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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 Read the rest of this entry

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