Harman Patil

Another One Rides the Bus

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B-side  "Gotta Boogie"
Recorded  September 14, 1980
Length  2:36
Format  7" single
Genre  Comedy, polka
Another One Rides the Bus
Released  February 1981 (Initial release and TK re-release) May 3, 1983 (Rock 'n Roll Records)

"Another One Rides the Bus" is a 1981 parody of Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" by American comedy musician "Weird Al" Yankovic. The song describes a person riding in a crowded public bus. It was recorded live on September 14, 1980, on the Dr. Demento Show, hosted by Barret "Dr. Demento" Hansen. Accompanying Yankovic was Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz, who would go on to be the parody artist's long-time drummer.

Contents

The song became a hit on the Dr. Demento Show, as well as an underground success. Hoping to capitalize on the success of the song, Yankovic originally released "Another One Rides the Bus" on an EP of the same name. Later, the song was issued as a commercial single by TK Records, which peaked at 104 on the U.S. Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles. However, it quickly fell off the chart when TK subsequently closed. In 1983, Yankovic re-released the song on his debut album. The song has been well received by critics, and Brian May—the guitarist of Queen—has expressed his amusement with Yankovic's parody.

Background

In 1979, while he was still a student at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo, California, Alfred “Weird Al” Yankovic recorded a rough parody of "My Sharona" by The Knack entitled "My Bologna". Fortuitous circumstances led to the song being released by Capitol Records on December 25, 1979. Although the single managed to sell 10,000 copies a month after its release, Yankovic soon learned that Capitol had no interest in promoting the record, or releasing a follow-up single. After graduating in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science degree in architecture, Yankovic still had an interest in releasing parody music, and soon turned his attention to "Another One Bites the Dust" by rock band Queen. The song had been written by Queen bassist John Deacon and released on their 1980 album The Game.

Writing and recording

Lyrically, "Another One Rides the Bus" describe a person riding in a crowded public bus. In the first verse, the bus proceeds to pick up more people. The second verse discusses the various things that are touching the person (such as a suitcase and an elbow), and about how several of his personal items are missing (like a contact lens and a wallet). In the third verse, the speaker is trying to get fresh air but the bus' fan is broken and his window does not open. This causes him to exclaim that he "hasn't been in a crowd like this since I went to see The Who." Finally, he laments about not getting off the bus sooner.

Yankovic debuted the song live on September 14, 1980, on the Dr. Demento Show, hosted by Barret "Dr. Demento" Hansen. While practicing the song outside the sound booth, Yankovic met Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz, who offered to provide percussion for his performance. Because Yankovic did not have a drum kit, Schwartz rhythmically struck Yankovic's accordion case as a way of keeping the beat. The version of "Another One Rides the Bus" that was recorded in 1980 and released in 1981 was later re-released in its original form on Yankovic's eponymous debut album (1983).

The single's b-side is "Gotta Boogie", which was co-written by Joe Earley. The song is a play on words discussing a man with a "boogie" on his finger and his failure to get rid of it. The version of "Gotta Boogie" included on this single was recorded in April 1980; this song also appeared on Yankovic's eponymous debut album, although in a re-recorded form.

Release

Much like "My Bologna", "Another One Rides the Bus" was a hit on the Dr. Demento Show, and Dr. Demento himself said:

For the next few weeks we got twice as many requests for "Another One Rides the Bus" as for everything else put together. Thank goodness I had a tape rolling! We even got it in stereo. Over the next couple of months that tape was duplicated and re-duplicated all over the world, as the song took on a life of its own. [...] The Dr. Demento Show gained a couple of dozen new station affiliates just because of that song.

Hoping to capitalize on the parody's success, Yankovic attempted to get a record contract. He and Schwartz quickly began duplicating the original "Another One Rides the Bus" recording on cassettes, and the two then sent them to anyone who might be interested in the spoof. Schwartz later joked, "Some were cleverly targeted to record executives, others were randomly addressed. I think one went to Santa Claus, care of the North Pole."

Eventually, Yankovic borrowed some money from Dr. Demento and pressed up one thousand copies of a four-track EP by himself. Yankovic then distributed this EP to various record stores, selling them through consignment deals. Yankovic released the record under Placebo Records, a one-off label founded by Yankovic for the sole purpose of distributing the EPs. Due to the underground success of the record, Yankovic secured a short-lived record deal with TK Records, and in February 1981, the label released "Another One Rides the Bus" as a single. The record was rush-released, but managed to chart on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 singles. However, TK abruptly closed due to financial troubles and the single fell off the charts.

Domestically, the single was released in a generic TK Records sleeve. International versions of the single, however, featured different artwork. The Dutch release, for instance, featured artwork depicting a crowded bus. According to Yankovic's official site, this version of the "single used artwork similar to what would appear on Al's first album."

Reception

The song was well-received by music critics. In a later review of Yankovic's debut album, Eugene Chadbourne of Allmusic called the parody "a classic piece of musical humor" that showcased Yankovic's ability to knock "the wind out of any pretentious, overblown rock anthem by slightly adjusting the lyrical content." Nathan Rabin, in the book Weird Al, The Book (2012), praised the song, writing:

Though the modest Yankovic himself laughs off the notion, we can all agree that "Another One Rides the Bus" embodies the anarchic spirit of punk rock just as much as anything Johnny Rotten or The Clash ever recorded. It's the essence of punk: an enraged, defiant malcontent with a long list of grievances screaming his pain to an indifferent world. [...] Yankovic came to symbolize a curiously ubiquitous fixture of new wave: the enraged geek.

Brian May, the guitarist of Queen, found the song amusing, and said in an interview, "There's been a few cover versions [of 'Another One Bites the Dust'] of various kinds, notably 'Another One Rides the Bus', which is an extremely funny record by a bloke called 'Mad Al' or something in the [United] States—it's hilarious."

Live video

Although no official music video was created for this single, Yankovic and Schwartz performed "Another One Rides the Bus" on The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder. During the performance, Yankovic played his accordion and Schwartz banged on Yankovic's accordion case and played bulb horns. The Tomorrow Show performance was later included on the "Weird Al" Yankovic: The Ultimate Video Collection (2003) DVD as a bonus feature.

Track listing

  1. "Another One Rides the Bus" – 2:36
  2. "Gotta Boogie" – 2:21

References

Another One Rides the Bus Wikipedia


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