Nostalgia: Weezer’s Blue Album Edition

April 21, 2011

I think we all go through phases with music. Sometimes we’re keeping up with what is hip and current. Other times you are knee deep in old records you have heard a million times or should have heard a million times because they’re old.

In the form of the latter, about once a year I find myself listening to Weezer’s Blue Album a million times on repeat. I rarely hear a song from the Blue Album on the radio, but if I do then I would rather be shot than change the channel. I love this album and if there is some ever evolving sub-category of obsequiousness entitled “modern classic” then I would easily throw Weezer’s Blue Album into that intangible time capsule for aliens or future super humans to find and allow this CD to define us.

Jeebuz they looks young. Because they were. And so was I.

In 1994, I was 11. This album came out and I thought my generation had its own Beatles.

I thought there was literally no limit this band could ever achieve and then bust through with their nerdy guitar riffs.

For a few years, it seemed like that was correct. Their second album Pinkerton was a triumph as well. But following that there was the big layoff and was ended with the Green Album. Outside of “Hash Pipe”, I didn’t like much or anything off the Green Album. After the Green, we got Maladroit. If any other band that’s name wasn’t Weezer put out Maladroit then I would’ve like it more. I thought it was ok, but not really what I wanted out of Weezer. It wasn’t the pop mess I thought the Green Album was. Then there was Make Believe. I did not ever like “Beverly Hills”. Since, Weezer and I have been in a more laissez faire relationship. If I hear a song I’ll listen, but I’m not eagerly seeking anything out and nothing I’ve heard from them makes me want to hear more.

I guess you could say the breaking point was “Beverly Hills”. But the Green Album was really enough for me to stop. It was clear that they were not the same musical group that made the first two albums. The albums after Pinkerton are the Star Wars prequels, animated series, video games, books et cetera and it’s just like stop for my sake. Blue Album is Return of the Jedi with the hits and mix of pop, humor, and epicness. Pinkerton is Empire Strikes Back with its sadness, hipster approval like that was the real great album that got lost without the big MTV singles.

Anyway, the Blue Album is one of my favorite CDs and I doubt that will ever change. I’ve listened to it so much that it hasn’t become worn it has become timeless. I still listen to this CD thinking that this band could have been the Beatles.

After so many listens, I now have permanent feelings regarding each track and I would like to share that with you…

My Name is Jonas

Arguably, my favorite song on the album. It was the first thing I heard from them in a recorded state. I would imagine that I saw the “Buddy Holly” video or heard it on the radio or something and then I got the album. But no matter how the seed was planted, the first song I heard come out of my CD player was this song. This song started the album off with incredible amount of energy and still to this day defines who I think Weezer is as a band. They’re a bunch of nerdy guys who can rock. You don’t have to be Zakk Wylde or in Metallica to play a guitar. You don’t need big biceps or tattoos or have a motorcycle look to shred on guitar. Right off the bat, Rivers et al are tearing it up. The song itself has a great journey feel that this should be the beginning song as if it was cut from marble to be a demon headed sculpture to stand outside a castle labyrinth of music inside. If you can’t deal with this song then you won’t be able to deal with what lays behind. Also, it’s fun. And who doesn’t like fun? People who don’t like this album.

No One Else

The intro always throws me. It is this descending waterfall of guitars right into the poppiest vocals from Rivers and the poppiest lyrics. Have I skipped this track? Sure. Sometimes I don’t feel like thinking about the unattainable dream girl. But at this song continues it continues to rock and the end of it really rocks. The lyrics and the sentiment is why I think of the Beatles. It is bubble gum, but it’s rock music. They also throw in this little guitar solo and it sounds great. It is almost at war with each other like the music is trying to stop the lyrics from being so lightly and get carried away in the riffs. The song easily makes me think of the prototypical John Cusack hero in a movie searching for that one true love/soulmate girl who just so happens to be in his Math class.

The World Has Turned and Left Me Here

If I was naming my favorite songs off this album, I would never think of this song, but I enjoy it thoroughly every time I hear this song. I’ve never been entirely sure if there is a designated “B-side” anymore because these albums came out on CDs, but the idea of a hidden gem “B-side” is still a poetic idea. This song makes me think of that. As they sing about loss, I think about this song being lost in the shuffle of the next two songs, which were big hits. It’s a song that when I’m listening to the album I feel like it just fills out the album perfectly. I’m not saying it is the filet mignon, but it is about the best mashed potatoes you’re going to get as a side. It’s a longer than the past two songs and it has a haunting coldness to it. I feel like this haunting coldness in this song is a set-up for the immense finale on this album. In three songs – rock, pop, haunting. It’s something they do a few times very very well on this album.

Buddy Holly

Well, obviously… the video…

Easily… EASILY one of the greatest music videos ever. As mentioned this may have been my first exposure to Weezer. It definitely was visually. Not only were they making some of the best music available, but they were also apart of one the funniest and most creative videos. It was an insanely effective video. I remember people of all ages talking about. Specifically the elderly… people my parent’s age. The talk was for two reasons: 1. older people actually knew and liked Happy Days. I had seen Happy Days, but I was a lot more enamored with G.I. Joe shooting laser missiles at Cobra Commander to give a flying fuck about Fonzie being cool because he could start a jukebox with a love tap. But these olders like Happy Days or at least had some reverence for it and seeing it like this being ironically referenced like this was eye catching for them. #2. The sheer alien technology that must’ve been used to make the video. The idea that someone could transport themselves into the background of a Happy Days episode was MADNESS! Area 51 was real and this is what we learned from them. They broke through the fourth wall and have gone into the television and did it traveling in time as well. They’ve done it! Next year we’re all getting flying cars like in The Jetsons!

Plus it’s a great song. Even the name “Buddy Holly” and Rivers having that look with glasses was just perfect.

Undone – The Sweater Song

On the heals of visual creativity, “The Sweater Song” was a wildly creative song. The whole scene of being at a party and not just singing about, but acting it out was so different. At the time, I was 11 and I had no concept of the reality of this song. As I have been in many (not braggin’, amirite?) social situations involving booze and old friends, this song is to a T what I’ve experience in some sad realities. It is true to life. I always loved this song from the first moment I heard it. I loved the storytelling. I loved how slow it starts and how rocking it gets. I still feel that way, but you throw in the “I’ve been in situations like this” and it feels even closer. Also, I remember when this song came out and people thought is was so “weird” and I know a lot of people didn’t like it or couldn’t get into it. I liked that it was simple and silly, but somehow it was pushing the envelope. I thought it was great and liked it better than “Buddy Holly” thus solidifying again that I choose the weird over the conventional always.

Surf Wax America

I’ll never forget this one moment in middle school where we were given the opportunity to take poetry and explain the meaning of it through pictures and give an oral presentation about it. I’ll say his name is Chris. Chris was a kid in my class and had been in a bunch. He was an artistic kid, with that California look of a hint of tan and the hair swept over his brow well before Bieber was an itch in someone else’s whatever. But Chris gets up to do his presentation. He announces politely to the class that the poetry he will be doing is Weezer’s song “Surf Wax America”. At that moment, so many factoids about the truth in life flooded over me and nearly drowned me like the waves of water the song suggests.

1. Chris was cool and he just established this with a granite fist – needless to say I felt that the girls in that room wanted to give Chris an oral presentation of their own … which was not the same feeling any of the rest of the guys were getting explaining one of Shakespeare’s billion sonnets or Robert Frost walking in the snowy woods.

2. Music is poetry and I could have done a song instead of some lame ass poetry – that was a shocking revelation. It was something that I wanted to tuck away and use for some other occasion, but never have gotten the chance to. But instantly, I felt like it would have been much more enjoyable listening to “Surf Wax America” over and over again than reading whatever 16th century stuff I found.

3. “Surf Wax America” is a great song. I loved Blue Album, but in the world of “skippable” tracks I had unknowingly donated a spot for “Surf Wax America” and I did so wrongly. Good song. Fun song. Good visuals.

More than anything, I realized that one can always outsmart a teacher and in doing so earn an untold amount of respect from me. The teacher couldn’t argue with Chris. He was right and he followed this all be giving a good presentation. He beat her at her own game. I respected it. I also was envious because as mentioned the girls were even more transfixed on surfer boy than usual.

Say It Ain’t So

One of the hardest rocking songs for Weezer. It starts off light and slow and builds into one of their grimy numbers. It also is a great peak back into the darkside of Weezer. They are not afraid of dabbling in some unconventional lyrics that some may think would be better suited for their peers like Nirvana or Smashing Pumpkins or whoever who dealt with more “serious” sounding lyrics. As for my memory, it is a more recent one. It is from college. Two friends of mine, Ed and Dave formed an acoustic guitar duo called FwP or Free with Purchase. They weren’t selling out stadiums unless you would consider the local SJU lounge a stadium. They did play some originals – notably a song “Country Boy”, which is supposed to be happy I assume, but I believe it to be one of the most depressing songs ever. They mostly played covers. One cover I particularly liked and was one of the first covers they did was “Say It Ain’t So”. I saw FwP play this song about a dozen times and it was the same every time. To a T. Dave was under the burden of singing the main with Ed with light back-ups. About halfway through the song, Dave would be belting this song out that his face would red going to purple. He was putting it all out there and when the song hits its fevered pitch – you would literally think Dave’s head was going to explode and blood and brain matter and everything would be all over the floor. The song makes me think of them, which is a good thing. Also, an excellent song.

In the Garage

After the dramatic frenzy in the last number, this song is a part of a nice double lull vacation where one can get settled before Weezer drops the hammer on them in the last song. “In the Garage” makes me think of friends. Plain and simple. It sounds like a song that would be in the background of a montage of dudes just duding it up. Just a bunch of bros hanging. It’s a good song and it is almost ballady at moments. It’s simple and light, but its like a wonderful seasoning on great piece of fish. Is that lemon pepper on this salmon? Excellent.

Holiday

Almost sounds like it could be the last song on the album. It reminds me a lot of “No One Else” in temperament. It’s sing-songy and could have been written by the Monkees, but it has this churning electric guitar that clearly makes this a 90’s rock song. It was a typical song for this 90’s alternative rock or whatever movement. It’s electric, it’s poking fun, it’s rocking, it’s pop, but it’s not the same pop. The climax of the song culminates with distorted feedbacking guitars and them almost charging at you. It’s the pop music that was created by people who listened to what The Cars did to pop music, but also listened to angry guitars of The Ramones and The Pixies. Again, another defiance that you don’t have to be ZZ Top to rock a guitar.

Only in Dreams

Not many songs are this epic. “Stairway to Heaven” is this epic. And that’s what I’m getting at. If Weezer made the Lord of the Rings trilogy it would be this song. That’s how incredible at 8 minutes this song is. It is full of emotion and has highs and lows. It’s like climbing Everest. It’s making it to different summits and plateaus to take these breaks between this journey upwards until the zenith, which in “Only in Dreams” is an explosion of music.

What I specifically think about…

One of the greatest anime music videos ever made – “Only in Dreams” and Cowboy Bebop.

I have watched this video countless times. It still is just as great as the first time. The song never gets any less impressive. It is almost unthinkable they made a song this long and this ridiculous and this everything on their first album. It took a lot of balls. A lot of nerdy balls.

This band at one time could have been the Beatles or America’s Radiohead. I still listen to this album and feel like they could. It didn’t happen, but they certainly showed in this and Pinkerton that it was there.

So… listen to the album for hopefully the millionth time for you as well.

If this album came out today, I still think it would be one of the best albums I’ll ever hear.

Questions?

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One Response to “Nostalgia: Weezer’s Blue Album Edition”

  1. Damn. 11 year old you was exponentially cooler than 11 year old me. I was definitely not expanding my musical horizons on a quest to find The Beatles of our generation in middle schol. At 11, I was a connoisseur of the cassette tape single, collecting such classics as “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Waterfalls”. Big Boyz II Men fan, too. And when you were listening to Weezer in 1994, I was listening to Ace of Base and Bryan Adams.

    “The Sweater Song” was the first I’d heard of Weezer, but that wasn’t until 1997 or 1998. I was ni Ohio when I heard it. My mom hated it, and at that time I was a prick of a 13 year old, so I loved it. I love a lot of the songs on this album, but yet don’t own it. Pretty sure that’s a crime punishable by death. Or at least shunning.

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