Published on July 30th, 2013 | by Joe Lawler

“Weird Al” Yankovic, the original master of parody

It’s easy to find music parodies now. Open YouTube and you could spend hours checking out the work of people with an iPhone and Garage Band (The Wanted’s “Glad You Came” becomes “Dad You’re Lame”).

When “Weird Al” Yankovic got his start writing songs like “My Bologna” (“My Sharona”) and “Another One Rides the Bus” (“Another One Bites the Dust”), there was no YouTube. His only real outlet was the
Dr. Demento radio show.

“I can’t imagine anyone else would have given me airtime,” Yankovic said during a phone interview. “If YouTube had existed, it’s what I would have done. In a way, I’m glad it didn’t because there would have been 10,000 parodies called ‘Eat It.’ It was nice to have that market to myself.”

Yankovic, who performs Sunday at Hoyt Sherman Place, also doesn’t have the accordion market to himself anymore. He said his parents picked the instrument for him so he would “be a chick magnet in high school,” but over the last decade it’s popped up in bands like Arcade Fire, the Decemberists, Gogol Bordello and others. Yankovic (who shares a name with, but is unrelated to accordion great Frankie Yankovic) traces the downfall of the instrument to one man.

“I think it lost a bit of its cred in the ’60s through ‘The Lawrence Welk Show.’ I mean no disrespect, but I think that show kind of equated the accordion in a lot of peoples’ minds with square music,” Yankovic said. “In reality it’s a very sensual instrument. The rediscovery has been a slow road, but it’s creeping into a lot of alternative and indie music. It’s nice that it continues.”

Maybe someday “Weird Al” fans will get an album of sensual accordion love ballads. But probably not.

After more than 30 years of performing, Yankovic’s music is still showing that he can go as viral as the current generation. His video for the Lady Gaga parody “Perform This Way” has racked up more than 18 million views on YouTube and Vevo, in part because Gaga originally refused to allow Yankovic to include the song on his album “Alpocalypse.” (She relented after a few days.)

But if you run into Yankovic before or after the show, don’t tell him about how you’ve wished since you were a kid that he would create a parody of (fill in the blank).

“That’s sort of the bane of my existence,” Yankovic said. “Every time I’m out I run into someone who has had an idea in their head since the third grade, saying ‘If I ever run into Weird Al I have to tell him about it.’”

Sorry, you’ll just have to upload your awesome Spin Doctors parody idea to YouTube instead.

“Weird Al” Yankovic

When: 8 p.m. Sunday

Where: Hoyt Sherman Place, 1501 Woodland Ave.

Cost: $39.50-$59.50

Info: Ticketmaster or

About the Author

Joe Lawler covers music and more for Juice Magazine. E-mail him at or follow his updates on Twitter @JoeLawler

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