August 13, 2003
Weird Al

Tiffany and I and a few friends, including Ted, saw Weird Al Yankovic in concert last night at the Verizon Theater. It was the second time we'd seen Weird Al at that theater, the last time while he was on tour for his Running With Scissors album. As with the last show, we had a heck of a good time.

I suppose people either "get" Weird Al or they don't. Personally, I'm a big fan of funny songs and song parodies. Before the show, I said that there were any number of Weird Al parody songs that I preferred to the originals - in fact, there's quite a few where I can hardly listen to the original without hearing Al's voice. We all agreed with that sentiment, and admitted further that there were a few songs that Al had done where it was years before we'd ever even heard the original.

One of the (sadly, many) ways that I can tell that I'm depressingly far down the road of decrepitude is how unfamiliar I am with many of the hit pop songs that Al spoofs nowadays. I've usually heard of them - or at least, I've heard of the artists - but stuck as I am in my rut of demographically-appropriate radio stations, I've never actually heard them. Fortunately, though Al actually pays a lot of attention to little details (compare his "Smells Like Nirvana" video to the original some day and you'll see what I mean), understanding the subtle points is not a prerequisite to laughing at what he's doing. Anyone can enjoy "A Complicated Song" or "Pretty Fly For A Rabbi", and there's plenty of Al's own compositions to go along with them.

A Weird Al concert features more costume changes than Cher's this-time-I-mean-it farewell tour. Various video clips, including scenes from UHF, Al's various TV and movie cameos, and faux interviews conducted by Al with hilariously inarticulate and incoherent pop stars like Avril Lavigne, Justin Timberlake, Celine Dion, and Eminem, play during these interludes. Al lampoons a lot of rappers these days - Coolio ("Amish Paradise"), P-Diddy ("It's All About the Pentiums"), Nelly ("Trash Day"), and of course, the Real Slim Shady himself ("Couch Potato") - and he really gets into character when doing these songs. It probably says something about me that I like Al's versions but can't stand the originals, but I'd rather not explore what that may be.

Believe it or not, Al will be eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year - his career officially started in 1979 with the release of "My Bologna", meaning his 25th year in the business is 2004. Al himself says "I think my chances of ever making it into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame are about as good as Milli Vanilliís", but I think he sells himself short. Any "novelty act" that's still going strong after a quarter century, never mind one that's permeated the pop culture lexicon as thoroughly as Al has, should be a first ballot shoo-in. I hope that when his next tour comes though town, he will have been so honored.

UPDATE: Greg Wythe was in attendance as well, and he liked what he saw, too. Wish I'd known beforehand that you were going to be there, Greg, but I missed your post yesterday about it. Sorry!

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 13, 2003 to Music | TrackBack
Comments

I thought "Another One Rides the Bus" was played on the Doctor Demento before My Bologna was recorded. At least that's what I thought I heard on "Behind the Music". ;)

Actually, that reminds me of what we need on radio: A return of the Doctor Demento / Wolfman Jack type of radio show (no, Don Imus is not channeling Wolfman Jack anymore). Two to three hours of pure silliness would be welcome on the airwaves.

Posted by: William Hughes on August 13, 2003 9:46 AM

Worse than any possible snub by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which inducted the Lovin' Spoonful for crying out loud, is the fact that "UHF" didn't get nominated for a single damn Academy Award.

Posted by: Pete on August 13, 2003 9:47 AM

Thanks for the blast from the past -- I mostly listen to non-parody music these days but I loved Weird Al as a young man. Also Joe Pop-o-pie, my fave for several years of high school and college.

Posted by: Jeremy Osner on August 13, 2003 10:41 AM

Last summer my wife and I ran into a guy in Montana who was Wierd Al's professor in college. Apparently at one time Al was studying to be an architect or engineer, but it was clear that his heart wasn't in it. He said he was very quiet and shy in class, nothing that indicated he would be a performer.

Posted by: Patrick on August 13, 2003 11:38 AM

Weird Al definitely rules, the only person who could out-Devo Devo ("Dare To Be Stupid"). And didn't Michael Richards get Best Supporting Actor for UHF for his touching portrayal of mop-obsessed Stanley Spadowski?

Posted by: Norbizness on August 13, 2003 12:56 PM

Hey...! (Tooting my own horn:) I worked as a Production Assistant on 'The Compleat Al' back in the 80's. The videos 'Like a Surgeon' and 'Dare to be Stupid' were shot during this production.

And, my ultimate claim to fame: my feet are one of the pairs seen in 'Dare to be Stupid' being used as drums.

Posted by: Bhaal on August 14, 2003 6:35 AM

amish paradise has to be jut about the funniest song that i have ever heard!

Posted by: kstarr on May 29, 2004 7:53 PM

just so everyone who happens to visit this site, knows i DO know how to spell JUST and i know that it is not spelled *jut.

Posted by: kstarr on May 29, 2004 7:57 PM

Hey everyone. Since the topic of Al getting into the Rock Hall has been discussed here, I should mention that a number of us fans are trying to peacefully badger the hall's foundation in order to help get him inducted. If you want to help, please check out our web site: www.dohtem.com/al

Posted by: Greg on October 5, 2004 7:32 PM