Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

Wow, I've been a Weird Al fan for 33 years. An appreciation post!

It took me until recently to really figure out what makes the "Weird Al" Yankovic song "The Saga Begins" work so well for me:

Al took the modern, melodramatic myth of George Lucas's Star Wars, sang about it to the tune of Don McLean's "American Pie," one of the most densely symbolic, thought-provoking, and theatrical pop songs ever written, and...


...and was completely matter-of-fact about it. Al's delivery is the musical version of "Yeah. That happened." "And in the end, some Gungans died/ Some ships blew up and some pilots fried/ A lot of folks were croakin'/ The battle droids were broken..."

Comedy is surprise. Al has made a hell of a career finding that surprise. On his first album, he sang about the then-newlywed Prince Charles and Princess Diana in a blues song. (Prescient, sadly, but Al had no way at the time of knowing that.) "One More Minute" takes doo-wop, a song genre full of love songs, and makes it a bitter, messy "get lost" anthem. His Beastie Boys-style version of the jingle "Twister" sounds a lot like the Beastie Boys but is completely unlike the band because the Beastie Boys eventually made a point of not selling their songs for jingles. His Bob Dylan tribute "Bob" embeds the song's joke in its own title; I admire that commitment to the idea. He took Jim Steinman/ Meat Loaf musical melodrama and applied it to a song about how annoying email forwards are. When writing his 2014 album Mandatory Fun, Al considered turning the Frozen anthem "Let It Go" into a song called "Make It So" (about Capt. Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation Starship Enterprise), but dropped the idea when he found someone had already done it. It wouldn't be enough of a surprise.

I'll keep looking forward to how Weird Al surprises us in the future. Meanwhile, the song, why not.


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