Weird Al Yankovic has just announced the first set of dates for his Australian and New Zealand tour, following the release of his latest album, Mandatory Fun, in 2014.
Weird Al is coming to Australia next year. pic.twitter.com/TbeqF0ut33
— Alex Lee (@alex_c_lee) September 27, 2015
Weird Al spoke with Australian Channel Nine’s Today show, and spilled the secrets on whether he gets permission from the original artists before creating his parody versions.
Although technically Weird Al does not need to seek permission from the original artist before creating his parody version of their song, he prides himself on always having obtained permission in advance. As Mental Floss noted, under the “fair use” provision of U.S. copyright law, Weird Al not need permission to create parody versions of existing songs, as long as royalties are paid.
Some stars, it seems, even seek Weird Al out and request him to make a parody version of their song. According to Today, Madonna is one such musical superstar who was not only okay with Weird Al creating a parody cover, but actually came up with the idea.
Weird Al himself admitted that the story sounds like an urban legend.
“Madonna was talking to a friend of hers, happened to say ‘I wonder when Weird Al’s going to do ‘Like a Surgeon’.”
As fate would have it, the friend that Madonna was speaking to happened to be friends with Weird Al’s manager, and thus the idea was born.
— Brendan McInnis (@BrendanMcInnis) September 19, 2015
But not every music artist has been keen on the idea of a Weird Al parody.
1. Paul McCartney
Weird Al told Today that Paul McCartney would not give him permission to make a parody version of his song “Live and Let Die,” which Weird Al intended to call “Chicken Pot Pie.”
Weird Al was hesitant to tell the story, and it seemed that he didn’t want to come across as if he thought Paul McCartney wasn’t a nice guy or that he didn’t have a sense of humor. In fact, Weird Al seemed to completely understand Paul McCartney’s reasons for not approving the parody request.
“I hate to bring this up. Paul didn’t want me to do it because he’s a strict vegetarian and he didn’t want his music to be associated with a song that glorified the consumption of animal flesh. Paul is a great guy and he’s got a great sense of humour, it was just that one time. I don’t want to put him on the naughty list.”
2. James Blunt
Even James Blunt’s label, Atlantic Records, rejected Weird Al’s request to create a parody of James months song “Beautiful,” which he intended to call “You’re Pitiful.”
Mental Floss reported that James Blunt himself agreed to the parody, saying that it would be a “huge compliment,” but he was overridden by Atlantic Records.
As Today reported, although Weird Al didn’t elaborate as to why his request was refused, he noted that he was quick to back off from the idea.
“I ultimately had to back off [from making a parody of “Beautiful”].”
On the other hand, Weird Al still went on to create the parody song, but only released it as a free digital download, back in the days of MySpace.
3. Led Zeppelin
According to Mental Floss, Jimmy Page, guitarist with Led Zeppelin, said “No” to a polka medley of Led Zeppelin songs, despite admitting that he is a fan of Weird Al’s work.
Although Eminem gave Weird Al permission to create “Couch Potato” as a parody of “Lose yourself,” he went on to deny Weird Al permission to create a video for the parody song, or even to release it as a single.
Weird Al fans have nothing against Eminem, though, as his odd restrictions led weird Al to make this brilliant fake interview featuring Eminem.
We mentioned that there was one artist who, not only did they not give Weird Al permission to create a parody version of any of their songs (despite repeated requests), won’t even allow Weird Al to make eye contact with them.
This may or may not come as a surprise, but we’re talking about Prince. As Weird Al told Today, there was a year in which Weird Al was scheduled to sit in the same row as Prince during the American Music Awards, and Prince sent Weird Al a telegram prior to the event, with some very unusual terms.
“I was not allowed to establish eye contact with him during the show.”
As Weird Al said in an interview with Laughlin Entertainer, he has no interest in relentlessly pursuing record artists who say no to a spoof song.
“If any artist doesn’t want me to do a parody, I won’t do it. I always ask for permission before I do a parody. If they say no, which is extremely rare, I just walk away from it.”
His reason was simple and philosophical.
“Life’s too short and I don’t want the drama.”
[Photo: Kevin Winter / Getty Images]