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Yoda (song)

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"Yoda"
Song by "Weird Al" Yankovic from the album Dare to Be Stupid
Recorded February 20, 1985
Genre Comedy rock
Length 3:58
Label Scotti Brothers
Writer(s)
Producer(s) Rick Derringer
Dare to Be Stupid track listing
"One More Minute"
(4)
"Yoda"
(5)
"George of the Jungle"
(6)

"Yoda" is a song by "Weird Al" Yankovic from his third album, Dare to Be Stupid (1985). It is a parody of the song "Lola" by The Kinks. Inspired by the events of the movie 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. The song was initially written and recorded in 1980, during the original release of The Empire Strikes Back, and achieved success on The Dr. Demento Show; however, the long and involved process of getting permission from both Star Wars creator George Lucas and "Lola" songwriter Ray Davies delayed the physical release of the song for about five years.

"Yoda" was never released as a single, and no music video was ever made for it. Nevertheless, the parody has gone on to be one of Yankovic's most famous songs. It was re-released twice in 1994: on his second greatest hits set and the box set Permanent Record, and also on the 2009 compilation The Essential "Weird Al" Yankovic. The song is also a staple during Yankovic's live shows, and an idiosyncratic chant dubbed "The Yoda Chant" is often performed during the song's middle portions.

History[edit]

Early success[edit]

"Yoda" was originally written by "Weird Al" Yankovic during the initial run of the second Star Wars movie, the 1980 American epic space opera The Empire Strikes Back.[1] 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. Yankovic later jokingly said that, "Prior to The Empire Strikes Back, the thought of writing a song about Yoda had never occurred to me."[2] He toyed with the idea of writing a song based on the break-out character, but was unable to find a suitable piece to parody until one of his friends proposed that he use "Lola"—"which I couldn't believe that I hadn't thought of myself, since I was such a huge Kinks fan."[2]

Yankovic wrote and recorded a version of the song, using only an accordion, on a 4-track cassette Portastudio.[1][2] This version of "Yoda" was a success on The Dr. Demento Show, and peaked at number one on the "Funny Five" countdown for several weeks.[2] This early demo was later released on the sixth volume of Dr. Demento's Basement Tapes.[3]

Obtaining permission[edit]

"Lola" was written by Ray Davies and performed by his band, The Kinks.

Yankovic wanted to include the song on one of his albums, since the demo version had been so popular. However, the long and involved process of getting permission from both George Lucas and the publishers of the Kinks' "Lola" delayed the physical release of the song for about five years. Although Lucas eventually gave Yankovic permission, the song's publishers turned Yankovic down. "Yoda" might have remained unreleased had it not been for a chance encounter between Yankovic and Ray Davies, who wrote "Lola". When Yankovic asked him why he had not given his permission, Davies responded that he had never been asked. Davies ultimately gave Yankovic permission to record the song, and the song was later released on Yankovic's third album Dare to Be Stupid. For subsequent parodies, Yankovic has attempted to approach the songwriters themselves for permission rather than their publishers whenever possible.[1]

"Yoda" was re-recorded on February 20, 1985.[4] This version of the song does not feature the use of an accordion and is truer, musically, to the original song. Yankovic later said, "It's kind of a backlash from the first album, where we had accordion on everything. It just became a little overwhelming to me."[1]

Continuing popularity[edit]

After Dare to Be Stupid was released, Yankovic considered "Yoda" a "cool album track" rather than a potential single due to the age of both The Empire Strikes Back and the original song.[5] This, and the fact that the majority of the album's video budget went to the then-current "Like a Virgin" parody, meant that a "Yoda" video would not be feasible.[5] Nevertheless, the song has gone on to be one of Yankovic's most famous parodies and a fan favorite.[6] The song was featured on the Greatest Hits Volume II (1994),[7] the box set Permanent Record (1994),[1] and the 2009 compilation The Essential "Weird Al" Yankovic.[8] The song appeared on "The Time Machine" episode of The Weird Al Show, and on the compilation album Radio Disney: Kid Jams.[9][10]

Live performances[edit]

"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.[6][11] 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.[11] 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.[12][13]

Since 1991, an a cappella chant (often referred to as the "Yoda chant") has been included in live performances, and is considered a staple of Yankovic's shows. Midway through "Yoda", the band slowly ceases playing and goes into the chant, which Yankovic wrote himself. Originally, the chant consisted mainly of mnemonic syllables accompanied by synchronized movements from the band. It has evolved over the years to include, among other things, pieces from the Disneyland attraction Haunted Mansion ("Grim Grinning Ghosts"). 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 the "four-way-crimp" from The Mighty Boosh was also added.[14]

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, a noted pianist with autism.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Hansen, Barret (1994). Permanent Record: Al in the Box (liner). "Weird Al" Yankovic. California, USA: Scotti Brothers Records. 
  2. ^ a b c d Burton, Bonnie (October 27, 2006). "'Weird Al' – Nerdy Something". StarWars.com. Archived from the original on December 11, 2009. Retrieved January 16, 2011. 
  3. ^ Dr. Demento's Basement Tapes Volume 6 (liner). Dr. Demento. 1997. 
  4. ^ Yankovic, Alfred M. (December 2007). "Recording Dates". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Retrieved June 26, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Yankovic, Alfred M. (September 1998). "'Ask Al' Q&As for September, 1998". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Retrieved January 16, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Bosso, Joe (April 15, 2012). "Weird Al Yankovic: My 10 Greatest Song Parodies of All Time". MusicRadar. Retrieved December 20, 2016. 
  7. ^ Greatest Hits Volume II (liner). "Weird Al" Yankovic. Scotti Bros. Records. 1994. 
  8. ^ The Essential "Weird Al" Yankovic (liner). "Weird Al" Yankovic. Legacy Recordings. 2009. 
  9. ^ "Time Machine". The Weird Al Show. Season 1. Episode 5. October 11, 1997. CBS. 
  10. ^ Radio Disney: Kid Jams (liner). Various. Walt Disney Records. 1999. 
  11. ^ a b Yankovic, Alfred M. (December 2007). "Live Performances". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Retrieved December 19, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Weird Al" Yankovic (1999). "Weird Al" Yankovic Live! (DVD). Los Angeles, California: Volcano Records. 
  13. ^ "Weird Al" Yankovic (2011). "Weird Al" Yankovic Live! – The Alpocalypse Tour (DVD/Blu-ray). Los Angeles, California: Comedy Central. 
  14. ^ Blistein, Jon (June 10, 2015). "Watch 'Weird Al' Record Surreal 'Yoda' Chant in Third Man Booth". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 20, 2016. 
  15. ^ Daley, Megan (March 9, 2015). "Watch 'Weird Al' Yankovic, Jodi DiPiazza Perform 'Yoda' at Night of Too Many Stars". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 20, 2017.