Songs Of My Life: Weird Al Yankovic – Amish Paradise

Last  week, have been traveling through Florida. Four cities, five concerts, one artist: Weird Al Yankovic. The US-American comedy musician is a huge act in North America, while his fan base in Europe is not too large, but a very faithful bunch of people. His 2022 tour, the The Unfortunate Return Of The Ridiculously Self-Indulgent Ill-Advised Vanity Tour, will not travel to Europe. So I will be there. Three trips, nine shows – including the very first and very last show of the tour (if you ignore a few shows which had to pushed to February 2023 due to Al’s Covid-19 infection). Some 18 years ago, I saw my first Weird Al show. But in fact, it all started with one song: Amish Paradise. I felt it is a good opportunity to honor this track this week – and finally doing a new episode of the Songs Of My Life.


Amish Paradise: The Story Of The Song

The song Amish Paradise has been released on 12th March 1996, in parallel to the album Bad Hair Day, on which it is featured. At this point in time, Alfred Matthew Yankovic was already active as a musician for twenty years – and since the early to mid 1980’s, he did have earned quite some reputation in the US comedy and satiric scene. His 1992 album Off The Deep End, for example, was a Top 20 album in the US charts overall. The 23rd October 1953-born Californian from Lynwood (you will find more detailed bio on my website) also became more and more popular in other parts of the world, also driven by the fact that he has been an MTV favorite.

Even though “Weird Al”‘s discography roughly splits homogeneously into covers and originals, his covers receive more reputation. Amish Paradise is a parody on Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise featuring L.V.. In fact, this song is a cover itself, the original is written by Stevie Wonder, named Pastime Paradise. The Coolio track was one of the globally most successful songs of the year before, including topping the US Billboard Hot 100 charts.

There has been some controversy between Coolio and Weird Al about Amish Paradise. According to US copyright law, you don’t need a permission to release parody songs like that, but Weird Al did. In contrast to the record company, Coolio initially declined. Later, Coolio named this decision as “stupid” and called Amish Paradise “funny”. The US rapper died on 28th September 2022 in Los Angeles at the age of 59. Amish Paradise is one of the key songs of Weird Al’s musical life, even though it did not make it that big into the charts. His only Top 10 single is the 2006 song White & Nerdy. Nowadays, Weird Al is a five time Grammy Award winner and is honored on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


Amish Paradise: My Story Of The Song

Like many Stories Of My Life, the story related to Amish Paradise is related to my late years at school. At the time the song was released, I have been in the second last grade of school. Amish Paradise is one of the few Weird Al songs, which had some sort of TV and media appearance in Europe and even in Germany. As very often, my very well educated friend Niels knew Weird Al and his music a bit before myself – but while he liked his songs, I fell in love to them.

My story with Al started slowly. The 1999 album Running With Scissors was, along with some other releases, the first physical copy of an Al recording I in fact owned. I brought it back home from a US Open Tennis trip, supporting Indian players, by the way. Since then, I became more and more fan of him. I interrupted another US Open trip and turned my back to the sports idol of my life, Leander Paes, to visit my first ever Weird Al concert. On 4th September 2004, in the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, my life changed. I by the way stood next to Jeremy during that show. That was remarkable for many reasons. First of all, I did not understand his US American accent at that time. Secondly, he is one of the most remarkable Weird Al fans out there, having a count of over 400 shows. Last, but not least, he is a great friend of mine nowadays.

Global Community

Weird Al gave me a lot of friends, not only in North America. There are people like Jeremy, Nancy, David, Lynn and many more on the West side of the Atlantic Ocean. But the European Weird Al scene is rather active, compared to that he was on our side of the world in 2015 the last time. Bart is an amazing Weird Al fan, by the way. He is not only driving the biggest Weird Al fan forum since decades – you should also visit his HomeComputerMuseum in Helmond, Netherlands. Great place.

This weekend, I had my 27th Weird Al show. I am so thankful for all the people I met, being in contact with the band and even being honored to present two of them, Jon Bermuda Schwartz and Jim Kimo West in Spotlight interviews. 27 is a magic number for Weird Al. The number pops up in many songs, just because Al once thought and decided it is a funny one. I won’t be on this magic number too long. Carnegie Hall, New York City, is calling. Number 28. Not a magic number, but a magic experience, for sure.


Title picture: Weird Al Yankovic – Amish Paradise, single cover


Amish Paradise: Lyrics / Spotify

You can read the lyrics of Amish Paradise here.


Songs Of My Life Playlist

I created a playlist with all the Songs Of My Life songs so far. It will be updated with very new episode:
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