Friday, October 24, 2008

Weezer, the Shout inside Your Head: or, Why Weezer Rocks!

I came to Weezer a little late for a man my age. I remember hearing all my junior high classmates raving about them and their first hit video "Buddy Holly," but I didn't care; Weezer was just an act back then.

About a year ago I fell in love with "Pinkerton," Weezer's second and greatest album. (pictured left) Every song on the album rocks so hard. The guitars are rough and the lyrics are simple on the surface and addictively catchy. Songs like "Tired of Sex," and "The Good Life" complement each other nicely; the former bemoans a full life of empty sex; the latter wonders when and how old age sat in.

Though all the songs on "Pinkerton" seriously rock, it's "El Scorcho" that takes the prize. Combining a resounding chant that loops in your head for hours with smashing drums and edgy guitars, the song speaks from the heart, and, most importantly, shouts out loud what every guy on Earth has thought to himself upon seeing his dream girl(s). And that's the amazing power of Weezer's songs quintessentially displayed in "El Scorcho:" the power to crystallize and shout out loud the things we fantasize about, the lines we wish could say to someone, and the feelings that we wrestle with when sleep won't come.

The chorus to "El Scorcho" is simple enough: "I'm a lot like you so please, hello, I'm here, I'm waiting. I think I'd be good for you, and you'd be good for me." Everyone who's ever had a crush on someone has thought those very words. The chorus speaks loudly and the song hammers home the point at 2:13 with: "How stupid is it, for all I know you want me to, but maybe you just don't know what to do, and maybe you're scared to say 'I'm fallin' for you'." I still think these things; these words make-up a universal daydream; these words address the perennial uncertainties that plague human relationships! Listen for yourself:

Along with "Pinkerton" I really enjoy the "Blue Album," mainly because at this stage in the game Weezer knew how to channel the thoughts echoing in our heads. With the "Green Album," and whatever else came after that (I don't care about the 'later weezer') the band lost more than their bassist, they lost touch with their own internal monologues- or at least didn't include it in songs. Maybe something inside Weezer's head fundamentally changed when they came to stardom. Maybe they lost the insecurities that made their music so special. Success changes people.

If my theory here is correct then I'm extremely pleased that Weezer's latest album, the "Red Album" bombed. What a disgraceful piece of work. I was listening to it on my iPod shuffle and thought I had downloaded the wrong album because I didn't have any cover art telling me "yes, the disgrace you're listening to is Weezer."

Even though 90% of the "Red Album" is extremely bad, the hit song "Pork and Beans" shines like a diamond in the rough. In "Pork in Beans" I hear the same magic at work that launched "El Scorcho." Back to their old selves, we hear Weezer yelling an anthem of freedom- or at least what they'd say if they had the guts:

"I'm gonna do the things that I wanna do, I ain't gotta thing to prove to you. I eat my candy with the pork and beans, excuse my manners if I make a scene. I ain't gonna wear the clothes that you like, I'm finally dandy with the me inside. One look in the mirror and I'm tickled pink, I don't give a hoot about what you think."

Now that's the Weezer that rocks! Weezer rocks because they shout out what we're all too afraid to say for ourselves. The music connects with our own fears, insecurities, and uncertainties and shouts them out into the open. When I sing along at the top of my lungs I'm actually shouting out my fears, insecurities, and uncertainties. It feels so good to yell all those thoughts out my head. It's a rush to say what you want how you want to, and Weezer helps makes this expression possible and supremely fun.
Sorry for the cruddy second video but all the real "Pork and Beans" video can't be embedded from YouTube. At least you can hear the song and read the lyrics.
Top: "Pinkerton" album cover features my favorite Japanese woodblock print (浮世栄) by Hiroshige (広重) called Kanbara (蒲原).


  1. I have been a Weezer fan for a very long time. How long? I don't really know. I remember finding their blue album in dollar bin at a local record store and getting excited to have my very own copy of the buddy holly song. Like you, I felt burned by their fourth and fifth offerings. Rubbish I said once and then said over and over again until I almost started to hate them. But I disagree on the red album. Sure, they're trying too hard to incorporate too many disparate elements, but they did manage to get back to what makes them so coooool. The first song, Troublemaker, is probably my favorite. It addresses the horrific problem of suburban whiteness and stupidity and the recourse that such folk take - troublemaking. It is a part of my biography and my lost youth, like so many of Weezer's good songs. Heart songs is also good and beautiful in the sentimental way that Weezer has of implying without actually killing it. I shall review my latest favorite musical discovery shortly at causerie. Peace,