Day Eighty-One: "You Don't Love Me Anymore" from Off the Deep End
Well, friends of Al, we have made it to the end of another “Weird Al” Yankovic album, our seventh. Seventh! The first song on Al’s albums is generally the big commercial radio hit that has suburban moms thinking, “You know who’s funny? That “Weird Al” Yankovic fellow with the Nirvana song about the mumbling. Maybe I’ll buy little Timmy a cassette for his birthday.” The final songs on Al’s albums, however are liable to have those same bourgeoisie hausfrau instead saying, “I don’t know if I really want little Timmy to be listening to “Weird Al” Yankovic. Some of his stuff is pretty messed up, particularly since little Timmy has the night terrors ever since he hear that his father died on the battlefield in Operation Desert Storm.”
The kick-off track on albums, which is also almost invariably the first single, parody and safest commercial bet, attracts the “normies”, who wouldn’t know “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota” from “Slime Creatures from Outer Space.” The last track pushes the normies away and rewards the fans with some of the darkest, funniest and most audacious songs of Al’s career.
The final track of Off the Deep End is no different. To its credit, it's one of those songs that worries parents, perhaps deservedly so, as it’s another masterpiece of the macabre, another portrait of a romantic relationship as a circle of hell. Only instead of one of Al’s lousy Lothsarios we have a man who is on the receiving end of great cruelty. Call him a Masochistic Mark, a Long-Suffering Luke, a Delusional Denzel.
He’s starting to question his longtime partner’s love and devotion after a series of troubling incidents when it’s apparent from the outside that the couple’s primary problem seems to be one party’s intense desire to murder the other party, or, at the very least, subject him to the kind of torture that has made “”Weird Al” Yankovic the unsung, unheralded father of horrorcore.
But if “You Don’t Love Me Anymore” is one of Al’s darkest and most violent songs lyrically, sonically it’s one of his prettiest and gentlest. Al has seldom sounded more tremblingly sincere or earnest than when addressing a lover he fears no longer cares for him the way she once did, as evidenced by her many attempts to murder him.
We start off on a gorgeously deadpan note, with crystal-clear acoustic guitar plucking and Al, in sensitive folkie mode, starting things off slowly on a straight note with “We've been together for so very long/But now things are changing, oh I wonder what's wrong?/Seems you don't want me around/The passion is gone and the flame's died down.”
Things start to take a turn with one of the bluer lyrics in Al’s generally squeaky-clean (if demented and sometimes extreme) oeuvre: “I guess I lost a little bit of self-esteem/That time that you made it with the whole hockey team.” The following lyrics kicks things into high gear with one of my favorite rhymes not just in Al’s work but in all of popular music: “You used to think I was nice/Now you tell all your friends that I'm the Antichrist.”
From there, the song becomes a wonderfully dark comedy about a failed romantic relationship as a death pit the unlucky victim is lucky to survive with his life, let alone his faith in his partner’s intentions. Al’s croon never sacrifices its wounded earnestness no matter how cartoonishly he suffers at his sadistic sweetheart’s murderous hands.
The singer is willing to overlook an awful lot for love. At one point he even concedes, “You know, I even think it's kinda cute the way/You poison my coffee just a little each day.” He’s more than a little bit of a masochist, which is both good and bad considering that his lady love is more than a little sadistic, as evidenced by “the way that you laughed/When you pushed me down that elevator shaft.”
Even at this stage in the relationship, when the singer has clearly survived countless attempts on his life of varying levels of seriousness, he still feels the need to tip-toe around his partner’s feelings, as when he meekly inquires, “Oh, if you don't mind me asking, what's this poisonous cobra/Doing in my underwear drawer?”
The final song on Al’s albums are generally my favorite. That probably the case here as well. How can you not love a song where lyrics like “You slammed my face down on the barbecue grill/Now my scars are all healing, but my heart never will” are delivering with the painful sincerity of a folkie with a guitar and a James Taylor songbook at a college open mic night? Seldom has Al’s juxtaposition of lovely, coffee-house-friendly music and ghoulishly dark lyrics paid such rich comic dividends.
Even by last-song-on-the-album standards, lyrics like “You drilled a hole in my head/Then you dumped me in a drainage ditch and left me for dead” are a little on the extreme and violent side but “You Don’t Love Me Anymore” doesn’t mess around. The first song on Off the Deep End, "Smells Like Nirvana", was a career-revitalizing smash. The final song is transcendently, exquisitely dark, a look at love gone awry that’s more David Lynch than Nora Ephron.
“You Don’t Love Me Anymore” inspired what I believe is the only dance remix of Al’s career, a 12 inch from a label from the Philippines. There’s only one word for that: unusual: then again, “Unusual” is practically “Weird Al” Yankovic’s middle name, and “You Don’t Love Me Any More”, whether the dance remix, or the original, is “unusual” in a most sublime way.
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