17 June 2009

My unabiding love for....Wierd Al

I have a confession to make: I really enjoy listening to Weird Al. SHHHH!! Don’t TELL anyone!
I recently found a copy of the 1985 Weird Al album “Dare to be Stupid” at the library, and I can’t remember that last time a simple library find brought me so much joy. Unlike many of the CDs I find at the library, which are “important” or “groundbreaking” (like Bob Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde”), I actually enjoy listening to this CD. It doesn’t claim to be important, or memorable. It’s simply silly for silly’s sake, which I think we can all use a good dose of these days.
Even when he isn't funny, Weird Al is still funny. He's been entertaining 13-year-olds for nearly thirty years now, which is no mean feat, given how fickle that particular demographic can be. He's like the old Chevy pickup of the music business: he may not be the most flashy thing to come along down the highway, but he's reliable, well-made, and will get you from point A to point B with minimal fuss. His lyrics are well written, and the backing band always spot on. Yes, I've given this thought.
Listening to this album brings me back to the days of riding the bus sophomore year, when my friend Paul Victorey and I would share a pair of headphones to listen to his extensive Weird Al collection. There we’d be, tittering away at something no one else could hear, having a ball in the most socially humiliating way possible. These memories make me smile, because it’s the calm before the storm that was my junior year, when I traded Weird Al for anti-depressants, and I didn’t ride the bus with Paul anymore. For these brief, shining moments, I felt like a child, light and free – free to indulge in a song like “One More Minute” (sample lyric: “I’d rather jump naked onto a huge pile of thumbtacks/ Stick my nostrils together with crazy glue/ I’d dive headfirst into a pool of double-edged razor blades/ Then spend one more minute with you”).
Those aren’t the only Weird Al memories I’ve got. During the summer of 1992, my cousin John Michael and I practically wore out his copy of the Weird Al album with the parody of Nirvana’s “Nevermind” on it. We’d set up a boom box by the tree swing at the summer cottage our families rented for a week, and sing along to every word. At age 12, there’s not much more than you can ask for than Weird Al, a Hi-C or two, and a tree swing. Bliss.
I am fortunate to have married a Weird Al fan. Karla and I actually saw him at the Minnesota State Fair in 2007, and he put on a hell of a show. Even when a song might not have been as funny as it was 20 years ago, he poured his heart and soul into it, even going so far as to don a fat suit for the song “Fat” and dancing with a chorus of Imperial Storm troopers for his Star Wars-inspired take on Don McLean’s “American Pie.” He never stopped moving the entire time he was on stage, and he never stopped giving his audience what they wanted. It was a really great show.
So yes, if you drive by a green car blaring “I Want a New Duck,” it’s probably me. But I can guarantee you that there’s more fun in doing that than there is talking about John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps,” Patti Smith’s “Horses,” or other pompous critic-rock. There needs to be silliness in a world that takes itself too seriously 99 percent of the time, and Weird Al is the doctor to administer the cure.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You never mentioned the greatest song Weird Al made, "Trigger Happy!" We'll shoot first and ask questions later.