This morning i was walking down Walnut street listening to The Green Album and “Hash Pipe” came on and i swear i just started crying right in the middle of the intersection of 39th and Walnut.
For those of you not familiar with Weezer’s vast musical catalogue, “Hash Pipe” isn’t a very sad song. In fact, it’s a song that for all intents and purposes is an emotional flatline; it hardly makes narrative sense to begin with, let alone exuding any sort of sentiment. Yet, there i was in the middle of the street at eight thirty five in my Drexel polo shirt shedding tears (and probably being the laughing stock of every Penn student that passed me on their way to class).
Although i’ve always liked Weezer i was never really a “fan” due to that fact that the band is all boys, and i was only into girls. However, last year Gina and I inexplicably were able to obtain tickets to their sold out warmup show in Philly, and to honor the occasion i bought their eponymous album so i could refresh my memory of their most famous songs. For the vast majority of the intervening year i was happy to sit and listen to the familiar blue album, and to sing it at parties and appreciate it as classic modern alternative rock, if there is such a thing.
I bought Pinkerton for Gina years ago when it had just come out, but i had never really listened to the album all the way through. As a result the only songs i really knew “El Scorcho,” “Good Life,” and “Pink Triangle.” With the impending release of Weezer’s 2001 disc i began searching for Pink only to discover that it was nearly impossible to find… chain stores were out of stock and Weezer is virtually nonexistent in Philly used cd stores. Finally i broke down and ordered from Cheap-Cds. It came in on a quiet day in admissions; i put it on and it sounded nice.
At some point the album came home with me and was left indefinitely in my stereo and the songs started seeping into the nooks and crannies of my brain as the disc spun and spun again on repeat. By the beginning of June i had decided that Pinkerton was the answer to Ani DiFranco’s Dilate: wronged, raw, desperate, sexual, and loud (not to mention self-produced). Suddenly i found myself with a relationship album that i could actually identify with – frustration and breaking it off from the boys’ point of view.
Back to this morning. There i was crying in the middle of the street trying to sniffle away my tears or pass them off as an allergy attack. And i found myself wondering: “Why didn’t i cry yesterday when i was listening to Pinkerton?”
The answer is not an easy thing to nail down. At some point during my identification with Weezer’s second album i decided that it was something that i should be able to do… it was something that i should be able to sonically and emotionally recreate in my own fashion. In the virtually listenerless vacuum that my music exists in i should be able to have those songs and to create that sort of sonic equivalent to an open wound.
Some people just identify with an album because they can chill to it, or because some of the lyrics seem to apply to their life. When i identify with music it suddenly becomes a part of my own catalogue, with each song potentially mated with one of my own as a fluid a-side and b-side or as the ebb and flow of a live performance. There are plenty of albums that i like and love, but if i don’t picture myself onstage singing the songs they are not works that i have a large personal overlap with; i just dig the music. Whereas i typically make mismatched or gender-bending pairings between myself and other artists, with Weezer there are songs that are truly twins of my own progeny, separated only by the physical age and emotional distance between Rivers Cuomo and I.
My bitter pairing of “Splinter” & “Hold On Me” is just a weary attempt to escape from someone else’s bed, while “Tired of Sex” laments that being stuck there doesn’t do one much good in the end. “Unstrung” shares its broken heart and strings with “Falling For You.” “Over You” plays with the pushing/pulling gravity of an imploding relationship, but it cannot admit to enjoying the pull the way “Getchoo” does. “Up & Down” is the culmination of the emotions… the breaking point that nothing on Weezer’s album ever gets to but everything seems to inexorably lean towards. My songs aren’t as mature as Rivers’, and it shows in that i am so focused on the breaking while he is focused on the emotions on either side of it. “No Second Chance” laments a relationship that fell apart without ever directly identifying the person its addressing; its mirror is the tangled web between “Across the Sea,” “El Scorcho,” and the mournful “Butterfly” – songs that are more concerned with lusting, liking, and losing rather than just with the snap of a heart torn in two. Each song in that trio is tied into someone and their life more than i’ve allowed any of my songs to be with the possible exception of “Up & Down.”
Or, maybe i’m full of it and i get off on comparing my meager songwriter existence to today’s darlings of rock. I am by no means a great fan of Weezer’s new disc, but today on the street the oohs and claps of “Photograph” were sucked backwards into feedback and out came “Hash Pipe” and i unexpectedly felt that sudden tug of identification. It felt as though i was watching a video of myself after i write my Pinkerton (or my Dilate) as a cohesive album and then casually discard it to move onto crunchier guitars and more fun. “Hash Pipe” is Weezer taking itself less seriously as a band but more seriously as a production. I have yet to let go of the emotions of “Under My Skin,” and i am still writing from the trailing emotions of this year’s wounds… when will i ever be able to tie them up neatly, package them, and then move on to write something that will in its own way supersede them all?
Heaven only knows. Until then i suppose we can just blame my allergies…