Day One hundred and seventy-eight: "Homer and Marge" from Medium Rarities
Al is nothing if not consistent. This portion of Medium Rarities, for example, isn’t just devoted to songs Al recorded specifically for the opening and end credits of Spy Hard, the “Three Gays of the Condo” episode of The Simpsons and 30 Rock. That would be specific enough, but Al takes things a meta-textual step further by making these tunes partially about our experience listening to Al sing at the start or end of a TV show or movie.
On “Spy Hard”, Al helpfully reminded audiences that they were watching the credits for the movie Spy Hard and, by extension, the motion picture Spy Hard and later, during the end credits, that they’d just finished watching Spy Hard, the poor things.
“Homer and Marge”, a Simpsons-themed parody of John Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane”, which Al was famously not allowed to parody as “Chuck and Diane” very early in his career, is largely, if not exclusively, concerned with “Weird Al” Yankovic making a singing cameo at the close of a Simpsons episode.
Against the reassuring backdrop of The Simpsons’ end credits, Al sings, “Weird Al” sayin’ “Oh yeah, the credits go on/Long after the viewers’ interest is gone/Oh yeah “Weird Al” had fun on this show/Even if it was just a brief cameo.”
Even when signing about himself in the third person, Al is wonderful, of course, warm, funny and effortlessly self-deprecating but my favorite part of the track may be the hilariously, incongruously vitriolic rage in Homer’s voice as he accuses Al of being an Allan Sherman knock-off, a reference that undoubtedly flew over the head of most of The Simpsons’ audience at the time. That consequently makes it perfect for the sometimes gleefully, purposefully obscure sensibility of both Al and the greatest television show of all time.
Yet “Homer and Marge” is also about seemingly everything else Al sings about as well, from overeating (Al praises Marge by saying her heart is as big as Homer’s stomach is large) to food to, of course, television and rock star greed.
A recurring theme in Al’s oeuvre has been the mercenary nature of rock music, how underneath the posturing and pretension and gobbledegook about art and personal expression it’s really all about making money. In “Homer and Marge”, Al is the millionaire rock star pinching pennies and chasing every last payday, no matter how modest.
In the spoken word portion of the track, Al talks about taking a reasonably priced flight to Springfield after the check Marge sent him for his services as a modestly priced singing Cupid cleared and later humble-brags in song about Homer and Marge being “two folks I helped out for a nominal charge.”
Matt Groening’s satirical masterpiece and Al have quite the mutual admiration society going. The Simpsons is referenced in three of Al’s best songs—“Frank’s 2000 Inch TV”, “Why Does This Always Happen to Me” and “Phony Calls”—while Al was invited to perform an extended version of “Homer and Marge” during the show’s big Hollywood Bowl show and has a figure commemorating his guest turn here that hangs on my wall as part of the modest yet tasteful “Weird Al” Yankovic shrine in my office.
The original version of “Homer and Marge” was not written by Al but the highest praise I can give its songwriter is that it feels unmistakably like one of Al’s compositions, and not just because it manages to rhyme “After Homer went gay, they patched up their schism” with “dude never dealt with his alcoholism.”
It ended up taking Al a VERY long time to make an officially sanctioned parody of “Jack and Diane” but it was worth the wait, as “Weird Al” Yankovic and The Simpsons predictably proved two great tastes that taste great together.
Support independent media, get access to patron-only content and help ensure a robust present and future for the Happy Place by pledging over at https://www.patreon.com/nathanrabinshappyplace
OR, preferably, pre-order an autographed copy of the awesome Weird Accordion to Al book over at https://make-the-weird-accordion-to-al-book-a-ridiculous-r.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders