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Piece by Piece – Weezer (Blue Album)

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Weezer’s “Blue Album” is a staple of 90s Alt-Rock. The album was released on May 10, 1994. The album was produced by The Cars’ former lead singer Ric Ocasek. The album has always received high ratings, ranging from when it first released to now. It made it onto The Rolling Stones’ “500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” with a rank of 299 and 297 in its 2012 rendition. Rolling Stone praised the album in their year-end review by saying, “Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo is great at sketching vignettes (the Dungeons & Dragons games and Kiss posters that inspire the hapless daydreamer of ‘In the Garage’), and with sweet inspiration like the waltz tempo of ‘My Name Is Jonas’ and the self-deprecating humor of lines like “I look just like Buddy Holly / And you’re Mary Tyler Moore,” his songs easily ingratiate.”

Weezer itself was formed by Rivers Cuomo on February 14, 1992, in Los Angeles. The band’s founding members consisted of Cuomo, Patrick Wilson, Matt Sharp, and Jason Cropper, but Cropper would be fired during “Blue Album’s” development.

The band was able to put together “The Kitchen Tape” as a demo tape, hoping to get attention from major labels with it. They would perform to different audiences during the first months of Weezer’s conception, but it would be tough to get them to stay interested, as grunge was very popular at this time.

In June of 1993, Weezer was signed to DGC Records, and they began recording their self titled debut, “Weezer.” While recording, Jason Cropper would begin acting irrational and out of control due to him learning that his girlfriend was pregnant. He later stated that it was the right decision for that time. He was replaced with Brian Bell, and Cuomo re-recorded all of Cropper’s parts. Later, after the album was finished, Cuomo fired Bell. Cuomo took up playing both guitar parts for the album and did it in one take. Both Bell and Cropper are credited with the album’s recording.

I’ve always been a fan of this album, and I personally have it placed in my favorite top three albums.

The first song in “The Blue Album” is “My Name is Jonas.” The song is an upbeat, never dull kind of song. This is the kind of song that one would have to listen to in order to completely understand. It’s just a little hard to describe. As said by Scott Miller in his book, “Music: What Happened?,” “Musicality everywhere, theatrical dynamics, little golden lyric details where the subplot reveals the whole mood,” which I think is the best description of the song.”

Second in the album is “No One Else.” The song is an upbeat, fast paced song that is based on one of River Cuomo’s ex-girlfriends. The song also ties into “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here,” the next song on this review. The song involves the character in it being jealous, overprotective, and very sexist where the character talks about how he wants his girlfriend to be:  “I want a girl who will talk to no one else/ who puts her makeup on the shelf.” After “No One Else” is “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here.” This song follows after the previous one listed and is the aftermath of the character’s actions in “No One Else,” where his girlfriend finally leaves him, and he is left to think about his actions. As said by comedian Hari Kondabolu, “It comes after track two, “No One Else,” in which [the person in the song] is being completely sexist: “I want a girl who will talk to no one else/ who puts her makeup on the shelf.” He’s just so awful to this woman he’s talking about, and then track three – “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here” – is about the woman leaving him. And it’s justice. This is what happens when you’re sexist: She will leave and she should leave. In addition to the song being amazing, I love that little bit of justice in it.”

Next one up is one of Weezer’s most popular songs, “Buddy Holly.” “Buddy Holly” was inspired by Rivers Cuomo’s girlfriend being teased by his friends. Cuomo didn’t want to include it at first, but the band’s producer, Ric Ocasek, convinced Cuomo to include it in the album. The song features fast paced, loud lyrics, and its instrumentals are about the same in terms of volume too.

Fifth in the album is “Undone – The Sweater Song.” The song goes off in the opposite direction of the album and its theme, with it being slow, quiet (except for the chorus), and with a more story driven pace to it. ” ‘Undone’ is the feeling you get when the train stops and the little guy comes knockin’ on your door. It was supposed to be a sad song, but everyone thinks it’s hilarious,” said Cuomo, when talking about the song in John Luerssen’s book, “Rivers’ Edge: The Weezer Story.” This song is what caught my attention to the album when I had first discovered it.

“Surf Wax America” steers the album back on course with its fun lyrics and fast paced instrumentals. The song doesn’t go into jealousy or loneliness, like with “No One Else” or “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here.” The song was written originally by Patrick Wilson, drummer of Weezer. It’s a careless, happy sing-a-long that really sounds a lot like the Beach Boys, whom Rivers had gotten a lot of inspiration from.

After “Surf Wax America” is “Say It Ain’t So.” “Say It Ain’t So” goes with a slow, quiet opening, and gradually builds once the first lyrics are said. It stays at a calm, quieter tone until we get to the chorus. Once the chorus comes around, it gets into loud sharp stabs with the guitar, before settling down into a louder but more fluid instrumental while the lyrics keep up with its sharp but pleasant tone. Finally, the end goes back to the instrumentals of the beginning but also includes the guitars feedback settling down to an end. I love this song, and it’s generally Weezer’s most well-known, along with “Buddy Holly.” Cuomo’s inspiration for it is a mix of a few things. His dad not being present in his childhood, seeing beer in his refrigerator that belonged to his step dad, and about the subject of alcoholism itself.

“In The Garage” tells the story of a young adult who feels safe surrounded by his favorite things in his garage, where others can’t judge him and his interests. It first starts off with a harmonica, which is completely different from the rest of the album. My guess is that it was supposed to mimic the sound of an accordion, since the harmonica is also paired with a guitar, which gives it this accordion sound to it. The garage it references is the one that the band started in, which helped them take inspiration for the song.

Ninth on the list is “Holiday.” This was one of the first songs that I had listened to when I started listening to the album. Its instrumentals are close to “Buddy Holly.” It keeps up with this uptempo theme, until it hits the peak of the song, where it goes quiet and starts going into a barbershop quartet kind of singing. Its influences are most likely based off of Cuomo’s interests at the time of writing. It takes inspiration from poems that he liked and The Beach Boys’ album, “Pet Sounds,” which was a major influence to Cuomo’s songs at the time.

Last on the “Blue Album” is “Only In Dreams,” which ended the album perfectly. Its runtime is seven minutes and 59 seconds, making it Weezer’s longest song. It has a three minute crescendo involving two guitars, a bass, and the drums. No vocals, just instruments. This song takes an amazing and different approach from the rest of the album and really does good at capturing Cuomo’s song writing. Its story involves a young man being in love with a woman who he wants so much. He can’t escape the thought of her but can’t do anything to help himself because of how nervous he is. Cuomo’s slow, methodical lyrics, along with the dreamy instrumentals, really makes this Weezer’s most ambitious and complex, yet beautiful song.

On my personal Sweet Sounds Scale, its a 10/10. It’s a staple of the 90s, and I hope it can get more attention in this generation of music.

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About the Contributor
Micah Steffens, Staff Writer
Micah Steffens is a 16 year old sophomore who enjoys music, the outdoors, and food. His favorite hobby is listening to music, and he's a fan of bands such as Weezer, Pearl Jam, and Green Day. Micah has 5 other brothers and 2 dogs. He enjoys talking to people and listening to everyone’s opinion, as everyone has a right to one. He enjoys shows such as Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. Micah does sports such as golf and trapshooting. He hopes to pursue engineering after high school.
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