Announcing the Weird Accordion to Al: The Book Kickstarter Campaign!
I began the epic journey that has been the Weird Accordion to Al in April, 20017 just before the launch of Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place out of a fierce conviction that the recorded output of American pop parodist “Weird Al” Yankovic was as worthy of deep analysis and loving appreciation as the slightly more serious, “respectable” oeuvres of folks like Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan.
As of today, we have officially made it through all of Al’s studio albums, beginning with 1983’s “Weird Al” Yankovic and ending with 2014’s Mandatory Fun. I feel even more passionate about Al’s inherent worth as an artist and his place in the pantheon of music and comedy, and music comedy greats.
We still have one more album to cover for the online version of The Weird Accordion to Al in the form of his 2017 rarities and obscurities collection Medium Rarities but now that we’ve officially covered all of Al’s studio albums it seems like the perfect time to switch from column mode to book mode with the launch of the Weird Accordion to Al Kickstarter campaign.
As much as I’ve loved writing The Weird Accordion to Al as a core feature of Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place, a fixture that has been with us from the very start and has helped establish the tone as well as the content of the site, it makes so much more sense as a book than as a modestly read, sporadically updated online column.
If you love The Weird Accordion to Al but wish it was professionally copy-edited, rigorously fact-checked by Al himself, featured awesome, extensive illustrations from renowned illustrator and colorist Felipe Sobreiro instead of whatever random-ass images I could pull from the internet and an introduction by “Weird Al” Yankovic himself you’re in luck, because the Weird Accordion to Al book will have all of those things! And more! And you can hold it in your hand and read it on the toilet or on a road trip, something you haven’t been able to do with a book of mine since 2013’s You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me.
The whole point of The Weird Accordion to Al is to honor the totality of Al’s accomplishments. That’s a lot easier within the context of an epic, 120,000 word book chronicling the entirety of Al’s album output than it is with, say, a 800 word essay on an obscurity like Al’s disco pastiche “Gotta Boogie” or “She Never Told Me That She Was a Mime.”
I also struggled to find a coherent visual aesthetic for the column and, to be brutally honest, failed much, if not most of the time. Particularly with album cuts from the 1980s, there simply isn’t a lot of imagery online that really has anything to do with songs like “Good Enough for Now” or “Nature Trail to Hell”
I’m pleased to report that we’ve solved that with the Weird Accordion to Al book. I’ve enlisted the aforementioned Sobreiro, a very talented illustrator and colorist who has done a lot of work with Marvel to do the illustrations for the book as well as the cover. We’re talking something like 40 to 45 illustrations of Al songs both massive/iconic and beloved/obscure. It really adds a whole new dimension to the project.
I’m not gonna lie: the content of The Weird Accordion to Al was sometimes a little rough. I do not have an editor or a copy-editor here at the Happy Place, and my writing can be a little messy. Thankfully Al himself has offered to help fact-check the book and unlike the column, the Weird Accordion to Al book will be so thoroughly, professionally copy-edited that you’ll barely be able to recognize it as my work.
I will also get around to writing about 1988’s Peter & the Wolf, Al’s collaboration with electronic pioneer and The Shining composer Wendy Carlos for the first time for the sake of being as complete an exploration of Al on wax as possible.
I’m excited as well as nervous about this next stage in the process. I haven’t published a book physically since 2013’s You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me, which had the benefit of the Scribner/Simon & Schuster publicity and distribution engine behind it. As with 7 Days in Ohio, Kanye & Trump and Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place/Happy Cast, I am going the independent route, both because it suits me and I love the creative freedom but also because, to be frank, I don’t have any other options.
But the success I’ve had with 7 Days in Ohio and the Happy Place has given me the confidence to push ahead with this labor of love. Not to put too fine a point of it, but it’s very, very difficult to make a living in pop culture media in 2019, even when you’ve been doing it for twenty-two years, as I have, and the success of the Weird Accordion to Al Kickstarter campaign would go a long way towards ensuring a robust future for this site.
At the risk of being immodest, I think this is a really good, really unique site that deserves to succeed and have a future. You can help make that happen by buying a book, or two, or an autographed album. Hopefully many of y’all are big “Weird Al” Yankovic fans, but even if you are not this book, which will be published early in November is the perfect Holiday gift for the nerd in your life.
I had hoped to do this campaign via GoFundMe, but apparently you can’t have tiers or rewards on there anymore for reasons I can’t possibly begin to understand, but I went through the bother of making a GoFundMe campaign for the book before realizing my error. So if, for some reason, you just REALLY want to just give me money, you can do so at https://www.gofundme.com/manage/help-make-the-weird-accordion-to-al-book-happen but I really do not want your charity, friend. No, I want to earn your hard earned money through honest labor so please do check out the Kickstarter campaign and toss in a few bucks while you’re there.
Alternately, spread the word. Share! Re-Tweet! Tell a friend! Tell a neighbor! Become a one-person street team! Any and all help is appreciated and thanks again for making projects like this possible.
Oh, and while I think this book is of interest primarily to Al super-fans and people who enjoy my work I would love for the book to enjoy a second life as an academic text that makes possibly dry subjects like satire and parody and the mechanics of comedy fun and relatable. To that end, if you arrange a group purchase of five books or more I will happily do a Skype call with your book club or college class.
I’m also VERY open to being interviewed for this campaign, project and book, on podcasts or off, so please do email me over at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like me to talk about the project or my fascinating, fascinating life and career. So fascinating!
To put things in “Mission Statement” terms, we’re trying to monetize our assets and provide a value-added experience that will grow the business. I thought that song was full of meaningless buzzwords but many actually apply to this project.
It’s a paradigm shift and one heck of a trip, so please do make like a digital age Paul Revere and help get the word out on this very worthy project, two years in the making. I have no publicist. I have no street team. I have no fancy publisher the way I did with Weird Al: The Book. But I have y’all and I trust that will be enough.
Pretty, pretty please consider contributing to my Kickstarter campaign over at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/weirdaccordiontoal/make-the-weird-accordion-to-al-book-a-ridiculous-r?ref=project_build or just help get the word out. Anything is appreciated! So very, very appreciated!
And of course you can still give money over at https://www.patreon.com/nathanrabinshappyplace as well