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September 27, 1996 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-09-27

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A benefit at the NAC
Delta Chi fraternity and Not Another C e are sponsoring a special con-
cert tonight at 9 o'clock. The show w I feature local bands Dave Dale
and Blues Control and Blue Highway, s well as Ohio rockers 5th
Wheel. Proceeds will benefit UNICEF. o come on out, have some fun
('cause it's always a rockin' good ti at the NACi) and support a
good cause. Admission is a mere $3 efore 10 p.m. and $5 thereafter.

September 27, 1996

'Weird Al'

wacks out at Hill

King of parody brings polkas and fun to Ann Arbor

By Brian A. natt
Daily Arts Editor
"Multi-platinum rock star" isn't the first thing
that comes to mind when you think of "Weird
Al"Yankovic. His long, kinky black hair, silver-
frame glasses and Hawaiian shirts may fool you,
but the accordion-toting King-of-Parody shined
brighter than any star at his Wednesday
performance at Hill Auditorium.
Touring to promote his 10th and
most successful record to date, "Bad
Hair Day," Weird Al brought a
thrilling evening of new material and
classics to town. Playing greats like
"Eat It" "Like A Surgeon" and "Fat'
and more recent classics like "Amish
Paradise" and "Smells Like Nirvana,"
the lucky audience got to see pop
music's top parodist at his best.
Before the show, Weird Al had a chance=
to sit down and chat with The Michigan Z1
Daily about his phenomenal career and how -
he has been able to outlast quite a few of
the artists he's parodied since he began
recording albums 17 years ago.
Al's musical career dates back to
October 1966, when his parents con-
vinced their 6-year-old son to take accor-
dion lessons. "My parents decided that they
wanted me to be really popular in high school, so
they thought I should take accordion lessons so I
could be a chick magnet," 36-year-old Yankovic
said. "My parents were ahead of their time. They
realized accordion music would revolutionize
popular culture by this point in the millennium.
They wanted me to be at the forefront of that

While Yankovic's accordion hasn't necessarily
revolutionized pop music as we know it, he's
made his mark by satirizing popular music and
by writing his own wacky tunes.
"I always enjoyed rock 'n' roll more than the
stuff they were teaching me in accordion
school," he said. "You take accordion lessons,
they teach you 'The Lady of Spain,' classical
pieces, things like that - but they don't
teach you rock 'n' roll stuff for the most
part. After I stopped taking lessons, I
started playing by ear and playing along
with the songs I heard on the Top 40
radio, and basically taught myself
to play rock 'n' roll on the
accordion. None of my
friends really were eager to
have me join their band as
an accordion player, so I
eventually had to come
up with a group on my
own, based around me."
As far as poking fun at
rock music, Yankovic said
it's something he started
doing at a young age and he
still hasn't been able to give it up.
"I think most 12-year-old boys
listen to the radio and make fun of the
songs and change the words around and things
like that," he said. "It's a phase most kids go
through, and for one reason or another, I'm still
going through it."
Some of Al's parody highlights include his
Michael Jackson spoofs "Eat It" and "Bad," "My
Bologna" (a parody of The Knack's "My
Sharona"), "Spam" (R.E.M.'s "Stand") and

"Yoda" (The Kinks' "Lola").
"I pick songs that are fairly popular, songs
with a strong lyrical or musical content,"
Yankovic said. "Ultimately, it usually boils
down to whether the artist has a sense of
humor and whether or not I have a clever ides
for it."
"Certainly now that I've developed a track
record, most people realize that when I do a par-
ody, it's all done in good fun," he said. "It's real-
ly viewed by many as a tribute and a compliment
and a sign that they've achieved a status in the
pop community. In the beginning of my career,
it was difficult to get my phone calls returned,
but now they're usually excited when they get
my call."
The first single off "Bad Hair Day," a hilari-
ous parody of Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise,"
titled "Amish Paradise," gave Al a few problems
after its release. The song, which satirizes quaint
Amish life ("As I walk through the valley where
I harvest my grain / I take a look at my wife and
realize she's very plain / But that's just perfect
for an Amish like me / You know I shun fancy
things like electricity."), angered Coolio after its
"That was very unfortunate because I was
under the impression and I was told that he was
OK with the parody, that he approved it,"
Yankovic said. "This is one of those instances
where my people were talking to his people, and
apparently something got lost in the translation."
Aside from the Coolio incident, Yankovic said
most artists are honored to have him parody
their songs. Michael Jackson gave Yankovic his
first big break when he allowed his hit "Beat It"
to be parodied for Al's 1984 smash "Eat It"
"I never thought he'd say OK to tell you the
truth," Yankovic said. "That was one of those
cases where I figured it never hurts to ask.
Michael Jackson ruled the universe back in
1983, '84, and I figured he'd never consider
something like that. But he was very sweet and
had a terrific sense of humor and gave me the go
ahead, which actually was the first big turning
point for my career. After Michael Jackson gave
me permission, then all of the sudden I had some
leverage and told everybody else, 'Well Michael
Jackson said it was OK."'
Two years ago, Al was faced with a major
dilemma with one of his finest parodies, "Smells
Like Nirvana" (a parody of Nirvana's "Smells
Like Teen Spirit"), regarding the death of Kurt
Cobain and whether he should continue to play
the song live.
"I really had to wrestle with my conscious for



Polka-it-up, Al!

a while," Yankovic said. I was thinking, is it in
bad taste to keep playing this song ? I felt really
bad about it, but I eventually decided that since
Kurt was a fan of the song and he felt honored
by the fact that I was doing a parody, it wouldn't
be in bad taste to perform the song. I'm not
mocking or knocking Nirvana - I'm a big
Nirvana fan. A ad Kurt certainly didn't have a
problem with it, so I view it more as a celebra-
tion of his work and music and I hope his fans
take it as such."
While he's probably most famous for his par-
odies, Al has a number of great original funny
bone ticklers. The love song "One More Minute"
captures Al at his finest: "I'd rather have my
blood sucked out by leeches / Shove an ice pick
under a toenail or two / I'd rather clean all the

bathrooms in Grand Central Station with my
tongue /Than spend one more minute with you."
"The parodies are Casier to write because with
the originals I have to write the music as well
and come up with the demos for the band,"
Yankovic said. "There's a lot more work
involved. But also I'm actually closer to the
originals because there's more of my personality
in them. But I enjoy both and get a charge out of
doing both and do about a 50-50 blend on the
So has Al always been this funny? "I wasn't
really considered the class clown,"Yankovic said
of his schoolboy days. "I was more the high
school nerd. I had straight As all through high
school. I was one of those kind of guys you copy
off of during class and then beat up later in PE."

Weird Al examines an ice sculpture backstage at Hill Auditorium.

Soprano Valente, pianist Raim unite for 'Briefly it Enters'

By Stephanie Love
For the Daily
The 118th season of the University
Musical Society opens impressively
with a solo recital by distinguished
American soprano Benita Valente. The
concert features the World Premiere of
William Bolcom's Song Cycle "Briefly
it Enters" based on the poems of Jane

Originally from Ann Arbor, Kenyon
lived in New Hampshire where she died
of cancer in 1995. Her poems reflect an
intense connection with nature, an inte-
gral part of her life. Valente has selected
complementary works by Schumann,
Brahms, Strauss and Wolf, also featur-
ing nature themes for the rest of the pro-
Benita Valente is an internationally

celebrated interpreter of chamber
music, oratorio and lieder, as well as
being equally acclaimed for her perfor-

Opera National Council Auditions and
has participated in the prestigious.
Marlboro Festival in addition to collab..
orations with instrumental greats such

mances on the
Encompassing a
wide array of
styles, her reper-
toire ranges from
the Baroque of
Bach and Handel
to the varied
idioms of today's

operatic stage.

( Benita Valentine
& Cynthia Raim
Tonight at 8 p.m. at Rackham
Tickets: $20-$32, Call 764-2538

as cellist Yo-Yo Ma.,

Goode and


Raim among others.

View African art from Detroit's
finest private collections in African
Form and Imagery: Detroit Collects,
on exhibit through January 5, 1997.
This wood standing male fisure comes from the Sonsye people of Eastern Zaire

leading composers, making her one of
the most sought after orchestral soloists
over the last two decades.
A California native, Valente has won
acclaim since winning the Metropolitan

Performing with nearly every gregt
orchestral conductor over the past 20
years including Seiji Ozawa, Robert
Shaw, Leonard Bernstein, Sergiu
Comissiona and Kurt Masur, Valente

has performed with every great' sym-
phony in the United States as well as
many of the renowned symphonies of
Canada and Europe.
While Valente is particularly loved by
connoisseurs of song literature, the oper-
atic stage has figured prominently in her
career. Her long association with the
Metropolitan Opera has won her acclaim
since her debut in 1973. In recent years,
she has been acclaimed for her perfor-
mances with Opera Pacific, the Los
Angeles Music Center Opera and the
Santa Fe Opera. As guest soloist for the
inaugural concert of Lincoln Center's
Mostly Mozart festival, she has returned
almost every season since and appears
regularly at Tanglewood, the Mann
Music Center, and in Europe, at the
Vienna, Edinburgh and Lyon Festivals.
Equally impressive is Valente's
recorded repertoire, which includes six
highly regarded albums, three with
pianist Cynthia Raim featuring Wolf,
Strauss, Handel, Mozart and Schubert.
Valente has two solo albums and has
recorded symphonic works including
Beethoven's "Symphony No. 9,' with
the "Atlanta Symphony" and Mahler's
"Symphony No. 2" with the London

Symphony. Her recording of Haydn's
"Seven Last Words of Christ" received a
Grammy nomination, and she earned a
Grammy award for her recording of
Schoenburg's "Quartet No. 2," both per-
formed with the Juilliard String
Quartet. Valente may also be heard on
the recently released "A Se
Symphony" by Vaughan Williams an
a recording of Faure and Debussy songs
will soon be released.
William Bolcom, a faculty member of
the School of Music since 1973, received
the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for music and is a
member of the American Academy of
Arts and Letters. A piano soloist,
Bolcom is represented on many record-
ings, has written a book on Eubi Balke
and is published by several music maga*
zines and the "New Grove Dictionary.'
In addition, he has received commissions
from the Vienna Philharmonic, New
York Philharmonic and Philadelphia
Orchestra among others.
Raim, winner of the Clara Haskill
International Piano Competition, is
greatly acclaimed for her recital and
concerto appearance and has appeared
as a soloist with leading orchestras in
Detroit, Pittsburgh, Prague and Vienna.

Related education programs:

Saturday, October 12 * 2 p.m.
Works from African Form and Imagery are
discussed regarding the original context for which
they were created. Free with museum admission.

Saturdays, October 12, 19 and 26
11 a.m.-1 p.m. (adults)
Explore varieties and meanings of hairstyles and
headdresses in Africa in this adult class.
SFee: 0;members, sseniors, students $24.



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