“Goodnight, Austin, Texas, wherever you are” is a line credited to musician Frank Zappa (1940-1993), during an Austin concert at the Armadillo World Headquarters on May 20-21, 1975. The line is partly borrowed from comedian Jimmy Durante’s famous closing line, “Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.”
Zappa’s closing line remains popular with Austin musicians.
Wikipedia: Frank Zappa
Frank Vincent Zappa (December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993) was an American composer, electric guitarist, record producer, and film director. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa wrote rock, jazz, electronic, orchestral, and musique concrète works. He also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed album covers. Zappa produced almost all of the more than 60 albums he released with the band Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist.
Wikipedia: Jimmy Durante
James Francis “Jimmy” Durante (February 10, 1893 – January 29, 1980) was an American singer, pianist, comedian and actor. His distinctive clipped gravelly speech, comic language butchery, jazz-influenced songs, and large nose helped make him one of America’s most familiar and popular personalities of the 1920s through the 1970s. His jokes about his nose included referring to it as a “Schnozzola”, and the word became his nickname.
Durante’s radio show was bracketed with two trademarks: “Inka Dinka Doo” as his opening theme, and the invariable signoff that became another familiar national catchphrase: “Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.” For years Durante preferred to keep the mystery alive, but eventually relented.
One theory was that the phrase referred to the owner of a restaurant in Calabash, North Carolina, where Jimmy and his troupe stopped once to eat. He was so taken by the food, the service, and the chitchat that Jimmy told the owner that he would make her famous. Not knowing her name he instead referred to her as “Mrs. Calabash”.
Another theory was that it was his personal salute to his late first wife, Jeanne Olsen, whom he married on June 19, 1921. She died on Valentine’s Day in 1943. “Calabash” may have been a typical Durante mangle of Calabasas, the Southern California locale where the couple made their home for the last years of her life.
At a National Press Club meeting in 1966 (broadcast on NBC’s Monitor program), Durante revealed that it was indeed a tribute to the first Mrs. Durante. One time while driving across the country, they stopped in a small town called Calabash, which Mrs. Durante loved. He recalled the town as being near Chicago. “Mrs. Calabash” became his private pet name for her, so years later he came to sign off his radio program with “Good night, Mrs. Calabash.” He added “...wherever you are” after the first year.
(Zappa/Beefheart/Mothers, LP, DiscReet DS 2234, October 2, 1975)
Armadillo World Headquarters, Austin, Texas
May 20-21, 1975
FZ: Bruce Fowler on trombone, Napoleon Murphy Brock on tenor sax and lead vocals, Terry Bozzio on drums, Tom Fowler on bass, Denny Walley on slide, George Duke on keyboards, Captain Beefheart on vocals and soprano sax and madness. Thank you very much for coming to the concert tonight. Hope you enjoyed it. Goodnight Austin, Texas, wherever you are!
7 December 1993, Austin (TX) American_statesman, “Austin was special place for Zappa” by Gary Graff and Michael Barnes, pg. F6:
Jody Denberg, program director at KGSR, quotes him every week at the end of his program on new music, Sunday Night News, signing off “Goodnight Austin, wherever you are.”
The Subversive World of Zappa
By Kevin Courrier
Toronto: ECW Press
After an extended guitar solo by Zappa concludes “Muffin Man,” he introduces the band and bids farewell: “Good night Austin, Texas, wherever you are,” paraphrasing Jimmy Durante’s customary good-night wish to Mrs. Calabash.
News 8 Austin
Competition for Texas Music Hall of Fame
2/23/2005 6:34 PM
By: Allie Rasmus
Threadgill’s owner Eddie Wilson has enough music memorabilia to fill an entire warehouse.
If the state had an official Texas Music museum, his memorabilia of autographed Willie Nelson and Frank Zappa album covers are the kind of stuff that could fill it.
“There would be an audio track playing and it would have Frank Zappa ending the album saying, “Goodnight Austin, Texas, wherever you are,” Wilson said.
New York (NY) Times
A ‘Live Music Capital’ Is Hearing Less Music These Days
By MICHAEL BRICK
Published: February 5, 2010
AUSTIN, Tex. — The closing of storied music sites, often accompanied by protest, fund-raising and other exercises in futility, has become a recurring spectacle in this growing city, where the official stationery carries the legend “Live Music Capital of the World.”
People tend to blame the latest influx of Californians, reliably traced to the latest technology boom associated with the University of Texas. The dropout who started Dell Computer in his dorm room did not personally tear down the Liberty Lunch club, but the general implication abides.
Inside the intimate listening room at the Cactus Cafe, arguably the most storied of the storied sites left standing, a sense of invulnerability has developed through three decades of performances.
As the forum wore on, Mr. Powers held his ground. At one point, though, he entertained a suggestion to move the Cactus into an alumni center across campus, calling to mind for seasoned observers the long-ago farewell attributed to Frank Zappa: “Goodnight, Austin, Texas, wherever you are.”