… Weird Al’s The Saga Begins: it’s a serious song.
Weird Al has said that he doesn’t do serious, and The Saga Begins certainly has humour in it. But in the end, it’s as poignant as the American Pie it parodies – if not more so.
The song outlines Star Wars Episode One. It highlights that Anakin Skywalker – a cute little kid who is full of a little kid’s optimism and confidence – will eventually become the bad guy Darth Vader. He loves his mother; he’s loyal to his friends. He has a big heart … and eventually his fears will betray him into being the exact opposite of all that he had hoped to be. But right now, he’s “just a small fry”, kissing his mother goodbye and dreaming of becoming a Jedi.
How did it all go so wrong?
It went wrong because fear starts to look bigger than anything else. Because tragedy and heartbreak creep into every human life. Because we can so easily succumb to guilt, shame, blame, and anger. Because kids don’t know all that lies before them, all the troubles and obstacles and challenges – they just forge ahead, laughing, as though they can conquer all, with no idea about how hard it can get.
So why would Weird Al make a serious song?
I don’t think he did.
I think he made a humourous song about something super serious. Something that everybody faces and struggles with and often fails at. We give in to our fears, and turn the world into a piece of poo, for ourselves and others.
Laughing at it.
The chorus of The Saga Begins refers to how Anakin is so hopeful now, and so determined and cavalier and certain; that it’s only later that he becomes Vader. This chorus is the part that makes this (for me, anyway) into a serious song. But it’s also the part that asks us to laugh. It’s the part that asks us to go back to those dreams we had. It invites us to go back to that beginning – to that time in our hearts when we didn’t know what lay before us, and we just forged ahead, laughing, as though we could conquer all.
The last verse? Where he (as Obi-Wan) accepts that he has to train this boy? That’s where the shift is – where life can go forward fearful and Vader-laden, or where it can stay confident and happy and laughing and good. Obi-Wan takes everything so seriously, and he keeps telling Anakin to take things more seriously – and look where that led them.
How do you face your fears? And, more to the point, how do you encourage others (i.e., kids) to face their fears? Are you on the Vader path? Are you making the next generation serious and scared? Are you conquered by life? – or laughing at it?
Don’t make a world where Weird Al has to write a serious song.