Weird Al on “Pac-Man”, Paul McCartney and being a “super spreader of joy”

Famed musician, producer, and actor “Weird Al” Yankovic joined host Kenneth Womack to talk about his songwriting process, Beatles parodies, new tour and more on “Everything Fab Four,” a podcast hosted by me and Womack (a music scholar who also writes about pop music for Salon) and distributed by Salon.

Yankovic, who has been playing the accordion since childhood, did not grow up in a very musical household. His father is not “polka king” Frank Yankovic, despite what many have mistakenly believed. As he tells Womack, he was “vaguely aware” of the Beatles when he was young, but when a fellow student brought a 7-inch vinyl of the single “Hey Jude” to grade school, he asked his mother if he a. She laughed and said songs were free on the radio, then Al decided that “one day, when I’m super rich, I’ll own EVERY Beatles album!”

RELATED: The World According to “Weird Al” Yankovic, Who Has Always Been More Than a Novelty

Yankovic started his career by recording comedy songs in his bedroom in the 1970s as a teenager and handing cassette tapes of them into the hands of broadcaster Dr. Demento, who eventually brought them to national attention on his show. “No one else would have given me that exposure,” Al says.

Knowing the chord structure of pop songs, Yankovic spent hours listening to the radio getting ideas, sticking to tunes with strong hooks, and then making up funny twists on them to record. After parodiing hundreds of artists over the years, The Beatles have remained his band of choice, and he has stories of being “rejected” by Paul McCartney for his take on “Live and Let Die” (it’s not what people think). !) and by George Harrison’s attorney for “Pac-Man,” his parody of the Beatles’ “Taxman” (which the Harrison family later approved for release on Al’s 2017 compilation album). Hear those stories, and more, in the full conversation:

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And since then, Yankovic has worked on a video project with Paul McCartney (“one of the few people that still gets me starstruck”), played “What is Life” at George Fest in 2014, and also has a part in the brand-new video released for Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord.”

As Yankovic prepares to go on tour, he says his comedy has never been “mean” and that he hopes, like the Beatles, to be a “super spreader of joy.” As each generation discovers them, he truly believes that “pound for pound you’ll never find a better pop band.”

Listen to the entire conversation with Weird Al on “Everything Fab Four” and subscribe via Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google or wherever you get your podcasts from.

“Everything Fab Four” is distributed by Salon. Host Kenneth Womack is the author of a two-part biography of Beatles producer George Martin, the bestselling book “Solid State: The Story of Abbey Road and the End of the Beatles” and “John Lennon, 1980: The Last Days in the Life “. .”

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