This Expanded Edition features even more insights on “Weird Al” Yankovic, including his activities during a tumultuous 2020 and 2021, diving deeper into the world of the iconic man who has made a career out of making us laugh.
Funny music is often dismissed as light and irrelevant, but Yankovic’s fourteen successful studio albums prove there is more going on than comedic music's reputation suggests. Lily Hirsch weaves together original interviews with the prince of parody himself, creating a fresh take on comedy and music’s complicated romance. She reveals that Yankovic’s jests have always had a deeper meaning, addressing such topics as bullying, celebrity, and racial and gender stereotypes. The Expanded Edition celebrates Yankovic’s vast influence on musicians, comedians, and performing artists as well as what the man has meant to fans—in a time of uncertainty, Yankovic has served as a much-needed bright spot for many.
From his love of accordions and Hawaiian print shirts to his popular puns and trademark dance moves, Weird Al is undeterred by those who say funny music is nothing but a low-brow pastime. And thank goodness. With his good-guy grace still intact, Yankovic remains unapologetically and unmistakably himself. Reveling in the mischief and wisdom of Yankovic’s over forty-year career, this book is an Al-expense-paid tour of a true comedic and musical genius.
Lily E. Hirsch is the author of Weird Al: Seriously. She has written five books on topics ranging from Jewish music's history to music in criminal law. When not teaching or writing as visiting scholar at California State University, Bakersfield, Hirsch blogs at insultingmusic.com. She lives in Bakersfield, California.
Foreword, by Dr. DementoIntroduction—Still Weird AlChapter 1—This Is the LifeChapter 2—The Prince of Pop ParodyChapter 3—Policing and Playing with LanguageChapter 4—Sugar and Spice and Everything Almost NiceChapter 5—The Art of Self-DeprecationChapter 6—President AlChapter 7—He's a CrowdChapter 8—Junking GenderChapter 9—Al-most FamousConclusion
Music writer Hirsch celebrates the career of music comedian Alfred “Weird Al” Yankovic in this thoroughly researched debut biography. Best known for his parodies, Hirsch argues that Yankovic is much more than a comedy act, and that his songs allow listeners to “be whoever you are” . . .this is the perfect volume for all who proudly rock out to Weird Al.
[Hirsch] combines a close reading of Yankovic’s work with thorough research, explaining that his success is rooted in both his clever turn of phrase and his willingness to take on complex themes. The author searches for deeper meanings, asking probing questions: What is Yankovic saying about race, religion, and gender? What is really going on in “Angry White Boy Polka”? While this scholarly treatment may sound too serious for such entertaining fare, Hirsch keeps the tone energetic . . . and livens the text with funny anecdotes and interviews with Yankovic and his band members. VERDICT This engaging read skillfully documents the hard work that goes into being silly; readers will emerge with a newfound respect for Yankovic.
There's something dangerous about serious analysis of comedy, but musicologist Hirsch's look into the discography of pop parodist 'Weird Al' Yankovic keeps things fun. After a brief look at his influences (including Dr. Demento, who wrote the introduction), she mines literary and social criticisms and, backed up by an exhaustive survey of Yankovic in the media, dissects his work to prove that he is more than just a novelty act.... Hirsch is clearly a fan, and her geeking out over Yankovic's terrible (wonderful) puns and keen (and keenly juvenile) sense of the absurd will endear the book to readers who are fellow Al-colohics.
Hirsch insists that it is high time that we look at, listen to and talk “about the various aspects of Yankovic’s art that merit serious attention,” to move the reader to revisit Yankovic’s music and listen with fresh ears.... Hirsch [makes] a good case for Yankovic’s artistic bona fides while still keeping things hopping.
So happy to see Weird Al getting the recognition he deserves. He’s one of my favorite spirits, entities, performers, and I hear he’s an incredible family man. Also that hair, gotta love that hair.
Weird Al is as smart as he is zany, and his parodies are clearly born of a deep love of music, which is the secret ingredient of successful satire. In her fine new book, Lily Hirsch offers an engaging exploration of Weird Al's place in the cultural landscape.
Weird Al: Seriously is a bracingly smart, incisive book about a wonderfully, transcendently silly icon who also happens to be a super-genius. It’s an eminently worthy addition to the growing body of literature on Al that gives Al his due as an artist and national treasure. As someone who has spent a LOT of time over-thinking every element of Al’s career I am in genuine awe at just how much thought and care Hirsch has put into her work.
Too easy is Weird Al dismissed as unimportant, but artists who take art and twist it into something fresh and new deserve their own accolades! In Weird Al: Seriously we can truly appreciate the message behind the mask and the man behind the clown.
I thought I knew everything there was to know about the man called Weird Al, but it turns out I was wrong. A more in-depth analysis awaited me in the pages of Weird Al and the resulting appreciation for my musical hero was only amplified by the insight found within. Weird Al is much more than a year-by-year biography of Weird Al Yankovic, in fact it’s everything but that…. What’s fascinating is the sheer amount of research that has gone into dissecting Al’s musical influence, as Hirsch seems to have read every single interview from print, to television to online outlets that ever referenced Al and arranges them with ease…. If you were ever a Weird Al fan or just want to examine the evidence as to why he wasn’t left behind in the 80’s as a one-gimmick wonder, Weird Al has everything you could ask for and then some.
11/3/21, Accordion Noir Radio: Lily’s book inspired this three-episode series on the Weird Al media ecosystem with featured guests like Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz, Nathan Rubin, and Lauren Carey.
Episode 1 (11/3/21): https://accordionuprising.wordpress.com/2021/11/04/accordion-noir-2021-11-03-weird-noir-yankovic-episode-1-with-lily-e-hirsch/
Episode 2 (11/10/21): https://accordionuprising.wordpress.com/2021/11/11/accordion-noir-radio-playlist-2021-11-10-noir-al-yankovic-episode-2/
Episode 3 (11/17/21): https://accordionuprising.wordpress.com/2021/11/17/accordion-noir-2021-11-17-weird-al-yankovic-the-final-chapter/
3/17/22, New Books Network Podcast: Musician Franz Nicolay interviewed Lily Hirsch about the book.
3/25/22, Beer’d Al Podcast: Lily talked about Weird Al and writing a book about him in this episode.
4/13 & 4/20/22, Dave & Ethan’s 2000” Weird Al Podcast: Lily Hirsch went in-depth about what’s new in the expanded edition during this author interview.
Part 1: http://2000inch.com/episode-154/
Part 2: http://2000inch.com/episode-154/
4/18/22, Songfacts: Lily Hirsch was interviewed about the book and the enduring relevance of Weird Al in this blog post.
5/2/22, 1980s Now Podcast: Lily Hirsch talked about Weird Al and the experience of writing her book in this episode.
5/5/22, The Retro Network: Lily Hirsch’s book was reviewed in this (Weird-Al-memorabilia-filled!) feature.
5/10/22, Authority Magazine: Lily Hirsch talked about the lessons she took away from writing the book and the social impact power that comedy can have in this author interview.
6/10/22, What Is This Music?! Podcast: Lily Hirsch talked about the book and the power of music in this episode.
6/15/22, The Bakersfield Californian: Lily Hirsch and the book were featured in this article.