Two Pals’ Man of the Year 2014: Weird Al Yankovic

binkleyPal, we are fast approaching the end of the year and I am sure that, like me, you are thinking about your best of 2014 list. With this post, I wanted to get a bit of a head start on a 2014 highlight that I think needs its own featured discussion.

In 2014, we witnessed a monumental conclusion. The end of something that started way back, when I was a kid. It is one of my earlier memories.

Picture a young fresh faced Pal on a hot summer Sunday. I was in the backyard playing one person ping pong. This involves tilting one side of the ping pong table up so it acts as a wall to ping your pong against. A perfect pong returner. My most vicious opponent. To paraphrase Mitch Hedberg, that table half was fucking relentless.

As I was playing my lonely ping pong game, my brother was listening to the radio in the kitchen. The windows were open and his music became the soundtrack to my game.

It was the Dr. Demento Show.

dr demento

If our many fan is not in the know, this was a show from the early eighties that played nothing but parody or wacky songs. For the life of me I have no memory of what songs he would have played or how the hell he filled an entire show, but I do remember this one song.

This one song, I heard in my backyard while half of a table was kicking my ass at ping pong…It stuck with me. It was Weird Al Yankovic’s “Another One Rides the Bus”. A parody of the Queen song “Another One Bites the Dust”. I had no idea you could do that to a song. Change the lyrics and make them funny. I took notice of this tune. It turned pop music on its head and laughed at how silly it all was.

That song parody was from his self-titled album released in 1983.

Weird_Al_Yankovic_-_Weird_Al_Yankovic

The first album of a fourteen album contract with Sony. Well, 31 years later, the contract is over. Al made good on his deal, and in 2014, he finally released his fourteenth album entitled Mandatory Fun.

weird al 1

To complement the record, Al did something genius. He released 7 music videos, one a day for seven straight days. I recommend checking them out if you haven’t yet.  “Word Crimes” is my favorite.

31 years and 14 albums. The end of a glorious run. As a kid, I loved all of his crazy antics. As I think back on those glory days, I have become nost-Al-gic.

I think of …. red leather jackets….

incompetent first time doctors…

and fat suits…

I would wager that most people of my generation have their own personal Weird Al timeline.  Through grade school with “Eat It” (“Beat It”) and “Like a Surgeon” (“Like a Virgin”)….Later in middle school with “Fat” (“Bad”)….Even in high school Weird Al was there making fun of our angsty adolescence with “Smells like Nirvana” (“Smells like Teen Spirit”)…..And through marriage Weird Al was there (albeit more in the distance) with songs like “White and Nerdy” (Ridin’).

Weird Al Yankovic is an institution. He is just there. Like the CN Tower. A monolith. Always present whether you are seeing it passively in the distance or you are right inside it riding its elevator up to the tippy top.

His influence on people like me is undeniable. In recent years, he started popping up on comedy podcasts. In particular, he shares his quick wit and gracious humour with other comedians on the Comedy Bang Bang show where he has become a regular.

weird al cbb

 

All these comedians, who are roughly my age, are gaga for Weird Al. They all grew up with him too and had the same ear opening reaction to his songs. They are all grown up now and in our current age where nerds rule, Weird Al is the nerd court jester. Performing for the high nerd king. This is evident with the cavalcade of modern comedians in his video for “Tacky” (“Happy”)

Oh I know what you are thinking Pal. He was not a part of your world. You actually don’t like him. I have heard you say “overrated” and “anyone could do what he does”. Aside from how mean that is to perhaps the nicest man on the planet, I beg to differ. My only answer to you is, if it is so easy to do to parody songs, why are there so few people successful at it? His longevity over others proves his awesomeness.

So, I finally wised up and bought Weird Al’s last record. I bought it for my kids. They fell in love with him too. I anticipate they now have their own memory of the first time they heard Weird Al. Hopefully with me injected into to it. Driving down the road scream/rapping the words to “Handy” (a parody of “Fancy”).

First things first, I’m a craftsman
Remodeling is my only passion
And I’m the greatest in the business
Want referrals, yo
My clientèle will bear you witness

Genius

Al turns the mundane into comedy. On paper there is nothing funny about riding a bus. But, when set in front of pop mega hit backdrop and using Weird Al’s words, it becomes instantly funny.

Another one rides the bus
Another one rides the bus
And another comes on
And another comes on
Another one rides the bus
Hey
He’s gonna sit by you
Another one rides the bus

That makes me giggle every time I sing those words

He doesn’t need to make them overly ridiculous (although he does that too). For me, the funny is how he takes these songs off of their high horses and turns them into everyday stuff like eating bologna (“My Bologna” a parody of “My Sharona”) or Rocky Road ice cream (“I Love Rocky Road” a parody of “I Love Rock and Roll”). This is where the genius lies. Not to mention he is a for real musician with some pretty great chops, too.

Pal, let me give you an example of why we can’t do what Weird Al does. I was watching an entertainment news show discussion of Weird Al using Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” and the host said he would have done a song about farting called Gassy instead. Sounds funny, but, it’s too immediate. Too lower denominatory. Choosing “Handy” and talking about carpentry has more legs, more depth, and is less obvious. All of which makes it so much smarter.

From what I have read, throughout his career, especially in the early years. Weird Al was considered a throw away. Maybe never really considered relevant. I think in 2014, we all realized this is not the case. Weird Al Yankovic endures and we should all be grateful for that.

During a recent Rolling Stone interview, his wife interrupted the questioning to tell him that Mandatory Fun got to #1 on the Billboard 200 chart. His first time ever doing that. Al became overwhelmed with emotion and began to cry. I am so glad that we could repay him for what he gave us.

Thanks Weird Al Yankovic.

Because of your intellect, your wit, and your success, we award you Two Pals’ Man of the Year 2014. Congratulations!

So Pal. I named the man. Can you name the woman?

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One response to “Two Pals’ Man of the Year 2014: Weird Al Yankovic

  1. I used to thoroughly enjoy Weird Al and his Michael Jackson parodies. I am not sure that he would be my Man of the Year but he is a musical poet and makes a strong point, even though it seems as if he is simply being silly. An interesting pick. I like it

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