‘Weird Al’ Yankovic ‘biobi’ parody tells his life story — sort of: NPR


“I’m a very shy person by nature,” says Al Yankovic, shown here in 2014. “Being somewhat famous has helped me be more social and talk to people.”

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“I’m a very shy person by nature,” says Al Yankovic, shown here in 2014. “Being somewhat famous has helped me be more social and talk to people.”

Casey Carey/Invision/AFP

Al Yankovic – aka The Parody Artist Strange Al– He wants to change the way you think about the accordion. He first learned to play the instrument as a child in the 60s. Even then, he admits, the accordion didn’t have a great reputation.

“It was mostly polkas, waltzes, waltzes, and different classical pieces,” he says. “It was hard getting into my friends’ rock bands… For some reason, nobody wanted an accordion player in their band.”

So Yankovic forged his way by teaching himself to play rock and roll on the accordion. Decades later, as a parody artist, the Machine would enter a number of his songs, including “My Bologna(similar to The Knack’s “My Sharona”) and his Polka mix Of the songs of the music Hamilton.

“The accordion is actually a beautiful instrument, a very sensual instrument,” Yankovic says. “I’m just trying to bring sexy back to the accordion.”

Music “Autobiography” parody amazing stars Daniel Radcliffe In a fantastic version of Yankovic’s life. In the film, composing the words to songs that already exist is a visionary’s work, and playing the accordion is like being a guitar champ and asking Yankovic to be the next James Bond.

Although Yankovic did not achieve the status his character did in the movie, he was very successful. He is the third musical artist, after Michael Jackson and Madonna, to have a Top 40 single in every decade since the 1980s, with parodies such as “all of which,“”Like a surgeon“,”Amish Paradise” And the “White and nerdy. “

Yankovic says that although courts generally rule in favor of parody artists, he never parodies another musician’s material without first obtaining the original songwriters’ blessing: “If an artist doesn’t want me to do his song, I’ll back out. No matter what you say Courts or the law, I just want to do good by them because I respect artists and I never want them to feel like I’m stepping on their toes.”

Interview highlights

On being a nerd

You know I’m a fool. I didn’t really fit in at school or with my friends. I would eat lunch alone at the lunch tables a lot. So I didn’t think I was a social butterfly or a big campus guy. I was a nerd. This back before nerd was considered cool. Like, nowadays, people are like, “Oh, I’ve always been a geek or brag about their authenticity.” And when you were in high school, it wasn’t something to brag about.

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About his “alien” character

This title was given to me in the dorms in my first year of college. It was a nickname I think two people were calling me because they found me weird. I didn’t fit in and they thought I was just a weird guy walking around the halls. And they said, “Oh, there goes the stranger.” It was kind of a snub at the time, but I decided to take it professionally when I started working on college radio because everyone on the air needed some kind of weird nickname. And I thought, Oh, she’s already got a weird nickname. It’s weird Al. So it was Weird Al’s show every Saturday night, and it just went off. …

When I perform, especially on stage, I am more eccentric and open, I think, than I am in ordinary life. But it’s not like having a completely different person on stage.


Daniel Radcliffe plays Yankovic in the movie amazing.

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Daniel Radcliffe plays Yankovic in the movie amazing.

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On his parents’ support for him to pursue music

[My mother] He told me more than once that there are “Hollywood villains” and I have to be very careful. And she is not mistaken. But she was a little worried about doing anything related to show business. But I was always very thoughtful. It’s not like I ran away to L.A. to be a rock star or anything like that. I went to college. I got my degree in architecture. I remained a fairly good student and was an adult minded adult.

In fact, I didn’t quit my day job until I was on the Billboard charts. So I guess they knew I wasn’t a kid with stars in his eyes, and I would do this crazy thing for a living because I didn’t think I’d be able to make a living out of it either.

in satirical rap

I can understand why some people think this is a problem. But I think the fact that I respect music so much goes a long way toward making people feel better, because I don’t make fun of rap or hip-hop. I really take pains to mimic the sound and intonation. And in fact, I’ve had a lot of nice compliments, like from Chamillionaire. when i did [the “Ridin’ ” parody] “White & Nerdy”, really impressed with my rapping skills. …

I’m not being like, “white guy rapping, hahaha” – that’s no joke. I only use music to do comedy, as I have done with any other music I’ve ever done in my life. And I love doing rap for a number of reasons, one of which is that there are a lot of lyrics to play with because for a lot of pop songs, it’s limited because it’s either repetitive or there aren’t a lot of syllables. And I have to be very short on humor and jokes because I only have a limited space in which to be funny. But in rap, there’s a lot of lyrics and it just opens it up and gives me more breathing room.

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On the sudden death of his parents from carbon monoxide poisoning in 2004

As best we can find out, the flue in the hearth was sealed. There was a fire in the fireplace. I think they went to sleep not knowing it and they both died from carbon monoxide poisoning. My wife called me. I was on the road at the time, so you called me. The phone was handed over on our tour bus and my wife was crying and telling me it was the worst moment of my life. …

I was literally in the middle of touring, and I definitely didn’t want to perform that night or anytime in the near future. But I realized I had a small army of people working for me. I’ve had people buy tickets for all of these seats, and I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. So I kind of wanted to keep it under wraps. I wanted to grieve in private and quietly and not even let people know what was going on, because I didn’t want people walking on eggshells around me. I didn’t want ostensibly people to come to a comedy show, and watch a guy try to suppress his grief on stage. So my initial thought was, well, okay, I’m going to somehow review these shows, but I don’t want anyone to know what’s going on. But within the hour, it was like world news and everyone knew it.

I did a tribute to my parents… before the concert and then passed by. And, you know, for two hours every night, I’d just try to smile and pretend my life wasn’t falling apart and do the show. … I just wanted to do my job and then get back on the bus and grieve quietly and honestly. It was a little bit therapeutic for me because it felt good to have the love pouring in from the fans because the fans knew what was going on in my life. And it was really nice to have them respond supportively. And it kind of helped me move a little bit from where I was.

How did it feel to become famous?

It was a little weird for me because I’ve always had an outsider, especially in the beginning because I was just a geeky kid from L.A. who played the accordion and made fun of all the people on the inside… rock stars, pop stars, all these celebrities. And here this stupid kid was making fun of them. And now all of a sudden, I found myself inside that bubble. I was at the same awards shows, sometimes the same parties, rubbing elbows with people I was making fun of. So that was a bit of an adjustment. I’m still kind of getting used to it. It’s kind of weird.

I am actually a very shy person by nature. And being somewhat famous has helped me to be more social and talk to people. I mean, I’ll always be the one to, like, stick to the wall at parties and wait for someone to come over and talk to me — which is nice, I have a bit of a reputation for — because now people do: people will come up and talk to me.

Heidi Saman and Susan Nyakundi produced this interview and edited it for broadcast. Bridget Bentz, Molly Seavy-Nesper, and Beth Novey have adapted it for the web.

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