Thirty years ago, on Feb. 28, 1984, “Weird Al” released his second album, In 3-D. I remember listening to that album many, many times until I had all of the lyrics memorized. I recently decided to pick up a vinyl copy just for the heck of it. It’s still just as good as I remembered, and I still know pretty much all of the lyrics (maybe the vagaries of time have obliterated a few here and there).
It’s interesting to relisten to the album as an adult, with more knowledge of the world than I had then. I never fully understood “Buy Me a Condo” when I was eleven, but I’ve grown to appreciate the immigrant experience since then. I was also completely unfamiliar with Bob Marley so I didn’t even realize it was a style parody (a concept with which I was also unfamiliar). Speaking of style parodies, I also had no idea that “Mr. Popeil” was based on the B-52s style until very recently (though how I missed it in more recent years, I don’t know).
“Weird Al” is, of course, best known for his parodies, and this album is no exception. I always loved “The Brady Bunch” and “King of Suede” (I think that I heard that song well before I ever heard the Police song on which it is based) better than the more famous “Eat It.” The former makes sense given how much I still love “The Safety Dance,” but I honestly am not sure what the appeal of the latter was to an eleven-year-old who never wore suits. Maybe it was a sign of things to come since I now wear them much of the time. Who knows?
For this album, though, my favorite songs are the originals. I frequently find myself thinking of “Midnight Star” whenever I’m in the grocery store checkout line. I love reading those ridiculous headlines, and I just read that most of the headlines in the song are actually real (well, in that they actually appeared in tabloids, not that they are about actual real stories). And of course there’s the track from which the title of the album originates, “Nature Trail to Hell.” The recent 3-D movie craze isn’t the first time we’ve been bombarded with movies hyped up with special 3-D effects. I’m sure the technology has progressed quite a bit since the ’80s, but the song still rings true today. I could totally see someone making the movie described in the song.
If you have a copy of In 3-D that you haven’t listened to in a while, break it out and see if you don’t have a similar experience. And if you don’t have a copy, grab one somewhere. And if, heaven forfend, you’ve never even heard the album, do yourself a favor and listen to it on Spotify or something. You won’t regret it!