I just saw this article at Wired News, and had to share it with my legion of loyal readers. That is, after last month's Spore-induced Blogging Lameness, if you're still here, this means you.
It's an article on Weird Al, and how he's been adjusting to (among other things) the changes in the music industry over the last three decades. That's right, he's been kicking his betters around since the very tail end of the 1970s. And with very few exceptions, he's outlasted all of them.
(Will he outlast Madonna? Still an open question, but I think the smart money says yes. They're both in pretty good shape, but I suspect Weird Al has a larger fan base, and they're more rabidly loyal.)
The thing about it, is that Weird Al--by all accounts--is a genuinely good person. He's not just in it for the glory and celebrity; he's in it because he genuinely enjoys making his fans laugh, using the same kinds of jokes that he finds funny. He revels in being so uncool, that he redefines what cool is and is not. For generations of high-school nerds (among whose number I was counted), he was the one who let us know that, "Y'know--you don't have to play the popularity game. You can mock the cool people instead--and not only is it okay, not only is it really fun, you'll have plenty of company when you do--And they're all a bunch of weirdos, just like you."
I got to see him once in the early '90's, at a concert in Fresno. This was shortly after the movie UHF came out. The concert was an absolute, rocking blast. I seem to remember that the band that opened for him was called The Neanderthals, and their big hit song (it was a hit in Fresno, at least) was "I Like Legos! Lincoln Logs Suck!" done in a very loud punkish style. After they got through, Weird Al's troupe came on and did their thing, and it seems from the linked article that he hasn't changed his methods very much in the fifteen years or so since I saw him. Not even the fat suit. Some things just get better with age, I suppose.
Anyway, take a look at the article. Be careful which youtube links you click on, however; the article documents the fact that he has lots of imitators and competitors now, and not all of these use clean lyrics. In particular, the Star Wars Gangsta Rap is pretty disgusting. And the earlier of Yankovic's efforts are mighty strange. But reading the article, I had a good trip down memory lane to my own nerdy upbringing.
And I'd forgotten just how funny his lyrics to "Another One Rides The Bus" were.