Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Good old days

"Weird Al" Yankovic is probably the most famous song parodist of the modern musical age.

A lot of his song parodies are embedded in pop culture - some notables include Fat, Eat it, Like a surgeon and Pretty fly (for a rabbi).

But those who have heard some of his albums in their entirety know that he is also the master of the style, or genre parody. His favourite genre has always been the polka; he almost always includes a polka of some form on his albums. I still remember how much I laughed when I first heard Bohemian polka, a word-for-word remake of Queen's classic Bohemian rhapsody. But...in polka form.

For me, a lot of his songs transcend parody. The guy is an incredibly underrated musician and lyricist. Sure, it's novelty music. But it's novelty music done to perfection by an accomplished performer and songwriter. Someone has to do this sort of music well, and I'm glad that it's Weird Al.

Have a listen to Good old days, from his 1988 album Even worse.

This is both a musical and lyrical parody. Musically, it takes the piss out of the whole early 70's singer-songwriter genre. It's a country ballad that wouldn't sound too out of place on a James Taylor or Jackson Browne album.

But it's the lyrical content that brings a smile to my face, but maybe that's because I'm a bit warped. The closest reference point is Warren Zevon, whose catchy melodies were mere fronts for his macabre lyrical content. The juxtaposition of the cheery music with the morbid lyrics is something that had to be heard to be believed.

When I was on RocKwiz in early 2005, I told Julia Zemiro that the first album I ever purchased was Even worse. I just listened to the whole album on my lunchtime walk, and it still holds up well over the years. Yeah, it's probably the nostalgia talking. But it's also the quality of songs like Good old days, which bring a smile to my face every time I hear them.

Weird Al is the man.

MP3: "Weird Al" Yankovic - Good old days [Link removed]

Update: Song links removed.