After all the hard-hitting bad news of the past few weeks, it is worth taking a moment to stop and remember all that is good in this world.
Here is an excellent instrumental version of The First Noel.
No matter what happens, be it in our personal lives or in world events, the fundamental fact of our lives is that God came into this human world, in person, so that he might save and redeem us all. Let us never forget it.
And on the light-hearted side, a recent offering from Weird Al:
It’s been awhile since I posted a hymn. The Holy City is absolutely one of the best songs of any sort ever written, and this rendition is amazing. This is a very difficult song to sing since it requires incredible range. Most of us won’t get to hear life performances of it very often. If you do get an opportunity, consider yourself lucky.
One of the great things about the Christmas season is Christmas music. Not modern Christmas music, of course. I shudder at the mere thought. I’m talking about traditional Christmas carols. O Little Town has always been one of my favorites.
Also, one of the great things about YouTube is that you can type in the name of a song and get a dozen different versions, each of them wonderful in its own way.
I’d imagine that most Christians, while growing up, build a stock of favorite hymns. As for me, prior to my conversionat age 23, I didn’t know a single hymn, nor even a single verse from any hymn, except for a few Christmas songs. On the one hand, I missed out on a great deal of great music for a long time. On the other hand, I get hte pleasure and privilege of discovering all this great music now. Even today, in my sixth year as a Christian, I continue discovering wonderful new hymns all the time. Rock of Ages is one of my new favorites, and this is a beautiful rendition of it:
I first presented my reasons for regrading Weird Al as “my favorite musician” here. Oddly enough, I probably haven’t heard even half of the songs that he’s released and I’ve only watched a few of his videos. For someone who lives without TV most of the time and without cable all of the time, there aren’t many opportunities to catch him on MTV. It was only after writing that previous post that I thought to check YouTube and see what I’d been missing. Here are some of the discoveries I made.
I would aver that these videos and others like them further cement Weird Al’s reputation as the greatest active musician in America. They not only show musical talent and writing talent, but they show that he has a unique perspective on the quirks, the aspects, the ins-and-outs of American culture. Check out the video for Craigslist. It not only manages the merge together the instrumental portions of several songs from The Doors with funny lyrics, but it also manages to say something. While we have a lot of pointy-headed intellectuals who are making their pointy-headed statements about how the internet will change the world, will enlighten people, will open minds, and so forth, real people who actually use the internet know otherwise. In reality, the internet is the dwelling place of mediocrity, where people post without thinking much about what they’re saying and nonsense propagates without anything to check it. That’s the point of Weird Al’s Craigslist, though it’s done with such sly humor that you can listen to it several times before you notice it.
Weird Al Yankovich. Listen to him.
The video for PerformThis Way, Weird Al Yankovic’s parody of Born This Way, is now up on YouTube. I haven’t watched it yet. I doubt that I’d get too much amusement out of watching it, given that I’ve never listened to any song by Lady Gaga, nor paid any attention to her, and I don’t intend to start doing so anytime soon. I feel confident, however, that both the song and the video for Perform This Way are brilliant. After all, they were made by Weird Al Yankovic.
Weird Al has been making parodies for about thirty years now. Many trends in music have come and gone during that time, but his technique has remained remarkably stable. First he takes a song that’s hip and popular among young people. Then he takes a topic that is completely unhip and not at all popular among young people, such as obesity, surgery, the Flintstones, Amish people, plumbing, or personal computers. Lastly he mashes the song and the topic together and comes up with comedy gold.
If the approach is always the same, the variety of musical styles that he’s gone after is remarkably varied. Furthermore, he has talent. In most cases he doesn’t write the music, though in a few cases he does. His talent lies in writing the lyrics and is picking the particular jokes to include. His videos are particularly noteworthy simply because of their energy. Weird Al never does things by half measure. He throws himself whole-heartedly into the task of imitating the style and flair of the original while apparently taking everything with total seriousness. There is no self-reference and no winking at the audience. At the same time, his satire is never biting or bitter. You could never think that the man actually dislikes any of the musicians he’s parodying–or, for that matter, the uncool subject matter that he’s linking it too. Here are a few of his best efforts.
My brother and I started listening to Weird Al around 1992, when I was ten and my brother was eleven. He’d already been doing his stuff for almost twenty years by then, and he’s still popular today. Few musicians can claim as much. I’m not talking about groups like Santana, who disappear for decades and then reappear. And I not talking about acts like KISS, who stay “popular” by hawking Diet Dr. Pepper. I’m talking about musicians who continuously release new music that is worth listening to. Weird Al has talent, and with that in mind I’m not surprised to learn that (according to Wikipedia) he was valedictorian of his high school class.