Rivers,

 

I know you probably won't read this. And if you do, you probably won't think much of it anyways. But I figured this is the best place to have a chance of contacting you and so it was worth a shot.

Let me start by saying Weezer is one of my favorite groups of all time. I just recently saw you play Pinkerton at the Boston show. I was towards the back, but the show was just amazing and everything I had hoped it to be. I got a T-shirt and left satisfied, it was one of the best shows I've ever seen - and I had just recently seen Arcade Fire, Modest Mouse and the Pixies, all great shows. But something about Pinkerton really resonated with me and it was one of my dreams to see it live, and I'm so glad I got that opportunity.

The Blue album and Pinkerton stand, to me, as two of the greatest rock albums ever written. It doesn't matter if everything after Pinkerton was a thousand times worse than it has been, nothing can or will change the fact that those two albums contained some of the most soul-shatteringly sincere, well written and important songs I've ever heard. I'm a musician myself, just 18 years old, but I'm trying. I know I'm not exactly the best person to give you advice, but music is so important to me, such a passion for me, that I think maybe I could be some help.

As you've probably guessed, Weezer hasn't really enthralled me since Pinkerton. It's not because I refuse to accept change, it's not because I'm some shrugging hipster who insists bands were best when they started. I just feel like the music has lost touches of what made it so magical to me, and I'd like to tell you how I think that magic could be brought back a little bit. I'm sure you've heard a great deal of complainers saying that Weezer's music isn't as personal, sincere or emotional anymore. Well, I'd have to agree with them. Something I always admired so much about Weezer was the ability Rivers (you) seem to have that takes your most intimate, personal, embarrassing and devastating emotions and empowers them by rock music. Suddenly something so feeble and sad has become something that fills an arena with the screaming voices of people who can relate to your music - people who cling to every word. I'm one of those people. Pinkerton helped me through some of the hardest times of my life, not just for the excellent tunes on the album but because I could really relate to it. This was music FROM someone like me, not ABOUT someone like me. This was sincere, it wasn't glossed up or toned down, it wasn't changed to appeal to more people. It was just expression. The music on Pinkerton doesn't worry so much about the people listening to it. It's just music.

I recently heard an interview with you on YouTube talking about Hurley and Pinkerton. The interviewer asked you something to the extent of if bad reviews bother you. You said that you disregard the interviews bashing you just to be cool (as you should), but do listen to those who seem to genuinely care about the music and the band and try to improve it. You then said something a little worrying; you said the band was "running a business here" and if advice could be taken to sell more records, you would be open to hearing it. This instantly rubbed me a little wrong. I remember seeing an interview from 1996 where you said that you didn't really view your music as a "career", but just as expression. You said the reception to the music was luckily good, but your success didn't really matter. You would be doing it either way. You were just lucky that people liked it.

I'm not trying to say you've sold out, but something seems to have happened that has distanced you from the music. Your music has become more commercially acceptable, more simple pop melodies and basic choruses to get stuck in the heads of partying teenagers everywhere. There's nothing wrong with this. But the Blue Album is unique in that it maintained an excellent balance of musical artistry, emotional sincerity, and pop sensibility. It seems like the former traits have been shed with Weezer's old fur, and that's really a shame. See, Rivers, you're an excellent musician. You're an excellent songwriter. You've written countless songs that really matter. Songs like Say It Ain't So, Undone, The Good Life, Falling For You, Only In Dreams, and many others. It just feels like in your new music, you've been stuck rehearsing the formulas of pop music and sticking to the rules so strictly that you've forgotten to break them every once in a while for the sake of musical artistry and expression. The bridge on The Good Life is to this day one of the most beautiful and influential things I've ever heard. The intricacies of the intertwining melodies found on Pinkerton and the Blue Album are not something that could have just been produced by popular demand. These songs were slaved over, and it shows.

Weezer's releasing music at a pretty frequent rate these days. And while I'm always happy to hear new tunes from Rivers and the crew, I'd rather that he works harder on one great album than releases five good albums, no matter how long it takes. The compositions on Pinkerton are so gentle and yet deliberate - you can hear the effort and sincerity dripping off of the music. Honestly, I'm not sure if I've ever heard anything more heartfelt in my life. It sounds like I know you just from listening to your music. Hell, it sounds like my music. I identify with it so much, that it was almost hard to believe when I saw hundreds of other fans who felt the same way at the Pinkerton show in Boston. I saw people practically crying, their eyes shut, fists pumping to the music, screaming out every word. It was an amazing experience for me.

I remember after listening to Blue and Pinkerton (but before listening to any other Weezer) how excited I was to hear the fragile, emotional and yet musically powerful Rivers Cuomo's tunes about getting old. About his balding. About his regrets, his doubts, his fears. His qualms with his ever-impending mortality. The fearful and insecure regrets of all the possible lives he could of lived, options now far gone. Your life may be happier now, but surely it can't be without pain, without regret, without suffering. I was excited to hear that through the music, to be able to connect with you and the music on that level. But instead, it sounds like you're singing about other characters. Hurley was a little closer, but even on one of the highlights of the album, Unspoken, it almost sounds like you're singing about other people in emotional situations. I'm not hearing you here. I'm not hearing your musical expression. I want to hear you, Rivers Cuomo. The one and only. I want to hear what makes you you, not what you can make that other people can identify with. We don't need to be able to understand your lines. We don't need to know who the half japanese girl is to know how you felt. We just know. We can hear it.

As for the band's sound, actual SOUND - that's something else I'd like to talk about a little here. To me, it sounds like the crunch, the edge of Weezer, has been lost. Songs like Ruling Me abandon the raw distorted crunchy guitars of Pinkerton and the shattering crashes of the cymbols for generic polished digitally recorded rock. Your singing on Hurley was absolutely amazing and heartfelt, but the rest of the album sounded just way too processed. I honestly think recording in analog rather than digital could help get that raw Weezer sound back. The music has simply lost its edge. Again, listen to the bridge in The Good Life. Loud, stomping crashing distortion and melody slowly reveals itself to be a tender, echo-filled composition as the song slows into its melodic climax and back again into its massive chorus. Amazing. In digital recording, a lot of this personality, this life, is lost. It just sounds too good. The emotion is stripped.

For example, the acoustic versions of Can't Stop Partying and I Don't Want Your Loving are both heartfelt, amazing songs that are dripping with emotion. But when they were revisited for the studio, their hooks had been washed over with a dull wave of pop polish. Gone was the soul, replaced by boring oo's and aa's and autotuned hooks. What happened? The B-sides for Pinkerton are another great example. Tracks like You Won't Get With Me Tonight and Longtime Sunshine are just such good songs. They're not chart toppers, they're not awesome hooks, they're not perfectly polished bubblegum pop. They're amazing, amazing songs. They're songs that can really mean something to someone. They're songs that can be played by a campfire with open chords and just sound every bit as good. I'm not saying Weezer hasn't made anything good since Pinkerton, but something is missing. The sincerity, the loud crunch, the emotion, the hard work put into the songs, the intricate compositions and musical experiments like the bridges found on Blue and Pinkerton - they're gone, and not gone as a result of musical evolution, but gone to be replaced with nothing. With hollow rock. With polished, boring guitars. The music just doesn't sing like it used to. The guitars don't screech with soul and then gently bring each other to musical climax through intricate melodies like they used to. It doesn't sound like the inside of your heart anymore. 

I really don't want to be tearing you or the band apart here. The only reason I'm writing this absurdly long post is because I really do care about Weezer and its music so much. I really do love it. It means so much to me, it has done so much for me. And I really believe Rivers has another fantastic album in him. Seeing that Pinkerton show live was absolutely amazing. Even the Greatest Hits set was perfect, the energy was completely there. Why can't we hear it in the albums? Why can't we hear that energy, that passion, that love, in the songs? Not complaining, not b*******, just trying to get your gears turning a little bit. There's a reason why people hold Blue and Pinkerton so close to their hearts, and it's not because they're catchy. Blue and Pinkerton were such cohesive, perfect albums as a whole. The new Weezer albums feel more like a collection of lesser songs. Why is that? They don't feel like cohesive pieces of art. An album should be something that makes its mark. Music is hard. Expectations are hard. It's all very hard. I understand, I'm trying to do it myself. But we, our fans, believe in you. We know you can do it. And even if you don't, we'll be happy anyways. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. We know you can do it.

 

J

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Maybe he's happy instead of dark and moody and is in fact channeling his happines into his music becasue hes happy and it just so happens that lots of partying teenagers around the country like happy music so we buy it and that makes rivers happy instead of dark and depressed so he writes more happy tunes...becasue he's no longer the depressed person he was in 1995 (who wasnt depressed?) and therefor cant put depressed emotional stuff into his music becasue somewhere down the line of marrying an amazing woman, having kids, seeing his band grow to popularity...he stop being depressed. So maybe theres just as much emotion there as there was back in 1990's, its just happy stuff...but of course thats just my opinion.

LONG LIVE THE GREEN ALBUM AND HURLEY

I'm gonna say that it's not a matter of Rivers no longer writing personal, sincere, and emotional lyrics and songs - he's simply writing about things that have might not be personal to you yourself at this age, where as Pinkerton/blue were back when you got into them.

Songs like "Unspoken", "The Other Way", "If You're Wondering If I Want You To", a majority of the red album, etc. etc. etc. (I could go on and on) are just as personal and sincere as anything coming from the first two albums. They were written about very specific events or thoughts or ideas in the guy's life and, in some cases, goes so deep that you have to wonder how he had the balls to release such a song to the public. What more do you want?

I think it's absolutely important to be critical but you also have to know when and where to stop. Back in '05 I surely tore into "Beverly Hills" or "My Best Friend" when posting on an older Weezer board. I likely said they was too mainstream, too polished, I couldn't relate to the lyrics, etc. etc. etc.

One day, though, I realized that I was still listening to these songs just as much as the rest of the album and, despite the front I put up about hating them, I knew every word. Knew the songs front to back. That was kind of a waking up experience, to me.

I remained pretty critical up until a while back, realizing again that despite the front I put up about hating Raditude, I still enjoyed the hell out of it. It sounded nothing like what they've done before, it flirted heavily with mainstream pop throughout the majority of the disc, but did it matter much to my enjoyment of the album? Not at all. That was kind of "it" for me - from there, I welcomed "Represent", Hurley, Death to False Metal etc. with open arms and found that there's still so much to love about this band.

The same is true for any Weezer record, really. I've learned to just enjoy what I enjoy and not pick it apart and to appreciate things for what they are rather than just resenting them for what they're not. The same can be said for many things in life, and I think the more I let that go, the happier I am as a person. Not to hand out life advice here, but I'm just sayin' - it applies to Weezer as much as it applies to anything.

Again, I do think it's absolutely important to be critical, both as a fan and as a writer. Yes, there are things about the last few records that, despite being really good, could have been a bit better. Yet, personally in my own past, I think it created this blind spot of sorts and I took it too far. I don't think I'd be alone there if people only chilled out a little and just realized that, despite their claims that the band jumped the shark a decade ago and they're done with them, they're still posting on a Weezer fan board for some reason. I don't think anyone out there is realistically holding out for Pinkerton II, so there has to be some kind of reason why you're still around.

Just re-read and saw the comment about digital versus analog recording, a very, very tired argument, in my eyes. Not attacking you, just saying - there are plenty of albums out there recorded digitally that sound damn good and still have a very "warm" sound (as they say) or even have a more "raw" sound. There are so many misconceptions out there about digital recording, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with it.

Either way, if you're not into Weezer these days, I don't think them recording in an older format will somehow make them suddenly appeal to you.

Also...

"I remember after listening to Blue and Pinkerton (but before listening to any other Weezer) how excited I was to hear the fragile, emotional and yet musically powerful Rivers Cuomo's tunes about getting old. About his balding. About his regrets, his doubts, his fears. His qualms with his ever-impending mortality. The fearful and insecure regrets of all the possible lives he could of lived, options now far gone. Your life may be happier now, but surely it can't be without pain, without regret, without suffering. I was excited to hear that through the music, to be able to connect with you and the music on that level."

You've summed up the red album to a T, here, as well as several other tracks. Again, I think Mr.Cuomo is being very sincere, passionate, personal, etc. etc. etc. but maybe it's just being passionate or sincere about something you can't relate to. Think ab00t it.

I'm sorry, but I disagree. I don't think it's nearly as personal anymore. I have listened to the songs. Even Unspoken, one of the examples you claimed... it's just generic. It seems like he wants to write something personal but distances himself from it. "I'll never forgive you can't you see, our life will be broken, our hate will be unspoken" Maybe it was written from personal experience, but it sounds generic - that's something you don't understand about what I'm saying about the sincerity of these records. They're about real emotions, sure. ABOUT real emotions. Weezer's music used to BE emotion. "How stupid is it, that I can't talk about it, I've gotta sing about it, and write a record of my heart" - this pretty much sums up what I'm talking about.

It's not just lyrically though. Pork and Beans is in my opinion one of the better recent Weezer tunes, it doesn't seem generic, it's sincere, pissed off and isn't afraid to point out specific examples of what he's talking about (rogaine, timbaland). Even musically, that was a great song. But people who keep making this argument really don't seem to understand it. Listen to Only In Dreams. Please just listen to it. Listen to the parts with no lyrics, that's right - no lyrics at all. What sounds more emotional, more sincere, more personal, more powerful? That, or something like The Girl Got Hot, Where's My Sex, or even If You're Wondering.

And again, I don't think being happy has anything to do with it. If you read the post, I said something along the lines of there is always pain, suffering and struggle in life and Rivers used to channel that through his music - it just doesn't sound like he does anymore. He sounds removed. It almost seems like he ventured into an extremely personal and intimate place with Pinkerton, was burned and trashed and embarrassed for it, and ever since has been emotionally detached from his music to a certain extent - at least moreso than he used to be.

 

I am curious if Rivers has even looked at this topic, much less read it. I wouldn't expect him to reply to such direct criticisms anyway, he doesn't need to. But I hope he's seen it at least.

^

I think its still plenty personal. Can no one but me seriously listen to red album and not hear rivers goin through his mid-life crisis in that album? And who gives a crap if it sounds like its not a personal song from rivers point of view, theres still plent of songs that are personal to me and thats the point of music, is to find your own purpouse in the song, and darn it weezers music is still very personal and powerul to me so dont go and say that their music has lost that personal touch. Trainwrecks, hang on, The angel and the one, perfect situation, keep fishin, all of the green album

Have to disagree with you on that one. The first time I heard Unspoken, I felt like Rivers must have been spying on my marriage with a listening device for a week before he wrote it. Maybe I've interpreted it in my own way, I don't know, but it knocked me right over like a ton of bricks from the first listen. It's my favorite on Hurley for that reason.

Jeremy said:

I'm sorry, but I disagree. I don't think it's nearly as personal anymore. I have listened to the songs. Even Unspoken, one of the examples you claimed... it's just generic. It seems like he wants to write something personal but distances himself from it. "I'll never forgive you can't you see, our life will be broken, our hate will be unspoken" Maybe it was written from personal experience, but it sounds generic - that's something you don't understand about what I'm saying about the sincerity of these records.

I do see what you mean, but read the rest of the post! It's not just the lyrics!
Lets hear what Rivers has to say!

Wilford Brimley 88 said:
BUMP
If Rivers just picked up the guitar a little more and got lessons from Steve Lukather, Weezer would be one hell of a rockin' band
Yeah, I'd really like to know what Rivers has to say to this... but it'd really surprise me if he responded here
@America. You get it! Thank God.
You lost my attention when you said you weren't a hipster was what I was originally going to say but then I read on. Not sure how their music has grown more commercially expectable... probably because it hasn't. Now if you're referring to Rivers doing collaborations with Lil Wayne and B. o. B I can understand that, but either way Rivers is expressing himself the way he wants to.

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