Here’s more of what Yankovic had to say about his laugh-filled but seriously enviable 35-year career.
On how he keeps his old song parodies fresh for audience members not even born then: “One of my rules for a good parody song is it has to be funny on its own even if you aren’t familiar with the original source material. The best example is my ‘Star Wars’ parody ‘The Saga Begins,’ which is based on Don McLean’s ‘American Pie.’ These kids have no idea about that original 1971 song, they just respond to it on the level of it being about ‘Star Wars.’
“The funny thing is, not long after my version of the song came out, Madonna came out with a disco version of ‘American Pie’ and all these kids were saying, ‘Why is Madonna doing an unfunny version of a Weird Al song?!’ ”
On the lasting legacy of “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota,” his 1989 hit based on the tourist stop in Darwin: “I’ve only been there once and it was after I’d written the song. It’s a bit off the beaten path, but I’m glad I made the pilgrimage. Now, they have pictures of me up there on the wall. I talked to somebody recently that had some kind of affiliation with the place, and they gave me some kind of figure, like 80 percent of the tourism they get is because of me. That’s nice to hear if true.”
On what would have been his other big Minnesota connection, several proposed parodies that Prince repeatedly turned down: “One of my ideas was to use the music of ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ with the lyrics of ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ theme song, which was actually going to be the centerpiece of [Yankovic’s self-made 1989] the movie ‘UHF.’ After Prince turned it down, then it became Dire Straits blended with ‘Beverly Hillbillies.’ I had more ideas, too, but after a while I just got the message and stopped asking, and that’s totally fine.
“I’ll never do a Prince song at this point. Legally, I could go to the estate and ask permission. But ethically, I wouldn’t do it because I’ve always respected the wishes of the artist. And Prince made his wishes exceedingly clear.”