The Elton John Style Parody Mystery

Questions & Answers with the one and only Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz, Weird Al's drummer since 1980!

Re: The Elton John Style Parody Mystery

by mrmeadows » Sat May 17, 2014 12:30 am

I'm just going to go out on a complete limb and say "Cable TV" was influenced by "Take Me to the Pilot". They don't really sound much alike, but they both go for a gospel-rock kind of feel. They also both utilize female backing vocals in the chorus. It was the B-Side of "Your Song", I believe, so technically not its own single but a fan-favorite and a staple at concerts.

(Also, the lyrics of "Pilot" are kind of nonsensical, as are many of the TV shows and channels Al is inexplicably drawn to in the lyrics of "Cable TV".)
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Re: The Elton John Style Parody Mystery

by bermuda » Sat May 17, 2014 3:30 am

I don't think anyone's associated the Al song with any other artist.

And I won't confirm until both songs are correctly identified, not just one or the other. :hamsters:
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Re: The Elton John Style Parody Mystery

by CharlesNelson » Mon May 19, 2014 12:37 am

Bermuda said one of the two songs - so either the Al or the Elton song - was mentioned in the initial thread, and that the Elton song was not a single of his. I've read through the thread 3 times and I can only find 6 songs.

minnick27: "Was it Hardware Store?"
AccordionChick: "I know the speculation should be elsewhere, but I thought somewhere I heard "Nature Trail To Hell" sort of sounds like "Funeral For A Friend"..."
mrmeadows: "My uneducated guess would be "Cable TV" ... Also, I know "Don't Wear Those Shoes" has been compared more to a style parody of The Kinks, but it came out just a couple years after Elton's "Who Wears These Shoes?", so always wondered if that's where Al got the inspiration to write DWTS."

All other mentions of Elton songs in that thread were singles and therefore not applicable. So the list we're working from, from which we're picking exactly one song, is:

"Hardware Store" - Al
"Nature Trail to Hell" - Al
"Funeral for a Friend" - Elton
"Cable TV" - Al
"Don't Wear Those Shoes" - Al
"Who Wears These Shoes" - Elton

On May 16, mrmeadows first asked if the Al song "has since been popularly identified as being a style parody of a different artist," then guessed the combination of Cable TV/Take Me to the Pilot. Bermuda's reply is what intrigued me. He reminds us that he won't confirm until both songs are correctly identified, not just one or the other, HAMSTERS. This seems to me like his way of saying that mrmeadows got one of his guesses right, not both. Bermuda was not otherwise prompted to remind us of his rules, esp. in such a specific way and with such a pleasant emoticon.

But did mrmeadows guess "Cable TV" correctly? NO, because Bermuda also said the Al song is not associated with any other artist, and "Cable TV" is considered a style parody of Randy Newman. So says Weird Al Wikia: http://weirdal.wikia.com/wiki/Cable_TV.

This means 1.) "Take Me to the Pilot" is the right Elton song, and B.) since "Take Me to the Pilot" was not mentioned in the original thread, the Al song has to come from that list. It's not "Cable TV." I absolutely would not believe it's "Hardware Store" or "Nature Trail to Hell" because logic. That leaves just one option.

I've listened to the two songs back and forth. They don't sound much alike at all, but they do share several little similarities. Elton's has solo piano breaks between chorus and verse, while Al's features a synthesized keyboard that gets a quick interrupting solo bit in the second half of the song (http://youtu.be/Fi0xN499IXE?t=1m02s, http://youtu.be/g2I97P7lOzw?t=2m30s). Also notice how both songs' titles are in the imperative voice. Elton's chorus tells you to "Take me to the pilot, lead me to the chamber," while Al's chorus (and basically the whole song) tells a woman what not to do and what to do instead.

Two things: I know it's been mentioned that "Don't Wear Those Shoes" has been called a style parody of the Kinks, which would nullify it as an option the way "Cable TV" is nullified. But Weird Al Wikia says only the intro style-parodies the Kinks, and the rest is original, with no pastiche attributed: http://weirdal.wikia.com/wiki/Don%27t_Wear_Those_Shoes. And number two, I know the instrumentation for Elton's and Al's songs are pretty different, but I don't think that matters. Once it didn't end up sounding like the Elton target, Al could have easily decided to make a few instrumental changes to take the song in a different direction,which would explain why Al's uses keyboard, not piano. Al once wrote in an Ask Al that that's what happened with "Hardware Store" - he "did it [his] own way instead." http://www.weirdal.com/aaarchive.htm#062806

So I'm reasonably confident in my answer.

Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz. By my line of reasoning, I deduce that the answer to your riddle is that "Don't Wear Those Shoes" was originally supposed to be a style pastiche of "Take Me to the Pilot" by Elton John.

If I'm wrong, I'm already out of ideas. :lol:
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Re: The Elton John Style Parody Mystery

by mrmeadows » Mon May 19, 2014 2:37 am

Wow, CN…that's an impressive breakdown! I had wanted to do something similar to aid us in figuring out the mystery, but I don't think I could have done it quite so detailed!

One correction I would make is that "Who Wears Those Shoes" should be eliminated from the "possibilities" list, since A) it actually WAS a single, and B) Bermuda said he wasn't even familiar with that song to begin with, so unlikely that one would be in the mix.

Also, I'm a little behind on certain emoticon meanings (disclosure: I'm old!), so not sure what the "HAMSTERS!" thing signifies…why does that necessarily mean one of my "Cale TV"/"Keep Me To the Pilot" guesses were right?

Anyway, your guess isn't a bad one, so I'll wait for Bermuda to chime in before making another guess.
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Re: The Elton John Style Parody Mystery

by mrmeadows » Mon May 19, 2014 2:50 am

PS: I can't believe I never picked up on "Cable TV' being a Randy Newman style-parody! It's so dead-on, but never occurred to me! :wacko:
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Re: The Elton John Style Parody Mystery

by mrmeadows » Mon May 19, 2014 4:02 am

Something else occurred to me, in case CN's guess is incorrect: Bermuda said that the target song was not released as a single. . .but how do we read that when it comes to a song like "Candle In the Wind", which was one of the EJ songs mentioned in the original thread? That is, the original version of "Candle" off the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album actually was NOT ever released as a single. However, it was subsequently released as a single years later in the 80's off a live recording, and then again in the 90's when re-written to eulogize Princess Di. So IF Bermuda is being sly, the GYBR version version of "Candle" COULD be the target, since THAT song was never a single.

Just food for thought. No Al song immediately springs to mind as reminding me of "Candle". If I had to TRY and tie a song to it, it would be "Melanie", but Bermuda already shot that guess down. On second thought, forget I said anything. I'm overthinking this....carry on!
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Re: The Elton John Style Parody Mystery

by CharlesNelson » Mon May 19, 2014 4:08 am

mrmeadows wrote:Wow, CN…that's an impressive breakdown! I had wanted to do something similar to aid us in figuring out the mystery, but I don't think I could have done it quite so detailed!

One correction I would make is that "Who Wears Those Shoes" should be eliminated from the "possibilities" list, since A) it actually WAS a single, and B) Bermuda said he wasn't even familiar with that song to begin with, so unlikely that one would be in the mix.

Also, I'm a little behind on certain emoticon meanings (disclosure: I'm old!), so not sure what the "HAMSTERS!" thing signifies…why does that necessarily mean one of my "Cale TV"/"Keep Me To the Pilot" guesses were right?

Anyway, your guess isn't a bad one, so I'll wait for Bermuda to chime in before making another guess.


Thank you mrmeadows! :) As far as HAMSTERS, I just wanted to add that in for effect but was too lazy to look up its code, and I was in quick reply so the smilies weren't listed on the side of the screen for me to grab easily like they are now. :hamsters: :hamsters: :hamsters: :hamsters: :hamsters: Oh, it's just "hamsters." Maybe I should have ventured a wild guess.

Um, but the :hamsters: actually doesn't have any significance in my breakdown. I just figured that since Bermuda actively chose to remind us of his rules, with no other prompting, it was his sneaky way of acknowledging that one of your two songs was right. I could be completely off base about that though!
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Re: The Elton John Style Parody Mystery

by mrmeadows » Mon May 19, 2014 4:37 am

Ah....got it. :hamsters:

I'm going to venture another guess, just for the heck of it: "Nature Trail to Hell" = "Tonight" (from Blue Moves album)

It's a reach, because the song itself doesn't sound so much like NTTH, but the orchestral, piano-heavy bookends do remind me of it a little. Especially the end of "Tonight", which echoes the finale of NTTH quite a bit.
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Re: The Elton John Style Parody Mystery

by bermuda » Mon May 19, 2014 8:48 pm

mrmeadows wrote:PS: I can't believe I never picked up on "Cable TV' being a Randy Newman style-parody! It's so dead-on, but never occurred to me! :wacko:


That's odd to me too, but I hear a similarity now that it's been mentioned.
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Re: The Elton John Style Parody Mystery

by bermuda » Mon May 19, 2014 8:52 pm

CharlesNelson wrote:Bermuda's reply is what intrigued me. He reminds us that he won't confirm until both songs are correctly identified, not just one or the other, HAMSTERS. This seems to me like his way of saying that mrmeadows got one of his guesses right, not both.


Heh, I'm surprised someone didn't think that referred to Radioactive Hamsters! But no, it was just a fun gif I'd never noticed before. Didn't mean anything at all. :yay:

Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz. By my line of reasoning, I deduce that the answer to your riddle is that "Don't Wear Those Shoes" was originally supposed to be a style pastiche of "Take Me to the Pilot" by Elton John.


Other than finding Al and Elton songs that are worlds apart, no, that's not it.

Again, it's an original that was supposed to have a particular Elton song's vibe, but it didn't. When you find out what they are, you'll be able hear that Als was heading in the Elton direction, but didn't quite get there.

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