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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Don't speak for other fans.  I can hear the emotion you miss.  Listen more...or don't.
And the award for longest post 2010 goes to.... Epic rant sir. Can't wait for the paperback edition...lol  But seriously he's an artist man so let him make his art. Just because he's at a different place in his life doesn't make it any less "real". Just be glad he still likes putting stuff out.

The Bone - I didn't mean to be speaking for anyone else, but I think there are those who would agree with me.

Crackerjack - Maladroit and Red were pretty solid albums but I have a hard time giving any album since Pinkerton the status of "great." I listen to a lot of music, and I mean, I love Rivers and I love Weezer but they're other stuff is good, at best. It would be impossible for me to put a song like "Hang On" as one of the best songs of the decade. I mean, have you listened to music this decade? Modest Mouse, Arcade Fire, The Strokes, Queens of the Stone Age, Radiohead, Gorillaz, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, White Stripes, Outkast, Wilco, Deerhunter, Beck, The Libertines...

Stefan - I understand he's an artist. I never said his music was any less "real" now, I just think that maybe he could work a little harder on it and it shows. There's nothing wrong with criticizing art, especially art I feel so passionate about like Weezer.

I appreciate your well-thought out and well-written opinion, but seriously man...it's music.  You should just listen and enjoy.  Don't read too much into it and/or let it define your life.  I can assure you... I travelled across the country to see both Boston shows and can tell you the passion is still there.  I saw it firsthand.

Once upon a time there was a boy.  The boy went through life's various stages as anyone else.  However, pain from a hard surgery, artistic and sexual frustration all inspired a musical journey through about 5 years and 2 beautiful albums.  After the subsequent success and failure of the two albums, the boy went into seclusion until he came out of it, writing happier, more commercially successful tunes, eventually marrying and achieving happiness creating music, the thing that helped him so much in his childhood, living happily ever after as fans continue to enjoy his dynamic range of style and emotion through his talent.  The end.

-The Rivers Cuomo and Weezer Story

As seen through an unbiased music geek's eye

 

 

Once upon a time there was a band that was great because they were unknown and I felt cool listening to stuff that wasn't popular until then they achieved success and me no likey so I'll throw a hissy fit about a guy doing what he loves, praying he'll go back into depression or something (or, really, for the music to become less mainstream) so I can hear my songs the way I want it as if it was my band and everyone is happy except the artist who has rights.

-The Rivers Cuomo and Weezer Story

As seen from the perspective of Hipster Wannabe F** of the Year

been thinking the same thing actually. as much as i like most of the stuff since pinkerton, it hasn't been "as" good. of course that doesn't mean that it "isn't". As an aspiring musician myself i agree that it shouldn't be about selling records, it should be about making something that you beleive is amazing, beautiful, or just plain cool. making music is a way we can express ourselves. yes, music is an art, however the artist can paint whatever he chooses. So telling rivers to do something particular isn't going to solve your dilema. He will do what he wants, or at least he should. Of course i hope he wants to be more expressive and more artistic. when writing an album the artist has a goal in mind. and lately is seems that rivers' goal has been to write a great pop song. And one can argue, why not, becuase it works and has made him famous and kept him and weezer going. It is clear they can write a good pop song by now though, maybe they will finally feel they have proven that and move on to something else. who knows? I will agree "you wont get with me tonight" is one of their bests and its not like a pop song, and neither is most of or all of pinkerton and even a good portion of blue. So yea it doesn't have to be straight pop, and i prefer it not be, because apart from weezer, i don't like pop at all. i think rivers has something in store for us though, something great, a masterpeice perhaps. Thats what we need a masterpeice. come on rivers give us all you got, lets hear that epic masterpeice! Oh, and i don't think weezer needs to try and be mainstream, i think their finally realizing that, do your own thing, right

i don't think anyone wants him to go back into a dark time, you don't need to be unhappy to create something great, everyone has emotions, whether they are happy, sad, depressed, excited, anxious, or whatever else their feeling

Radioactive said:

Once upon a time there was a boy.  The boy went through life's various stages as anyone else.  However, pain from a hard surgery, artistic and sexual frustration all inspired a musical journey through about 5 years and 2 beautiful albums.  After the subsequent success and failure of the two albums, the boy went into seclusion until he came out of it, writing happier, more commercially successful tunes, eventually marrying and achieving happiness creating music, the thing that helped him so much in his childhood, living happily ever after as fans continue to enjoy his dynamic range of style and emotion through his talent.  The end.

-The Rivers Cuomo and Weezer Story

As seen through an unbiased music geek's eye

 

 

Once upon a time there was a band that was great because they were unknown and I felt cool listening to stuff that wasn't popular until then they achieved success and me no likey so I'll throw a hissy fit about a guy doing what he loves, praying he'll go back into depression or something (or, really, for the music to become less mainstream) so I can hear my songs the way I want it as if it was my band and everyone is happy except the artist who has rights.

-The Rivers Cuomo and Weezer Story

As seen from the perspective of Hipster Wannabe F** of the Year

guys, what's up with some of these responses? did you even read the message? weezer is a band I love and I feel like they've gone downhill, I listed why, and wrote some ways I think they could really improve. what the hell is wrong with that? i'm not saying rivers needs to be depressed for my benefit, i'm not a "hipster wannabe f**". what the hell guys? is this seriously how the weezer community is like nowadays? i thought you would appreciate me thinking this all out and writing it eloquently rather than just being like "GREEN AND ON SUX LOLZ" but i guess not.

 

i never said rivers needs to be unhappy, but everyone feels tremendous pain at all stages of their life. rivers used to channel that through his music, and it had a lot of feeling. now he doesn't channel it through his music anymore and his music seems insincere. there's a lot of talk of weezer is just "trying to write the perfect pop song" but I really don't think they are. they're making mediocre pop rock music. entire albums of it. how about they try to write the perfect rock record? what's so awful about wanting someone you idolize to aim higher, to try harder?

 

EDIT: i'd also like to point out to Radioactive who seems to be trying entirely too hard to fit me and people who share my opinion into a "hipster" stereotype - Weezer was always successful. Pinkerton wasn't a hit, but the Blue Album was huge. Undone, Buddy Holly, Say It Aint So - all chart toppers. No one feels like they're cool for liking non-mainstream music by listening to the Blue Album. Don't be an idiot.

Rivers has been channeling his emotions into his writing.  Just because his emotions or the result isn't what you want or expect, doesn't mean that he's not.  You can see his happiness, confusion, pain, in all kinds of new songs.  Especially Make Believe and Hurley.

 

My point is you didn't think that through.  And don't call me an idiot out of anger.  I was rather respectful for how sick I am of this crap.  And btw, the Blue album and Pinkerton were pseudo indie albums.  Maybe they were signed on by Geffen but the Blue album didn't get much recognition until later.  I believe it sold like 300 copies in its first week or something.   Pinkerton was pretty low-key considering the singles all bombed.

 

Jeremy said:

guys, what's up with some of these responses? did you even read the message? weezer is a band I love and I feel like they've gone downhill, I listed why, and wrote some ways I think they could really improve. what the hell is wrong with that? i'm not saying rivers needs to be depressed for my benefit, i'm not a "hipster wannabe f**". what the hell guys? is this seriously how the weezer community is like nowadays? i thought you would appreciate me thinking this all out and writing it eloquently rather than just being like "GREEN AND ON SUX LOLZ" but i guess not.

 

i never said rivers needs to be unhappy, but everyone feels tremendous pain at all stages of their life. rivers used to channel that through his music, and it had a lot of feeling. now he doesn't channel it through his music anymore and his music seems insincere. there's a lot of talk of weezer is just "trying to write the perfect pop song" but I really don't think they are. they're making mediocre pop rock music. entire albums of it. how about they try to write the perfect rock record? what's so awful about wanting someone you idolize to aim higher, to try harder?

 

EDIT: i'd also like to point out to Radioactive who seems to be trying entirely too hard to fit me and people who share my opinion into a "hipster" stereotype - Weezer was always successful. Pinkerton wasn't a hit, but the Blue Album was huge. Undone, Buddy Holly, Say It Aint So - all chart toppers. No one feels like they're cool for liking non-mainstream music by listening to the Blue Album. Don't be an idiot.

What he said!

Rivers is 19 years older than he was when Weezer was forming. That's a lot of time for changing in ones life. Also a lot of change in music and business. You worry about him calling music a business... you can't really expect one to have the same views almost 15 years later, can you?

I love their new stuff and their old stuff. I think the concert I'm attending next week is going to be so awesome because I get to hear ALL of my favorite songs!! 

 

Stefan P'Pool JR said:

And the award for longest post 2010 goes to.... Epic rant sir. Can't wait for the paperback edition...lol  But seriously he's an artist man so let him make his art. Just because he's at a different place in his life doesn't make it any less "real". Just be glad he still likes putting stuff out.
Well done Jeremy, at least someone had the guts to spit it out. Thank you.
After the extremities Rivers went to in the late 90's so that he could purge himself of all the things that made him great I truly believed he had accomplished what he had set out to do. After Make Believe, I thought he had shed the unique genius behind the wayfarers forever. But then I heard Pig, The Angel and the One, The Spider and Miss Sweeney in 2008, I heard greatness, I heard the Rivers of yore screaming out to us: "hey guys, listen, I still have it in me". No longer did I see Rivers as a shadow of his former self, a man capable of only writing pop hooks that shone on the surface but lacked both compositional depth and lyrical depth. Against all odds, Rivers proved to us all that he can still accomplish (90s worthy, in my opinion) great things.

I think Rivers has hinted that the next album is going to be beyond a standard 10 track affair and he's going to take a little time to make sure it is perfected. I'm beyond stoked, I just really, really hope I'm not setting myself up for disappointment. I wasn't one of those who listened to the Pig demo when it leaked, so I have never really experienced that crushing feeling of thinking that magic is being recorded and then an album filled with songs like Everybody Get Dangerous, Heart Songs and Cold Dark World being thrown our way.

Great post Jeremy by the way, it was very well articulated and I do agree with most of your points.

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