Stevie Wonder was closer to Coolio than Coolio was to Weird Al...

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2012/01/07 07:01 -05:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2012/01/07/10254234.aspx


So I just got off the phone with Andrea a little while ago (it's clear her long habit of ignoring the fact that she lives nine hours continues unabated!).

We've talked probably once or twice a month since the last time I talked about her.

It's just that nt every conversation is "Blog-worthy", if you know what I mean.

maybe this one isn't, either. But I'm running on entirely not enough sleep so more rested folk will have to judge the matter. :-)

As usual, she wanted to talk about song lyrics....

Andrea: It's about a Weir Al Yankovic song.
Michael: Seriously?
Andrea: Well, as serious as a parody can be!
Michael: Ok, which one?
Andrea: Amish Paradise!
Michael: What on earth could be bothering you about the meaning of that one?
Andrea: I'm not exactly sure.
Michael: Sure enough to call me!
Andrea: Well, I know it's a parody, but there is something missing from it.
{pause}
Mchael: Go on....
Andrea: When I think of Like a Surgeon or I Lost on Jeopardy or Eat it, he kept his intensity level the same as the original song, even when the topic was comical.
Michael: I agree. Sometimes that is even an aspect of the parody.
Andrea: Well, there just seemed to be something different in Amish Paradise. I mean, all the elements were there, from singing to the blond to side view sweating, and all of that. Yet it seemed incomplete somehow....
Michael: I know what you mean. There is something different about it.
Andrea: Okay, so what is it? I asked Jacob but he just rolled his eyes and said I should just ask you.
Michael: Well, at the time there was some controversy, since Coolio claimed Al had desecrated the song, though there were some general thematic challenges to the parody (the dark side of gangsta life that is not really a paradise for some pretty tragic reasons versus the sedentary life of the Amish which ultimately leads to an actual paradise) and one major point of the original that wsn't properly paralleled in the parody, which might be why Coolio took it as desecration.
Andrea: Okay I kind of understand the first part of what you just said but I don't understand the second part at all.
Michael: Well they are kind of related. You know the choral part of Gngsta's Paradise where LV directly nails one of the central causes of the why it isn't really a paradise?
Andrea: Who is LV?
{exasperated sigh from me}
Andrea: Sorry, I don't follow this stuff like you do.
Michael: Ok, you know the part that goes: "Tell me why are we so blind to see \ That the ones we hurt are you and me?" right?
Andrea: Vaguely.
Michael: LV did that part and he repeated it three times! It's a fairly central theme, Andrea!
Andrea: Okay, I've got it.
Michael: That was also a big deal in the original Stevie Wonder song Pastime Paradise: "Tell me who of them will come to be \ How many of them are you and me".
Andrea: I'm going to pretend I knew about that.
Michael: Well, Weird Al just dismissed it with a minor, non-repeated Gilligan's Island allusion: "There's no phone, no lights, no motorcars, not a single luxury \ Like Robinson Crusoe, it's as primitive as can be".
Andrea: Oh yeah, that did come from Gilligan's Island!
Michael:So anyway that's a pretty serious break in the attempt at trying to counterpoint the themes of the two songs. Kind of  a cop-out, really. I've never really asked Coolio, but I suspect that my be why he considered the parody to be a desecration!
Andrea: Wow, that is seriously deep, Michael.
{pause}
Andrea: Is is true?
Michael: I have no idea. Coolio and I aren't really best buds. Plus, he's famous.
Andrea: So are you
Michael: Not really, and not nearly as much. Plus, they have buried the hatchet, so it would be weird to bring it up again....

I then proceeded to introduce her to the original Stevie Wonder song,and we contrasted the whole situation with other Weird Al parodies that didn't miss the point.

And we both agreed that other people seldom care about this kind of thing....


cron22 on 7 Jan 2012 10:42 PM:

Who is Andrea, anyway?  Does she work at Microsoft?  And that is a pretty cool conversation.  I think that song lyrics are really cool to discuss and to try and decrypt.  I happen to listen to many artists whose lyrics are very cryptic to begin with, so it makes good talk for my friends and me.  

Michael S. Kaplan on 8 Jan 2012 1:13 AM:

She's a good friend (and ever so briefly an ex) from over a decade ago. We started periodically talking song lyics ages ago, you can serch for Andrea via the search box on the page to find more about her. :-)

cron22 on 8 Jan 2012 5:58 PM:

Who knows.  I might just do that one of these days.  


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