Prince’s untimely passing back in April was a difficult pill for pretty much every music fan to swallow. But for “Weird” Al Yankovic, though, the hurt goes much deeper. For while we merely must accept that there are now a finite number of Prince songs in this universe, Yankovic is staring into the expiration of a long-term dream.
Prince and Yankovic both started their musical careers in 1976. Though they were on exceptionally different career trajectories, the two singer-songwriters rose to prominence at the same time, both surfing the marketing wave of MTV and these new-fangled music video thingamajigs. This gave Yankovic plenty of opportunities over the decades to lovingly deflate the solemnity of Prince’s religion and sex-drenched funk-rock hits.
“I had a parody of ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ that was about The Beverly Hillbillies,” Yankovic told People in a recent interview. “And I wanted to do something funny with ‘When Doves Cry,’ and ‘Kiss.’ For ‘1999,’ I wanted to do an infomercial where you could get anything you wanted by dialing 1-800-something-1999.”
Unfortunately for all of us, the 56-year-old pop musical parodist is a man of impressive character, so he refuses to release a song caricature unless he receives the blessing of its subject’s creator. Usually, that’s not a problem, because who wouldn’t want to have Weird Al mock their art? (“Kurt Cobain said you haven’t really made it until there’s a Weird Al spoof,” Yankovic bragged.) But the Tiny Purple One—who was not known for his sense of self-denigration—always refused to grant permission. Until recently, though, Yankovic always held out hope that one day his luck would change.
“It’s too bad,” he said. “I hadn’t approached him in about 20 years because he always said no, but I had this fantasy that he’d come out with a new song, I’d have a great idea, he’d finally say yes, and it would erase decades of weirdness between us. But that’s obviously not going to be the case.” Let’s count that as one more potentially great song that’s now never going to exist.