Monday, 2 February 2009

Get Serious...Like Weird Al

In my humble opinion, one of the greatest lyricists of today is "Weird Al" Yankovic.

No, seriously.

As well as being an accomplished singer, accordionist (still being serious!), composer, arranger, video editor & director in his own right, what makes him stand out is the incredible level of artistry he brings to his parodies. His commitment to rewriting would put most worship songwriters to shame, especially when you reflect that we are writing for 'God's glory' rather than just entertainment (thought there is nothing wrong with entertainment in itself).

In an article in Wired magazine, Brian Rafferty writes of receiving a zip folder from Al

It contained hundreds of pages of lyrics, notes, and various working drafts of the songs on his latest album, Straight Outta Lynwood. In the final version of "White & Nerdy," Yankovic sings that he's

"Got people beggin' for my top eight spaces / I know pi to a thousand places."

Earlier versions include:

"Got people killin' for my top eight spaces,"
"Gotta lotta Hobbits in my top eight spaces,"
"Got Stephen Hawking in my top eight spaces."

All told, there are more than 200 unused lines for "White & Nerdy." By the time he was finished, he'd reclaimed Chamillionaire's original so thoroughly, listeners didn't even need to know "Ridin'" to appreciate "Nerdy."

Weird Al reminds me that great worship songs are not written, but rewritten and in honour of this master songwriter I've decide to do a short series of posts highlighting his work.

I'm not promising I'll post one a day, but it should be a lot shorter than the average John Piper series. Seriously.

Related Posts: Serious Like Weird Al

Part 2 (Jerry Springer/One Week)
Part 3 (The Saga Begins/American Pie & Ode To A Superhero/Piano Man)
Part 4 (Bob & palindromes)

In the meantime - do you have a favourite Al moment?


  1. My favorite Al moment was when he came strutting over to me during a concert while he was singing "Wanna B Ur Lovr" and briefly rested his ankle on my shoulder while he sang to me. And someone sent me a picture of the moment!

    You're absolutely right about Al as a lyricist. He picks up rhymes, rhyme sounds, tropes from the original lyrics and completely skews them around to his own purposes. He's mindful and meticulous. Once I even suspected he matched up his lyrics to the original artist's video... at least, in Usher's "Confessions, Part II" video, when he slid across the floor on his knees and ended up embracing his girl with his face at her waist, the lyric from Al's "Confessions, Part III" that matched up was "And when I'm kissin' you I fantasize you're a midget!" which I thought was pretty funny. ~OE

  2. "And when I'm kissin' you I fantasize you're a midget!"

    You're right - that is a thing of beauty.

    Thanks 'OE'

  3. "can't fit in a phonebox, never seen my toes, when i go to the movies i take up seven rows,
    because i'm fat!"
    to the tune of 'Bad' my micheal jackson

    its a classic line and really captures the angst of the song!!

    phil j

  4. Thanks Phil

    My favourite Fat lyric is

    When I go to get my shoes shined
    I gotta take their word

    and I love the bit with the toy windmill in the video.


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