Lots of people in my circles have been sharing “Weird Al” Yankovic’s new song parody video “Word Crimes.” The lyrics are smart and funny, and the video images are just a hoot. I am sure that some too-serious language commentators (who, frankly, are starting to get on my nerves as much as the oh-so-wrong pedants) will quibble about some of the ideas the song pushes about grammar. I won’t, though. “Weird Al” is A-OK with me. I am pleased that many other people are enjoying the video and the lyrics as much as I am.
But, as much as I love “Word Crimes,” it’s Al’s parody of corporate jargon that speaks most to me in my current life as a copy editor on publications for CPAs. “Mission Statement,” set perfectly in the style of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, uses all those words such as “synergy,” “proactively,” and “leverage” to great effect. He nailed the pile-on nature of today’s marketing argot. I laughed right out loud.
The return of “Weird Al” and his brilliant parodies warms my heart for another reason. My son, Jake, would be thrilled about this new album, Mandatory Fun. He would have downloaded it the minute it was available this week and probably would have played it through several times by now. I wish he could be here to see the videos and read the stories about one of his musical and comedy heroes, but Jake died almost five years ago when he was 20.
Hearing Yankovic this past weeknd on NPR reminded me of the time that Jake and a friend, both of whom were on the autism spectrum, got tickets to see Yankovic in Raleigh, about a 20-minute drive from our home. (I checked Jake’s blog for the date; it was in early August 2007.) It was one of the first times that Jake had stepped out on his own to go to a concert, and it was exciting and a little scary to watch him and his friend drive off. They had a blast (Al walked right by their aisle seats), and Jake came home with a T-shirt that read “White and Nerdy,” from a favorite “Weird Al” parody. It makes me smile (and cry a little, too) to think of how much my smart, sweet, funny son enjoyed those songs.
Thanks, Al. I am glad you’re back.