Front Runners

Watch your step when "Weird Al" Yankovic rides the bus

US Weekly
May 26, 1981

Some little boys want to grow up to be a baseball player, like George Brett. Others want to be President. But then there's always that one in 1,000 who wants to grow up to write songs like Frank Zappa and Spike Jones.

After listening to his rendition of "Another One Rides The Bus," a parody of Queen's smash hit, "Another One Bites The Dust," is it any wonder that his friends call Al Yankovic "weird"?

"It's a unique position," remarks Weird Al. whose single has jumped into the Top 100 national record charts. "Most people in high school make up fun words for songs, I'm just one of those few people that gets national recognition for it."

Ridin' in a bus down the boulevard
And the place was pretty packed
Couldn't find a seat so I had to stand
With the perverts in the back
It was smelling like a locker room
There was junk all over the floor
We're already packed in like sardines
Now, we're stopping to pick up more, yeah
(Thump, thump, thump)
Another one rides the bus…

The inspiration for the song came one weekend last September, when Weird Al, a 21-year-old college graduate (an architecture major) went on a camping trip with his friend, radio personality Bruce "Dr. Demento" Hansen. With "Another One Bites The Dust" playing in his head, Yankovic recalls: "I wrote my song, and Sunday night we went to Dr. Demento's live radio show in L.A. I brought my accordion and he suggested I play it live on the air. Whoever happened to be there played percussion." The tape they made of his live performance was used for the master of the single.

What about the percussionist who sounds flatulent? "Oh, that's Musical Mike," explains Al. "He's a manualist. He makes that noise with his hands."

The window doesn't open, the fan is broke
And my face is turning blue
I haven't been in a crowd like this
Since I went to see The Who…

Now working for Westwood One, a radio syndication company ("in the mailrooooom!"), Al has been keen on novelty music ever since reading Mad magazine as a boy. His version of "My Sharona" – called "My Bologna" – was released by Capitol Records in 1979. His other tunes include "It's Still Billy Joel to Me," "Baby Likes Burping," "Gravy on You" and "Take Me to the Liver."

He's now working on original material for an album. "The songs range from 'Mr. Frump and the Iron Lung' to 'Happy Birthday,' a new wave song telling us to celebrate our birthdays before we get blown up by thermonuclear war." Then Weird Al emits the shrieky laugh of the Unknown Comic.

Already staring stardom in the face (April 1 was Weird Al Day in San Diego), Yankovic takes fame semiseriously. "I'm flattered that people like my songs so much," he says. "These are definitely weird times."