'Weird Al' Yankovic Throws 'Pie' At New 'Star Wars' Film On New LP

Pop parodist uses melody of '70s hit 'American Pie' to poke fun at 'The Phantom Menace.'

LOS ANGELES -- It might seem strange to pair Don McLean's earnest

'70s hit "American Pie" with a spoof of the new "Star Wars" movie, "Episode

1: The Phantom Menace." But if you're "Weird Al" Yankovic, it's a perfect


The 39-year-old parody artist saw the combination as an ideal marriage of

pop-culture perennials.

"Each ['Star Wars'] movie is such a classic, it seemed like it was almost

criminal not to pair it with a classic song," Yankovic said, speaking from

his Los Angeles home Thursday.

Yankovic considered using the music of a current pop tune for "The Saga

Begins," his take-off on the blockbuster film about the space-faring

exploits of Jedi knights. He says that he tossed around the idea of doing

something such as "Pretty Fly (For a Jedi)" to the tune of the Offspring's

"Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)" (


">RealAudio excerpt). But he changed his mind, choosing the melody

and arrangement of "American Pie."

Rather than letting the Offspring idea go to waste, however, he came up

with "Pretty Fly (For a Rabbi)," which appears along with "The Saga Begins"

on the forthcoming "Weird Al" album Running With Scissors (June 29).

The collection also features send-ups of pop act Barenaked Ladies, swing

band Cherry Poppin' Daddies and rapper/producer Puff Daddy.

The accompanying video to "The Saga Begins" will have its world premiere on

the Internet Friday (June 25) beginning at 11 a.m. (EDT) on a specially

created site located at

Yankovic said that writing a "Star Wars"-inspired parody had been on his

to-do list for some time.

"What I do for a living is take advantage of pop culture phenomena, and it

was no secret that a new 'Star Wars' movie would take over the world when

it came out," he said.

The only problem was, Yankovic (born Alfred Matthew Yankovic) didn't have

the movie itself to draw from. Like the majority of the world, he didn't

have the opportunity to see the sci-fi film in advance, which made it

difficult to ready the tune for release only a month after the prequel

bombarded theaters. But "Weird Al" made do, spending long hours scrounging

around the Internet to find tidbits on the movie's plot.

"The Internet being what it is, I was able basically to figure out 98

percent of the plot line before the movie came out," he said. "I think I

changed three or four lines once I actually saw the movie, but the song was

recorded by the time the movie came out."

It helped that the four-verse structure of "American Pie" dovetailed with

Yankovic's satirical summary of the story. The song takes listeners through

the basic plot of the film, beginning with the voyage from the planet Naboo

to Tatooine in the first verse. The second verse is set on Tatooine, the

third on Coruscant, and the fourth back on Naboo.

The chorus focuses on the film's key figure, Anakin, a future Jedi: "Oh my

my this here Anakin guy/ May be Vader someday later/ Now he's just a small

fry/ And he left his home and kissed his mommy goodbye/ Sayin' soon I'm

gonna be a Jedi."

"Most 'Star Wars' die-hards are really going to enjoy it, but it's probably

going to bug some of the snobs," wrote 26-year-old "Star Wars" fan Brian

Powers of Denver, in an online message-board posting. "But then,

it's probably going to bug some really big fans of 'American Pie,' who

think it's some kind of divine historical masterpiece. As for me, I think

it's damn funny."

Yankovic, who received permission from McLean to use the tune in January,

said the accompanying video is modeled after "MTV Unplugged," a look chosen

after his request to use footage from "The Phantom Menace" was turned down.

"We populated the audience with Tatooine locals and various aliens from the

galaxy, and just thought it was a fun idea," he said of the video. Last

year Yankovic had appeared in promotional spots for MTV which also borrowed

from the style of "Unplugged."

"Weird Al" found his future as a musical parodist when he recorded "My

Bologna," a send-up of the Knack's "My Sharona," as a college DJ in 1979.

His career took off when the song became a hit on the syndicated "Dr.

Demento" radio show.

Yankovic later scored hits with spoofs of Michael Jackson -- "Eat It" and

"Fat," drawn from the pop superstar's "Beat It" and "Bad" -- and Madonna --

"Like A Surgeon," an alternative to her "Like A Virgin." Meanwhile, the

videos accompanying Yankovic's parodies became MTV staples.

Yankovic scored his best-selling album to date with 1996's Bad Hair

Day, which featured a parody of Coolio's "Gangsta Paradise" called

"Amish Paradise."

While Yankovic said that spoofing artists of today is different from

spoofing artists of the '80s, he said it's not necessarily more difficult.

"Nah, it's just different," he said. "Maybe there's more predominance of

rap music, which means that there are more lyrics to write, but aside from

that, I actually really like the music now.

"I'm a big fan of a lot of alternative music, and lately I've been trying

to parody songs that I really enjoy, because I'm realizing at this stage of

my life that I'm gonna have to live with these songs for a very long time.

"And I don't want to have to sing 'The Macarena' when I'm 70 years old."

Latest News