“Weird Al” Yankovic wrapped up the first show of his two-night stand at New York’s Apollo Theater by covering “Close To You” by the Carpenters, but on the following evening, he went in a very different direction by tackling Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s 1969 classic “Cinnamon Girl.” Even more surprising, it marked the first time in his entire career that he played guitar in front of a live audience.
“Tonight is a very, very special night for two big reasons,” he told the crowd before playing the song. ” One is: On this next song, I’m going to make my guitar-playing debut. My whole life, I never learned to play the guitar. I figured, you know, I’ve been in entertainment, I’ve been a recording artist and a professional musician for most of my life, and I should know how to play the guitar. So, for the last several months, I’ve been studying and learning how to play the guitar so that I could debut it at the Apollo on this next song.”
Every night of Yankovic’s ongoing tour has featured a different cover song in the encore slot. They have included everything from Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music” to Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting,” Cheap Trick’s “Hello There” and Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309.” Yankovic never featured cover songs in his show before, but this is his Ill-Advised, Vanity Tour where he’s centering the evening around his original, non-parody songs.
“Weird Al” has never parodied a Neil Young song, but they do have thing in common: They both briefly dated singer Nicolette Larson.