“Weird Al” Yankovic has made a career out of satirizing pop music, but after 32 years and 14 albums, he’s finally ready to pursue his true calling: Authentic American folk music. The (former) king of pop parody stopped by The Late Late Show on Monday, where he chatted with guest host Thomas Lennon and debuted his new act with a bold, chilling performance (the full episode is available to watch above; “Weird Al” goes folk at 33:10).
“What I’ll say is, going forward, I just want to write songs about things that matter — people living free, people riding the rails,” Yankovic declared as Lennon picked out a folk melody on the guitar. “I want to pay tribute to the greats of American folk music: Johnny Cash, Pete Seeger, the guy that played Potsie…”
So with Anson Williams in mind, “Weird Al” embarked on a stirring rendition of a Woody Guthrie classic — not one of the hits, but a deep cut with curiously anachronistic lyrics detailing Yankovic’s upcoming world tour. While “Weird Al” assured Lennon several times the song was authentic, he finally fessed up after the line: “Spread the word across this land of freedom, tell your brothers in a voice that’s strong and sure, you can buy your tickets on the ‘Weird Al’ website for ‘Weird Al’ Mandatory Tour!”
With the jig finally up, Lennon said he was not interested in partaking in the singer’s plug, not for reasons of artistic integrity (he was in Boat Trip, the musician pointed out), but because, “You’re doing like a hundred dates and my hand is cramping up.” As a compromise, “Weird Al” busted out his trusty accordion and the duo jammed as every date of the Mandatory World Tour scrolled by quickly on screen.
“Weird Al” kicks off his Mandatory World Tour with a five-night stint May 12th through the 16th at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas before crisscrossing North America throughout the summer and into autumn. The sprawling trek is in support of the comedy singer’s 2014 LP, Mandatory Fun, which became the first of his career to reach Number One on the Billboard 200 and recently won the Grammy for Best Comedy Album.