Weird Al: The Book by Nathan Rabin with Al Yankovic

January 31st, 2013 by Brian Leave a reply »

Weird Al’s Off the Deep End album was the first CD that I ever bought. I had heard some of his songs on the radio, but for the most part I knew them from kids singing them at school.

That was twenty years ago and now I feel old.

It’s great that Weird Al is still going strong and releasing platinum albums. His creativity and musical talent are unquestionable (okay, so maybe you can question it, but if you’re a student of music, you get some of the subtle things that he does while making it look easy). Weird Al: The Book captures that creativity and humor in a light read.

The closest thing that came to controversy in Al’s life was his one-sided feud with Coolio over “Amish Paradise”, but that settled itself pretty quickly. Lacking controversy, the biography instead delves into the journey that Al had to go through to get noticed – and to stay noticed – as a parody artist. The photos and commentary are great, especially for those of us who can remember him as the guy with the giant poof of hair and thick glasses. (Little known fact: part of why Al changed his look was so that he could slide into characters easier. The moustache and glasses were too distinguishable.)

Rabin is a writer for The Onion and he delivers on the expected sarcasm. What will be interesting is watching students use it for a biography project. There are die-hard fans in the next generation, which is so fun, and some have asked for this book. I’m just waiting for some student to quote the sarcasm in their paper. Hopefully they catch its intended purpose.

This is a great book for a great artist. When Lady Gaga finally allowed Al to parody “Born this Way” (it was her manager that actually had said no without running it by Gaga), Lady Gaga said that she was excited because it was her rite of passage as an artist. That says something, that Weird Al is still so much part of our pop culture experience.


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