It was 20 years ago today…October 1996

Weezer:  Pinkerton

Where to start with one of my favorite albums of all time?  I bought this album, sound unheard when I saw it at the listening station of Blockbuster Music soon after it came out.  “The Blue Album” was such a lightning rod for my young consciousness, I knew that the followup was going to be everything I hoped for.  What I hoped for was more songs about being a nerd and reveling in that security…what this album is about is the idea that fame and notoriety does not lead to personal happiness.

With such heady subject matter, some of the songs, while Rivers Cuomo wrote them as autobiographies, don’t really hit their mark as personal touchtones.  That said, “Across the Sea” and “Tired of Sex” are good songs, they just don’t have the personal relevance of a “In the Garage” or “Only In Dreams”.

Ok, that out of the way, let’s cover some of the other 8 amazing tracks on this album.  Tracks three and four, “No Other One” and “Why Bother?” are kind of two sides of the same problem.  “No Other One” is a gorgeously written piece about falling so in love with somebody that you can’t even imagine anybody else meeting your expectations.  On the other hand, “Why Bother?” is a track about being too afraid to be with somebody because you know there will be the inevitable rejection down the road.  What both of these songs speak to are common feelings of teenage and early adulthood.  In his early 20s, Rivers was very good at writing teenage longing tracks.  It’s a little bit of a different story when one is trying to do the same in his 40s.

Two tracks later, “The Good Life” has the protagonist of the story longing to get back into the scene and “not wanting to be a lone man any more”.  Skipping two tracks (which I will get back to in the next paragraph), the track “Falling For You” has the protagonist finding somebody new and feeling such a strong sense of longing that they are thinking of settling down with their newfound attraction.  What you get with these songs is somebody vacillating between intense feelings of loneliness and intense feelings of belonging.

Ok, those two tracks I skipped.  “El Scorcho” was the first radio single & video from Pinkerton, and as such was the launching pad for describing what the albums central tenets were to the curious masses.  Yes, a song that makes references to Madam Butterfly as effortlessly as it disses Green Day was a quirky introduction to the album, but to my impressionable 1996 teenage mind, it all not only worked, it made sense.  Of course somebody would write an ode of longing to somebody he had a new found interest in.  Alright, so it was a little creepy that he read their diary, but it all told a story about screaming that you were waiting for somebody to notice.

“Pink Triangle” is a track in a similar vain, but this time the singer of the object’s affection, they discover is not and never will return that affection on account of them being interested in members of the same sex.  This song was just rebellious enough, what with the chorus featuring the word “lesbian”, that I fell instantly in love.

The closing track on the album, “Butterfly”, is just Rivers Cuomo and an acoustic guitar, and tells the story of catching a butterfly, only to find that the butterfly has later died in captivity.  Put less literally, whenever something nice is obtained, it usually ends up being fleeting, which epitomizes perfectly the ups and downs of the rest of the albums songs about dating.

BONUS TRACKS:  No explanation given, but once upon a time, the followup to Weezer’s debut album was set to be called Songs From a Black Hole.  When a Deluxe Edition of Pinkerton was released, it featured some of those tracks saw the light of day.  Once, “Blast Off” was about setting off on a long space journey.  Another, “Long Time Sunshine”, features an exit piece where the members of the band sing pieces of “Blast Off”, “Why Bother”, and “I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams” (the last of which was eventually a b-side for “The Good Life”).  Enjoy the two bonus tracks.

Weezer are still a band, they released their 4th “self titled” album earlier this year, this time, affectionately called, blasphemously enough, “The White Album” by their fans.  For a hardcore Weezer fan from the 1990s, their albums have never again attained the magic of The Blue Album and Pinkerton, but this nerd holds those two albums in such high regard that it is unlikely another band will ever attain such vaunted status for their first two albums.

 

 

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