers and the owners of radio stations and blackmail them into giving anti-Semitic individuals and organisations [real and imagined] the silent treatment. Their more overt attempt to silence Zappa backfired, for as Miles points out: 'Because of the power of the ADL, "Jewish Princess" received more press than any other Zappa song'. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2
  • Zappa wrote an answer song called "Catholic Girls" for his Joe's Garage album later in 1979. Kelly Fisher Lowe's The Words and Music of Frank Zappa has it that when Zappa got criticized for "Jewish Princess," he wrote "Catholic Girls" as an answer to say, "Fine, they're slutty freaks, too!" Then he either ended up writing the whole opera Joe's Garage around that song, or just chucked it into it.

Comments: 13

  • Skuff from Usa I’m catholic, and he wrote another song about catholic girls. It doesn’t bother me. It’s a joke. And I think it’s funny. I’m not sure it’s anti Semitic. It’s mocking a non existent person for stereotypical characterizations.
  • Kramo from Toronto, CanadaSorry. I thought Zappa was a one-note nudge nudge, wink wink...I'm so talent. And this is anti-Semitic. How come he never wrote a song called Jungle Bunny...with lyrics about how black people smell and can't swim? Oh...that would have been a riot too I guess.
  • Suziecreamchease from Newmarket, United KingdomI was not that impressed when I first heard this song, but since finding out about all of the s--t that the anti-defamation league threw at it, I suddenly love it. Gary above does not seem to realize that Zappa did have a poke at just about everyone - with Jews and girls - with some genuine affection. With Christians and bigots with more of an edge. The more they hated it, the more he loved to do it. "Dead Girls of London" was a classic.
  • Jeff B from Boston, MaOh, please. I'm Jewish and while I was offended by the song the first few times I heard it I eventually learned to classify it with the hundreds of infantile lyrics Zappa wrote once he broke up the original Mothers. During the 70s and 80s, Zappa was the hero of sexually-started, MAD magazine reading teenagers who thought he was so amazingly clever. As you grow older, and stop listening to the lyrics, you hear Zappa's strengths, which were his ability to write and arrange fantastic melodies. Besides, many people have written songs just as offensive to ethnic group. Just listen to Lou Reeds "I Wanna Be Black" for a good example.
  • Gary from Monroe Township, NjThis is a terribly biased article which goes to great lengths to defend Frank Zappa at his immature worst and to paint the anti-defamation league as some kind of extremist organization. How about just admitting that Frank Zappa as talented as he was could also be immature and highly offensive. Every artist has high points and low points. This would not be one of the points one would want to use as an example of Frank Zappa making an intelligent statement with music. Can you imagine the outcry if he wrote a similarly derogatory song about African American women? It's amazing the way people feel the need to make excuses for him. These lyrics go well beyond simply poking some fun or using humorous sarcasm. They are venomous. And furthermore it is highly inappropriate for the writer/composer of this article to go well beyond discussing the song into an indictment of the anti defamation league claiming that they are not what their title suggests and suggesting that they would find anti semitism in a egg cup. The song is very offensive it's just that simple and all of the rationalizing and qualifying and trying to discredit the people who took action against it won't change that. These are not songfacts these are song distortions
  • Michelle from S, PaI am a 16-year-old Jewish girl. And I love this song. Oh, and wouldn't say that I am at all a spoiled brat.
  • Thomas from Somerville, AlI am a Southern man and fit most of the stereotypes. I drink, smoke, and eat fried foods. I live on a mountain in Alabama so I probably won't get washed away by global warming but, I will sit on my mountain with my guns and my generator listening to Zappa and drinking homemade whiskey and smoking home rolled cigarettes..thank you very much!!
  • Stainer from Nyc, NyFrank would be so proud of the discussion he sparked
  • Floyd from Carrboro, NcDarrel, I was just pointing out that there are plenty of Jewish girls out there that are not rich and spoiled. While there certainly are "Jewish Princess's" out there, not every female Jew is one.

    I would also like to acknowledge that there are no doubt a considerable amount of southerners who are addicted to the previously mentioned items. This is another stereotype which does not apply to 90% of North Carolinians. It doesn't really matter though, because even open minded people like myself make fun of southerners.

    Also, I am not really named Floyd. However, you did guess correctly that I'm a pacifist. I'm much to young to be a hippy. I believe that to love everyone would be a great accomplishment, and would no doubt make the world a better place, but it's impossible. I do not love everyone, and neither does anyone else.

    Also, be making my analogy into an analogy, you pretty much just repeated what I said.

    If you would like an explanation of what I meant, here it is:
    There are spoiled Jewish girls out there. Not all Jewish girls are like that. There are also ignorant pricks named Darrel out there. Not all people named Darrel are ignorant pricks.

    Good Day.
  • Darrell from EugeneOK Floyd, saying that your comment that all people named Darrell are ignorant pricks is not the same as me saying that all Jewish girls are spoiled brats, but all Southerners, like yourself are addicted to alcohol, tobacco and fried food, and you will probably be washed away by global warming. I, on the other hand, am safe and sound in Nevada, having left Eugene, Oregon in 2006.
  • Darrell from EugeneFloyd, saying that all people named Darrell are ignorant pricks is like saying that all people named Floyd are pacifist hippy love-everyone softies.
  • Floyd from Carrboro, NcSaying that all Jewish girls are spoiled brats is like me saying that all people named Darrell are ignorant pricks. It isn't true, but certainly applies to a few of them.
  • Darrell from EugeneMischa, all Jewish girls are like that. Think about Chandra Levy and Monica Lewinsky and the silver spoons that were in their mouths when they were born. I know several more just like them.
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