Wandering through the past with Weird Al

Weird Al cassettes

My original Weird Al cassettes. Missing from this photo is WEIRD AL YANKOVIC IN 3-D. I’m pretty sure it’s down there in those bins, but I couldn’t find it. Now that I think about it, I also have ALAPALOOZA. I didn’t see that one down there either.

It’s been said that smell is the strongest of the human senses in terms of its connection to memory; that a smell can bring back a person, place, or emotion more effectively than any of the other senses.

But I’d argue that music is right up there with smell in terms of evoking certain memories. How many times have you heard a song and thought, “oh man, every time I hear this I think of [insert memory here]”?

While my mother was a musical person (this is really an understatement since music was her career), she was also very careful about what kinds of music she’d let her kids listen to. We were pretty much relegated to show tunes, orchestral and choir pieces, film scores, and the Maranatha! brand of Christian music that was on the rise in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Anything outside of that—and especially secular rock music—was pretty much a “no-no.”

This doesn’t mean, though, that we kids didn’t find clever ways to get everything from Madonna to Def Leppard into the house. We used to put the stuff on cassettes and give it some moral-sounding label, like “Children’s Hymns.” No one had any idea.

Until one of our babysitters gave us the cassette Weird Al Yankovic in 3-D and someone didn’t hide it well.

Weird Al cassettes

My original Weird Al cassettes. Missing from this photo is WEIRD AL YANKOVIC IN 3-D. I’m pretty sure it’s down there in those bins, but I couldn’t find it.

Somehow—perhaps it was because I was the oldest—I was the one that was responsible for smoothing the waters. I explained to her that this was funny; that it was completely innocent because it made fun of modern songs. She not only bought it, she was open to listening to it.

To my surprise, she enjoyed the album. What shocked me most was that her favorite song was “Nature Trail to Hell”; the tune not only had the word ‘hell’ in it, it was pretty graphic in skewering the gory slasher movie phenomenon that was all the rage in the mid-1980s.

There was some kind of irony in that, I thought. The least innocent song on the album turned out to be the one she not only heralded as the most humorous, she made me put it on in the car everywhere we went. The memories of those quick trips to the pharmacy, bank, or grocery store remain some of the strongest of my mother—probably because of that song.

As years went on, Weird Al remained a part of my life. “Yoda” championed my days on the Honor Society with my friend Susie Brush. “UHF” was that song I blasted on the highway back and forth between my early days at the University of Rhode Island and home. “Jurassic Park” was with me when I lived in Narragansett and waitressed at the now-abandoned Larchwood Inn, “She Drives Like Crazy” was my summers on the lake, and “Skipper Dan” was the theme for serving as a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding.

When I met my husband Nathan, I discovered he was a huge fan of Weird Al as well. I was over the moon when I was able to get tickets to the Connecticut stop on his Strings Attached tour, and we had a blast creating new memories with old songs.

Confetti falling

The final moment of Al’s performance on the Strings Attached tour featured a confetti cannon. I love this shot! Nathan took it.

Our getaway to the Weird Al Strings Attached tour

For information and a review of the concert itself, visit here: https://www.post-gazette.com/ae/music/2019/07/08/Weird-Al-Yankovic-benedum-center-strings-attached-tour-review/stories/201907080068

Here’s a list of my top favorite Weird Al songs (and a couple of my husband’s favorites, too!) and where you can listen to them on Weird Al’s official YouTube channel.

“The Brady Bunch”

(Parody of “The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats)

“Weird Al” Yankovic in 3-D – 1984

https://youtu.be/HUN-D8N_XhE

 

“Buy Me a Condo”

(Original)

“Weird Al” Yankovic in 3-D  – 1984

https://youtu.be/ZcJjMnHoIBI

 

“King of Suede”

(Parody of “King of Pain” by The Police)

“Weird Al” Yankovic in 3-D  – 1984

https://youtu.be/Gl1vulzQDwU

 

“Theme from Rocky XIII (aka: The Rye or The Kaiser)”

(Parody of “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor)

“Weird Al” Yankovic in 3-D  – 1984

https://youtu.be/0iwedkOmTGc

 

“Nature Trail to Hell”

(Original)

“Weird Al” Yankovic in 3-D – 1984

https://youtu.be/6d4VwmGSJUM

 

“Dare to Be Stupid”

(Original)

Dare to Be Stupid – 1985

https://youtu.be/SMhwddNQSWQ

 

“Yoda”

(Parody of “Lola” by The Kinks)

Dare to Be Stupid – 1985

https://youtu.be/8xqXucPKPqw

 

“Addicted to Spuds”

(Parody of “Addicted to Love” by Robert Palmer)

Polka Party – 1986

https://youtu.be/ad0w59lBfXU

 

“Here’s Johnny”

(Parody of “Who’s Johnny?” by El DeBarge)

Polka Party – 1986

https://youtu.be/NdnuGDt04es

 

“Toothless People”

(Parody of “Ruthless People” by Mick Jagger)

Polka Party – 1986

https://youtu.be/v453Z-GR-38

 

“Christmas at Ground Zero”

(Original)

Polka Party – 1986

https://youtu.be/t039p6xqutU

 

“Fat”

(Parody of “Bad” by Michael Jackson)

Even Worse – 1988

https://youtu.be/t2mU6USTBRE

 

“Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies”

(Parody of “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits)

UHF – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Other Stuff – 1989

https://youtu.be/0WPzFnZkZmI

 

“UHF”

(Original)

UHF – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Other Stuff – 1989

https://youtu.be/NUi926ses94

 

“She Drives Like Crazy”

(Parody of “She Drives Me Crazy” by Fine Young Cannibals)

UHF – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Other Stuff – 1989

https://youtu.be/4PdqNHyEyXY

 

“Jurassic Park”

(Parody of “MacArthur Park” written by Jimmy Webb as performed by Richard Harris)

Alapalooza – 1993

https://youtu.be/gh4zvQfDhi0

 

“Frank’s 2000” TV”

(Original)

Alapalooza – 1993

https://youtu.be/gbDostWXpcU

 

“Amish Paradise”

(Parody of “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio)

Bad Hair Day – 1996

https://youtu.be/lOfZLb33uCg

 

“The Night Santa Went Crazy”

(Original)

Bad Hair Day – 1996

https://youtu.be/0FJU4GrXztE

 

“White and Nerdy”

(Parody of “Ridin’” by Chamillionaire featuring Krayzie Bone)

Straight Outta Lynwood – 2006

https://youtu.be/N9qYF9DZPdw

 

“Don’t Download This Song”

(Original; parody of 80s charity songs like “We Are the World”)

Straight Outta Lynwood – 2006

https://youtu.be/zGM8PT1eAvY

 

“Craigslist”

(Original, but parodies The Doors)

Internet Leaks – 2009

https://youtu.be/y4sALru9IJk

 

“Skipper Dan”

(Original)

Internet Leaks – 2009

https://youtu.be/a0cCRRFi1aA

 

“Tacky”

(Parody of “Happy” by Pharrell Williams)

Mandatory Fun – 2014

https://youtu.be/zq7Eki5EZ8o

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About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in countless magazines and anthologies. She has received three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies, served as a co-editor for Read Short Fiction, has judged both writing and grant competitions and co-hosts the Dark Discussions Podcast. Her work Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole is a collection of ghost stories set in Disney Parks; her novel, Bad Apple, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She’s also a member of the New England Horror Writers Association. More info: www.kristipetersenschoonover.com

Posted on July 28, 2019, in Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I remember when White n Nerdy came out. I laughed so hard!

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