Running With Scissors, “Weird Al” Yankovic’s tenth studio album, was released on June 29, 1999. Not as strong as 1996’s Bad Hair Day, but infinitely better than 2003’s Poodle Hat, Running With Scissors features parodies of The Offspring, Barenaked Ladies, Puff Daddy, and Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, and a polka medley that pokes fun at the Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, Beastie Boys, Hanson, Matchbox Twenty, and more.
The most enduring song from the album, however, is a parody of Don McLean’s 1971 hit, “American Pie.” Yankovic took the song and transformed it into an ode to George Lucas’ Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
In addition to all the parodies, Yankovic shows his chops as a songwriter with six original compositions in various styles. My personal favorite of these is the 11-minute opus “Albuquerque” that closes the album.
I have loved “Weird Al” since I first discovered his music in elementary school, though he has currently stopped performing in concert a couple of the songs that drew me to his brilliance—“Eat It” and “Fat,” both parodies of Michael Jackson hits. He has not decided whether he will retire them permanently or not, but with the renewed scrutiny of Jackson’s alleged indiscretions, Yankovic has decided to remove them from his current repertoire.
Tom Petty was an iconic songwriter, with fans young and old. I love Tom Petty’s music, but his last album I really heard was Songs and Music from “She’s the One” from 1996. I have no doubt that I would love everything else he recorded in the past 20 years, but I never felt compelled to seek it out. Regardless of my own negligence of his recent craft, his impact on the world of music was huge. Artists from genres as diverse as country to horror punk have covered Tom Petty songs. Here are some of the best that I have tracked down.
JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Tom Petty covered edition
- “Breakdown” (Suzi Quatro, If You Knew Suzi)
- “Free Fallin'” (John Mayer, Where The Light Is: John Mayer Live In Los Angeles)
- “I Won’t Back Down” (Johnny Cash, American III: Solitary Man)
- “Here Comes My Girl” (Relient K, is for Karaoke)
- “Runnin’ Down a Dream” (Wedensday 13, Bloodwork)
- “You Wreck Me” (Taking Back Sunday, Covered, A Revolution in Sound)
- “Don’t Come Around Here No More” (Dave Stewart & His Rock Fabulous Orchestra, The Dave Stewart Songbook, Vol. 1)
- “American Girl” (Matthew Sweet, High School Reunion: A Tribute to Those Great 80s Films)
- “I Need To Know” (Middle Class Rut, Pick Up Your Head [vinyl])
- “Refugee” (The Chipmunks, Chipmunk Punk)
- “Stop Draggin’ My Car Around” (Weird Al Yankovic, Weird Al Yankovic)
One of the greatest American rock bands of all time, Aerosmith raised the bar for hard rockers in the 1970s and shocked the music world with a massive comeback in the late 1980s. More than three years ago, I gave the band the “Ultimate Mixtape” treatment, picking my favorite song from each album released by the group.
Countless artists have offered up their renditions of the Bad Boys of Boston’s greatest hits. In this Ultimate Mixtape, I will attempt to collate some of the greatest and most interesting Aerosmith songs covered by other bands. I’m sticking only to officially released songs, and my personal preference is to avoid live versions. While tribute albums are fair game, only one song per tribute is allowed on this compilation. Further, no artists will be duplicated, and each song will only be represented once. So hit play on the YouTube videos below, click the links to buy some records, and rock out like you’ve never rocked out before!
JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Aerosmith covered edition
- “Walk This Way” (Run DMC, Raising)
- “Sweet Emotion” (Leo Kottke and Mike Gordon, Sixty Six Steps)
- “Dream On” (Ronnie James Dio and Yngwie Malmsteen, Not The Same Old Song & Dance)
- “Toys in the Attic” (R.E.M., Dead Letter Office)
- “Same Ol’ Song and Dance” (Black ‘n Blue, Without Love)
- “Seasons of Wither” (Tesla, Real to Reel, Vol. 2)
- “Draw the Line” (Testament, Signs of Chaos: The Best of Testament)
- “Back in the Saddle” (Sebastian Bach featuring Axl Rose, Angel Down)
- “Rock in a Hard Place (Cheshire Cat)” (Puny Human, Revenge is Easy)
- “SOS (Too Bad)” (Eric Singer Project, ESP)
- “Fever” (Garth Brooks, Fresh Horses)
- “Cryin'” (Otis Clay, Sweet Emotion: Songs of Aerosmith – Blues on Fire)
- “Living in the Fridge” (Weird Al Yankovic, Alapalooza)
We’ve all heard the story about Van Halen and the brown M&M’s. But have you ever heard David Lee Roth sing about it? Of course not. If you want to know what is in a rocker’s heart of hearts, you have to listen to what they sing. Here’s a rundown of ten of the deepest desires of rock legends…
- The Ramones, “I Just Want To Have Something To Do” — Doesn’t everybody? Especially kids when they’re not in school. I swear, three days into summer break, my kids start in with the “I’m bored” bit. Every year. (For the record, so did I.)
- Ratt, “I Want A Woman” — Any woman in particular, Stephen?
- KISS, “I Want You” — That’s a little more specific, I suppose, as long as “you” knows who she is.
- Cheap Trick, “I Want You To Want Me” — Not only want, though…need. Sounds a bit clingy if you ask me.
- JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, “Want More” — While Van Halen recognizes that “Everybody Wants Some,” this Chicago R&B group readily admits they “Want More.”
- Queen, “I Want It All” — Selfish much?
- Def Leppard, “All I Want Is Everything” — There is just no pleasing some people. Keep in mind that Mick Jagger and the boys said, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Sorry Joe.
- Weird Al Yankovic, “I Want a New Duck” — How is that for specific? Not a swan. Not an eagle. Not a goose. Weird Al just wants a new duck.
- Weezer, “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” — Thanks for being proactive, Rivers.
- Twisted Sister, “I Wanna Rock” — This is the essence of every true rocker’s soul. And I’m happy to say, Dee Snider, that you do rock. You got what you wanted.
Every day since last Monday, Weird Al Yankovic has released a new music video to promote his latest album, Mandatory Fun. Have you been keeping up with the Weirdness? Not all of the videos are available on YouTube yet, so here are some links for you to check them out:
- “Tacky” (a parody of “Happy” by Pharrell) [released on Nerdist]
- “Word Crimes” (a parody of “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke) [released on Vevo]
- “Foil” (a parody of “Royals” by Lorde) [released on College Humor]
- “Handy” (a parody of “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea) [released on Yahoo]
- “Sports Song” (a humorous take on college fight songs) [released on Funny Or Die]
- “First World Problems” (done in the style of the Pixies) [released on PopCrush]
- “Lame Claim To Fame” (reminiscent of Southern Culture on the Skids) [released on Amazon]
- “Mission Statement” (in the style of Crosby, Stills & Nash) [released on The Wall Street Journal]
The Weird One also appeared on Conan O’Brien last week, performing a horrendously lip synched “Tacky” (yes, I believe that was a part of the joke, since lip synching is so tacky).
My favorite video so far has been “Foil.” I love the original song, so there was no issue of overlooking the music to get the humor. And the humor is where it’s at. Weird Al’s genius is on full display as he takes a conspiratorial turn in the second verse. Plus, seeing Patton Oswalt and a couple of the guys from Reno 911 was a definite bonus.
This is a very strong album from Weird Al, but there are a few losers in the mix. “Mission Statement” is dry and boring, “Jackson Park Express” is long and rambling, and “My Own Eyes” just flat-out doesn’t work. But that’s why we have skip buttons on CD players (for those of you who, like me, are old enough to still prefer CDs). Overall the album is enjoyable and will get many plays in my Weird Al Yankovicathons.
Don’t tell me I’m the only one who plays Weird Al until the wife threatens to shoot me.