Day Sixty-Four: "Let Me Be Your Hog" from UHF: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Other Stuff
When I was conceptualizing the project that would become the Weird Accordion to Al, I realized that some of the tracks I would be covering would pose more of a challenge to write about substantively than others. I knew I wouldn’t have a problem with classic tracks like “Dare to be Stupid” but there are songs that stand out even in Al’s oeuvre for being particularly silly, goofy and slight.
Early in the project, for example, I had to come up with at least 600 words of commentary and insight on “Gotta Boogie”, an early bit of juvenilia that owes its existence to “I have to boogie” kind of sounding like “I’ve got a booger.” I was up to that challenge, bizarrely enough, but I was similarly intimidated by the prospect of having to write full entries on “Gandhi II”, a 60 second sound clip from a movie parody, the George of the Jungle theme song and “Twister”, a loving Beastie Boys homage that runs about a minute.
But the least appealing, juicy track in Al’s oeuvre had to be the one we’re covering here, “Let Me Be Your Hog” from the UHF soundtrack. The odd little snippet is so ruthlessly succinct that it makes tracks like “Twister”, “Gandhi II” and the George of the Jungle theme song sound like suites by comparison.
The song runs a mere seventeen seconds and consists of Al howling the title twice and the word “baby” countless times over a greasy, sleazy, lascivious proto-punk blues riff before a skipped-record-needle sound effect ends the track, you know, the kind that invariably broadcasts that some tomfoolery and shenanigans are afoot when it’s included in the trailer for a broad comedy.
The track owes its curious, unnecessary existence to Al being unable to license Carl Douglas’ “Kung Fu Fighting” for a scene in UHF. So Al recorded some new music to take its place that may not be as catchy but is much less problematic in its depiction of Asian culture. This made me think about the enormous role chance and fate play in Al’s career.
More than other legendary rock stars, Al’s career has been filled with tricky variables, most notably in terms of needing permission to parody songs. I wrote recently about how watching my dad shamelessly ask for everything as a child filled me with a deep sense of self-consciousness about asking anyone for anything, no matter how insignificant.
So I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for Al to have to spend so much of his career asking pop stars, who are flaky by nature and probably also on the drugs, for permission to parody their music so that he can go forward with his albums. I had an unusually intimate glimpse of this when the Lady Gaga incident happened while I was working on Weird Al: The Book.
As someone who hates asking people for anything, and is confused and frightened by teenagers, I can’t imagine how weird it must be to have “Get permission to parody a song from Iggy Azalea” on your to-do-list as a multi-Grammy-winning musical legend. There are so many things that can go horribly wrong when you’re a regularly touring, multi-platinum pop star like Al. So it really is an enduring miracle that Al is able to maintain such a high level of quality and dependability for going on four decades now.
The albums aren’t all masterpieces and the shows aren’t all transcendent, but because this is “Weird Al” Yankovic we’re talking about, they’re always going to be at the very least pretty good, and very often something much more. Even UHF, easily the weakest album we’ve encountered so far, has some pretty great stuff on it, in addition to some of the most screamingly inessential work of Al’s life and career, including the slight, forgettable, eminently regrettable, “Let Me Be Your Hog.”
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