Morning Music: Jurassic Park by Weird Al Yankovic

Jurassic Park - Weird Al YankovicToday’s song is “Jurassic Park.” Elizabeth commented, “Since I think you mentioned you don’t like MacArthur Park, this might cheer you up. Plus claymation!” Well, she was half right. I am a big fan of claymation, and in fact, every kind of animation. One of the great things about never having kids is that you aren’t required to ever act like an adult. (Note to all you parents out there: I know you’re all pretenders!)

But she’s wrong about “MacArthur Park.” I quite admire the song. She was probably referring to when I wrote this, “And ‘MacArthur Park’ from the days when metaphor didn’t embarrass Americans.” But that was a complaint about Americans and not the song.

The truth is that I am not much of a fan of strict metaphor. I find that it no longer leads to great art. Most people, however, are are just fine with metaphor but then scoff in the most affected way when it is used in an emotionally vulnerable way. I think songs like “MacArthur Park” and “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” are great. In fact, they are more than great; they are brave.

“Jurassic Park” is a straight parody of “MacArthur Park.” It is clever, as Weird Al Yankovic songs usually are. It does, however, really show off his weakness as a singer. Richard Harris was a far better singer. But that’s a minor point. The animation is also very good. I personally have no problem with Barney, but I thought it was very funny when his head was bitten off by a “real” dinosaur.

Afterword: Jimmy Webb’s Jurassic Park

I can’t get “MacArthur Park” out of my head. The image of a cake in the rain is so idiosyncratic! Who thinks of such things?! Jimmy Webb obviously. And he claims to have actually seen such a thing. But the reason the image works is because it seems almost unthinkable. Who would leave a cake out in the rain? It speaks to the intensity of the feeling and more than makes up for taking the metaphor to its logical conclusion, “And I’ll never have that recipe again.” Apparently, Jimmy Webb likes “Jurassic Park” very much and has even performed it live.

22 thoughts on “Morning Music: Jurassic Park by Weird Al Yankovic

  1. I couldn’t remember if you did or not. I think I may have had it mixed up with Don McLean (“The Saga Begins” is based on one of McLean’s songs.)

        • It is an incredibly sentimental song that trivializes van Gogh’s life and work. And it takes the pretentious view that “the world” could not appreciate him, but obviously, the intent is to flatter the singer and the listener that they are more elevated. It’s pretty enough though.

          • Yeah, that’s fair. It’s actually a perfect companion to “Vincent and the Doctor,” one of my favorite of Matt Smith’s Doctor Who episodes. Both are well-meaning tributes to a great artist who was underappreciated in life, both extrapolate to him being a great man overall (I know nothing of Van Gogh’s personal life), and both go a bit too far in hammering home the point. They have strengths and flaws, and for me the strengths outweigh the flaws.

            • If you can, check out the Altman film “Vincent & Theo” with Tim Roth as Van Gogh. I can’t say enough good things about it.

            • More replies (sorry!) I don’t think the showrunners on “Doctor Who” knew what to do with Peter Capaldi in his first season. Good Lord did they nail it in the second. The imposter alien invaders thing was quite intelligent but unfocused until this bit of sheer brilliance: “SIT DOWN AND TALK!”

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBv_lwQWxoM

              It might be my favorite Who line ever . . . except that a few episodes later Moffat came up with “the shepherd’s boy says.” You know what I mean. Now my favorite line is “that’s a hell of a bird.”

              • I haven’t watched the second Capaldi season. I’m pretty much done with Moffat. Season 8 had its moments, but when Clara kidnapped the Doctor and took him to Mount Doom to extort him into bringing her boyfriend back to life, that was the shark-jumping moment for me. Still, I’ve seen the “sit down and talk” speech, and it’s very good, even out of context.

            • I probably would have no problem with the song if it were just about some lost love one rather than the actual man. I’d also probably like it more if it were about a less well known artist. It seems too easy. But I love this song:

      • Did, throughout most of the ’90s. “The music you forgot to remember, but the music I remembered not to forget.” (As a Northern Michigan University employee, I got free tuition and took countless classes, playing the “eternal student” game–including as DJ on their radio station and Op/Ed contributor to their paper.)

        • That reminds me that after I had dropped out of college, found that I didn’t want to be a baker the rest of my life, and enrolled in the JC, the big issue was whether the school was going to start charging $50 per semester. In California, at that time, at least an AA was effectively free. What a lot of people want today is to go back to the days when only the rich can get a college degree.

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