|Song by "Weird Al" Yankovic from the album Dare to Be Stupid|
|Recorded||February 20, 1985|
|Writer(s)||"Weird Al" Yankovic, Ray Davies|
|Producer(s)||"Weird Al" Yankovic|
"Yoda" is a song by "Weird Al" Yankovic. It is a parody of the song "Lola" by The Kinks. Written and inspired by the events of The Empire Strikes Back, the song is told from the point of view of Jedi-in-training Luke Skywalker, and concerns his dealings with Master Yoda on the planet Dagobah. It is featured on Yankovic's third album, Dare to Be Stupid.
"Yoda" was originally written by "Weird Al" Yankovic during the initial run of the 1980 American epic space opera The Empire Strikes Back. The film introduced the character of Yoda, the ancient Jedi Master who trains Luke in the ways of The Force following the demise of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Indeed, Yankovic later jokingly remarked that, "Prior to The Empire Strikes Back, the thought of writing a song about Yoda had never occurred to me."
After the success of the movie, Yankovic toyed with the idea of writing a song based on the break-out character, but was unable to find a suitable song. "I remember I was toying around with the idea of writing a song about him." Yankovic remembers, "I was still in college at the time, and a friend of mine named Mike suggested that I do the song to the tune of 'Lola' -- which I couldn't believe that I hadn't thought of myself, since I was such a huge Kinks fan."
Yankovic wrote and recorded a version of the song, using only an accordion, on a 4-track cassette Portastudio. This version of "Yoda" was a hit on The Dr. Demento Show, and even managed to hit, and hold on to, number one on the Funny Five countdown for several weeks. This early demo was later released on one of Dr. Demento's Basement Tapes.
After the large success of the demo version, Yankovic desired to put the song on one of his albums. However, the immensely complex process of getting permission from both George Lucas and the publishers of the Kinks' "Lola" delayed the release of the song for about five years. Eventually, after Lucas gave Yankovic permission, the song's publishers turned Yankovic down. The song might have remained unreleased for some time had it not been for a chance encounter Yankovic had with the song's original songwriter, Ray Davies. When Yankovic asked why he had not given him permission, Davies remarked that he had never been asked. Davies immediately gave Yankovic permission to record the song, and the song was later released on Yankovic's third album Dare to Be Stupid. Ever since then, Yankovic has directly asked the songwriters for permission whenever possible.
The commercial release of the song does not feature accordion, and is truer, musically, to the original song. Yankovic later remarked, "It's kind of a backlash from the first album, where we had accordion on everything. It just became a little overwhelming to me."
After Dare to Be Stupid was released, Yankovic considered "Yoda" little more than a "cool album track" and less of a potential single due to the age of both the Star Wars movie and the original song. In addition, a video for the project was out of the question, as the majority of the album's video budget went to the then-current "Like a Virgin" parody. When asked why a video was not made, Yankovic also speculated that the legal and monetary requirements to make a decent video for "Yoda" would have made the project impractical.
Nevertheless, the song has gone on to be one of Yankovic's most famous parodies and a fan favorite. Although it was left off his first greatest hits album, the song was featured on the second volume, the box set Permanent Record, and the 2009 compilation The Essential "Weird Al" Yankovic. The song has appeared in other media. In the "Time Machine" episode of The Weird Al Show, Al and his band performed the song for Harvey. The song also appeared on Radio Disney: Kid Jams.
"Yoda" has been played at the end of every show for the tours promoting Yankovic's albums Dare to Be Stupid, Off The Deep End, Alapalooza, Bad Hair Day, Running with Scissors, Poodle Hat, Alpocalypse, and Mandatory Fun. Starting with the Touring with Scissors tour in 1999, the song has been preceded by that album's Star Wars-themed single, "The Saga Begins." For the Straight Outta Lynwood tour, the band moved both songs to the middle of the set, and performed "Albuquerque" as their finale. Beginning in June 2010, "Yoda" has again been the final encore.
Unlike the album version of "Yoda", which uses the same instrumentation as "Lola", Yankovic will often add accordion accompaniment in live performances; this can be seen on the video releases "Weird Al" Yankovic Live! and "Weird Al" Yankovic Live! – The Alpocalypse Tour.
Since 1991, an a cappella chant (affectionately nicknamed the "Yoda chant") has been included in live performances. Midway through the song, the band slowly ceases playing and goes into the chant, which Yankovic wrote himself. Originally the chant consisted mainly of mnemonic syllables used by Indian tabla players, which Yankovic thought sounded interesting, accompanied by synchronized movements from the band. It has evolved over the years to include, among other things, pieces from the Disneyland attractions Haunted Mansion ("Grim Grinning Ghosts") and the Enchanted Tiki Room ("Hawaiian War Chant"), and "Big Shoes", written by Al's bass player Steve Jay, with lyrics in the Djerma language. Beginning with his 2010 tour, a few phrases from The Trashmen's "Surfin' Bird"and "Frère Jacques" have been included as well as the "Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi" chant. On the Mandatory Fun tour in 2015, a piece of a crimp from The Mighty Boosh was also added.
In 2015, as part of Comedy Central's "Night of Too Many Stars", a benefit for New York Collaborates for Autism, Yankovic performed the song with 13-year-old Jodi DiPiazza, herself an autistic musical prodigy.
- Hansen, Barret (1994). Permanent Record: Al in the Box (liner). "Weird Al" Yankovic. California, USA: Scotti Brothers Records http://dmdb.org/al/booklet.html
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- Burton, Bonnie (October 27, 2006). ""Weird Al" -- Nerdy Something". Starwars.com. Retrieved 2011-01-16.
- Yankovic, Alfred M. (September 1998). ""Ask Al" Q&As for September, 1998". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Retrieved 2011-01-16.