Flashback: ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Reimagines Gandhi as an Eighties Action Star
Former AV Club head writer Nathan Rabin released his new book The Weird Accordion to Al a few weeks back. It’s a monumental work that breaks down every single song Yankovic has released across his 40-year career, encompassing everything from big hits like “Eat It” and “Smells Like Nirvana” down to rarities like the “extra gory version” of “The Night Santa Went Crazy” and spoof songs he made for TV shows like “Homer and Marge” and “30 Rock Theme Parody.”
Rabin previously teamed up with Yankovic in 2012 when he penned his official memoir Weird Al: The Book. In recent years, the author has gone song-by-song through Yankovic’s catalog on his website Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place. Yankovic was so flattered by this level of exhaustive analysis that he agreed not only to write the intro to The Weird Accordion to Al, but also to personally copy-edit it.
“I honestly found The Weird Accordion to Al very enlightening,” Yankovic writes. “I honestly had absolutely no idea how incredibly awesome I was until I read this book. And I’m sure you’ll enjoy it too, particularly if you like words like ‘ineffable’ (used 5 times) and ‘oeuvre’ (used 23 times).”
The book even delves into each track on the soundtrack to Yankovic’s 1989 cult classic UHF. That includes the Gandhi II skit where Al’s manager, Jay Levey, portrays Mahatma Gandhi very much against type as a gun-toting, steak-eating hothead straight out of an action movie. “Just as Al previously invented hardcore, postmodernism, MTV, the Internet, Nerdcore and mashups,” Rabin writes, “I’m going to lazily assume he also invented the idea of including snippets of dialogue on a soundtrack, and that Quentin Tarantino stole the idea for Pulp Fiction.”
There hasn’t been a new Weird Al album since Mandatory Fun six years ago. He has since worked as the bandleader on Comedy Bang! Bang! and launched three separate tours. He’s been quiet since the end of his Strings Attached orchestral tour in September, so here’s hoping he’s somewhere right now plugging away at new material. “Old Town Road” is screaming for a parody and he’s the guy to make it happen. It’ll also gave Rabin material for a bonus chapter in his book somewhere down the line.
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