Anonymous said: Rushmore: Weird Al and Bob Dylan

Late-breaking Rushmore post. I actually know who asked this one, but the veil of anonymity shall remain intact here. Besides, is there a greater songwriting pair than Bob Dylan and “Weird Al” Yankovic?

Dylan first:

1. "Oh Sister" So, first, I think Desire is way underrated. That could be because it was the first Dylan album I ever heard in its entirety, but whatever, this song is gorgeous. Andrew Bird a cover for his Soldier On EP that knocks me out.

2. "Like a Rolling Stone" The songwriting is ace, of course, but what really makes this song, in its recorded version, so indelible for me is that you can hear the joy of spontaneous creation in it. There was no arrangement. Al Kooper made up that organ hook after the tapes were rolling, pretty much out of panic. There are bum notes all over the place. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

3. "Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right" the thing I love most about this song is that the title is totally a lie, and there’s not a second in the song where that’s not abundantly clear. I love his guitar playing on this song, too.

4. "Isis" Yes, I’m going to the well of Desire twice in a top four. Is a Rushmore really a top four? Or just four things that provide a good cross-section of what you value and find personally important? I think it’s the second thing. Anyway, I love this song.

Rounding out the top ten: “Tangled Up in Blue” “Maggie’s Farm” “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” “This Wheel’s On Fire” “Buckets of Rain” “Hurricane”

"Weird Al" Yankovic:

1. "Dog Eat Dog" This is the Talking Heads style parody—specifically, it plays off “Once in a Lifetime” without outright parodying it—that Al was born to do. “I-I-I-I-I Think I made a big mistake! Where’s my liquid paper? Where’s my liquid paper?!”

2. "Trapped in the Drive-Thru" R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet” is great specifically because it’s so outlandishly self-indulgent, repetitive, and garishly soap operatic. It’s a masterpiece in its own stop-and-stare kind of way. So boiling all of its drama down to twelve minutes of totally mundane we-gotta-get-something-to-eat non-drama is perversely the only way to make it funnier. Going further out would have been too much. As it is, the melodramatically voiced conversations about what’s on TV, voicemails from cousin Larry, people failing to get into big confrontations, and forgetting your wallet are pitched just right to be hilarious. The best part is when he drops the “oh, and that’s all I could say was ‘oh’” bit verbatim into a completely different context.

3. "Yoda" It’s the original Star Wars and The Kinks, brought together in unholy matrimony by my childhood hero. What’s not to love? I like it when the fourth wall between Luke Skywalker and Mark Hammill collapses and it suddenly becomes a song about long-term contracts.

4. "Ear Booker Polka" This is the mini-suite of various polka riffs and musical cliches that Al wrote as a launch pad for his manic polka medleys of hit songs. It’s a versatile piece of music, capable of absorbing the riffs from “Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida” and “Enter Sandman” like The Thing absorbed sled dogs, and hearing all these songs crashing together is always fun. “Polkas on 45” might be my favorite, but “Polka Party” is the one that permanently associated Tears for Fears’ “Shout” with Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach” in my head. Also, props for incorporating the original German-language version of Nena’s “99 Luftballoons” into “Hooked on Polkas.”

Rounding out the top ten: “Whatever You Like,” “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota,” “Dare to Be Stupid,” “Amish Paradise,” “Eat It” (especially when paired with its video)