Weezer’s The Organ Player: What Rivers Was Saying All Along

When Weezer was making their fourth album Maladroit, Rivers Cuomo dropped a bad habit: he started writing songs that meant something again.

In response to the reaction to Pinkerton, Rivers decided to write songs without any personal meaning. It was a phase that lasted for a few years. And when Weezer had commercial success with the Green Album in 2001, it justified where Rivers’ head was at. But while a large number of fans liked Green, they also wanted songs with some personal meaning. So when Rivers was writing the songs for Maladroit (and songs for post-Maladroit albums written before Maladroit was even made), he started writing real again.

Some of these songs, like Private Message or 367 were literally about what was going on in Rivers’ (very online) life.

Other songs were metaphorical. Prodigy Lover and Mo Beats were about lawsuits facing the band and the ex-members that instigated them. And then there was the Organ Player.

The Organ Player is a laid-back song about a man performing music in public. He’s heckled by a bitter young man:

He can’t accept what the other ones can
That the song is greater than him
Spreading venom in the crowd
Laughing high horses are loud

The organ player keeps playing:

He won’t be swayed from the right melody
Because he knows its beauty

Things get worse when the bitter young man keeps at it:

He’s got to take on the source of his pain
At the cost of righteous thinking

Casting necromancer spells
Summoning demons from hell

But the organ player keeps playing. And the song gets better.

A perfect tune doesn’t need a disguise.

By the end of the song, the bitter young man is defeated and the organ player presumably goes off to make more music. It’s an interesting story, but it’s very autobiographical.

Rivers first wrote The Organ Player in June of 2002. The earliest demo of it was a relationship song recorded while he was in Korea for the World Cup. But sometime between then and when Weezer recorded it in early July, it took on the story.

At the time, Rivers frequented a few Weezer message boards. Both the official board on Weezer.com and a fan-run board called the Rivers Correspondence Board. As he said back then, Rivers lived a life where he was in a different city every day. Having an online community gave him stability. Although, as someone who was on both at the time, the RCB was definitely not a source of stability.

Rivers with a bunch of fans, July 2002, Columbus, Ohio.

It seemed a prerequisite for most RCB members was to be the prototypical bitter young man. There was a very anti-Green, anti-Maladroit sentiment. People wanted songs that came from real experiences. Songs that evolved. And despite derision about his newest material, Rivers remained steadfast in his belief that he was on the right path. He was confident that his new approach would lead to even more success for the band. As he posted on the RCB in the spring of 2002:

here’s something you have to understand: “classic” weezer is going to be buried by a far more popular “new” style over the next few years. those 20 songs that you guys are so attached to are going to mean nothing to the millions and millions of new fans that are coming in.

What’s more, Rivers knew that he needed to get through this phase and use it to build what was next:

5 might contain:
from pink: emotional inspiration
from green: strophic form; 2.5 min. songs
from mala: natural playing, singing, and creative input from all 4 of us.

of course, i could be wrong.

Looking back on things now, he was right.

Throughout Weezer’s career, it’s been the case where each album was a departure from what came before it. And Rivers has grown with each phase.

Back in 2002, I don’t think anyone expected Weezer’s career would last another 20 plus years. Or that some of their best albums would be in the future. But that’s what happened. Weezer’s biggest commercial successes happened after 2002.

At the time, fans wanted a return to the band’s earliest years. Maybe because we didn’t know what was to come. I won’t be silly and say Rivers knew the future. But with the Organ Player, he was telling us he was sticking with the right melody. And things worked out fine.

Tracking the Flood, Part XXXII

751whistle circle o’ 5ths
752I’ll Love You Every Day 8 @68
753Kinda Bluesy
754superstar_chorus_@162 1
75508 There is No Other One
756Work 5-29-2013 12h59m37s
75719 trampoline
758It Feels Like Summer 2 @160
760Why Am I Getting So Upset 3
761Let’s Go To The 33rd Dimension – v9
762Wagamama – 2013-2-8-13 sketch 1
763Prodigy Lover
764The Tower Of Babel – v7
765tense desperate piano 3
766Well It’s A New Day – 2
767Anonymous – v18
768Love Canopy – v1
769I Want To Take You Home Tonight – Edi 3
770The Gift Of Gab – v4
771I’ll Think About You – Don Slacks
772Your Room
7731-5-4 @77I_want_down_time_2015_2_23_17_23_
774troublemaker feel and low bridge
775Love Me – v4

Tracking the Flood, Part XXXI

726The Good News Channel – v4
72713 My mommy said children ought to g
728Narcissus Blooming 3
729work 3-12-2013 18h37m55s
73020 Spinal Jam
73202 tapping song
733ideas 11-7-2011 12h20m54s
734Everybody Wants A Chance To Feel All Alone – 2004-02-20
73619 too many thoughts in my head, now
737Sandy pants @143
738Codependent – v9
739QB Blitz 6 soft @98
740Cleopatra – v7
741Untitled11 1
742My Place – 2013-10-28 acoustic sketch 1
743Second Best Hugger in the World – 2013-2-14 sketch 3
744I Got Everything That I Need – v3 sketch
745Garbage Can
747Weapons Expert
748Real Life Friend – 2012-6-23 rough acoustic sketch 2
749Bone On Bone – 2013-2-28 sketch 4
750The British Are Coming – v23 No B

Tracking the Flood, Part XXX

701Up In The   Clouds 32
702High Hopes –   v14
70320 The Key   of E_ The Key of Bb
704work   3-12-2013 18h44m40s
705I Need Some   Touch
70603 It Holds   Me Together
707The Rules Of   Life – v35 Adolf
708What Is This   I Find – SFTBH
709The Rules Of   Life – v39 2
710Don’t Go   Hulk 1 @ 120
711The British   Are Coming – v41 Son Of Liberty
712Work   12-2-2013 14h15m45s
714I vi    I64 IV ideas 10-5-201
715what am i   gonna do
716Posessed,   Obsessed
71760 punky   riff
718Over The   Mountain (Slower And Dist Verse) – 2004-04-23
719looking for   a fight 2011
720The   Purification of Water – Monterey Jack
721Unknown Song   C – 2012-11-5 1
722Spirit   Animal
723Don’t Show   Us Your Body – v4

SZNZ Come and SZNZ Go, Weezer Rocks More Than Ever

Not even two years ago, Rivers Cuomo shared his plan for Weezer’s 2022.

Rivers wanted to release four albums (or EPs) in a year. Each coming out the first day of a season, with each record having a certain tone, feel and theme. Inspired by Vivaldi, the songs would (loosely) tell the stories of two angels who go to Earth for vacation and don’t go back to heaven.

Here we are, on the first day of winter 2022 and Weezer has done it. There were some stumbling blocks and things along the way that didn’t happen (a Broadway show and a Wrecking Crew-like group of backing magicians). But with the help of project producers Suzy Shinn, Jake Sinclair, the individual record producers and other musicians, engineers and technicians, Weezer has released four albums this year. That’s pretty incredible.

Even more incredible, and I don’t say this lightly, but overall, taking all four records into consideration, SZNZ is Weezer’s best album yet. I said a few months ago and stand by the fact that Weezer is making some of their best music ever. I’m not saying SZNS is perfect. There are weaknesses. Production quality varies from album to album. Because they’re EPs, each album is short. At times, you feel like there’s not enough variety or flavor on an album. But SZNZ overcomes this.

As a whole, there’s variation in SZNZ. Weezer explores different musical styles. There are songs that sound like Yacht Rock and songs that would sound like they belong on a Christmas-themed playlist. Rivers incorporates Vivaldi and other classical themes throughout the songs. These songs are clearly about something and mean something to Rivers. Most importantly, the songs are catchy with great melodies and dynamic structures.

These songs don’t replace any of Weezer’s earlier work. I’m still as big a fan of Buddy Holly, The Good Life and all their other early (and mid career) songs as I ever was. But the songs Weezer has made in these last few years stand right up there with those early favorites. In terms of songwriting and composition, this (SZNZ and OK Human from last year) material goes back to and builds on Weezer’s early albums. Rivers isn’t writing songs where the final chorus sounds cut-and-pasted from the first. These songs evolve. He’s not afraid of tempo/chord changes or even taking a song in a whole new direction. Those were things he stopped doing after the world’s reaction to Pinkerton. And he’s returned to it here and there in his songwriting since. But here he is, embracing those tactics and making the music better with them.

Twenty-one years ago, when Weezer returned from their first big hiatus with the Green Album, I was pumped that Weezer was back. I loved the album, even if it wasn’t exactly the kind of music I wanted. At the time I (and everyone else) didn’t have a clue how long Weezer’s career would be. But since then, they’ve put out more incredible music (or mostly incredible) of all different styles. They’ve had hits and misses. And they’ve grown.

Rivers has already started talking about Weezer’s next album (here’s a hint: it’s time for another color album). And some are talking about what they’d like it to sound like. As for me, I’m fine with whatever they want to do.

Tracking the Flood, part xxix

67617 These   Things That You Do
678Cleopatra –   v19
679tearing me   apart piano 6_8
680I Don’t Feel   Enough 2
681Everybody   Waits
682I’ll Love   You Every Day – 2015-3-27 acoustic sketch
683Turn Me   Around (Take 1)
684Loveable   Loser 2 @100
685o holy night   PW demo
68605 verse
688You Test The   Water
689Ain’t Got   Nobody – v24
690No Bars – v3
691Weezer Feel
692One Second   of Weez – sketch
693The Rules Of   Life – v27
694Pretty Great   Piano Melody
69514 clean   riff development_ _ I _i
696Sweetest One   Of All – 2004-02-13
697Turn It Down
698Steamroller   Action
699you and me   together piano
700In Your Arms

Tracking the flood, part xxviii

651332.1 riff
652Bells In My   Head – v2 weezered
65308 Close   Your Eyes and Give Me a Kiss
654Cleopatra –   v10
655Special   (Diamond Rings, All My Life I Knew That)
657Ain’t Got   Nobody – v7
658Work   3-23-2013 5h31m37s
659Blues Riff
660It’s Been So   Long – 2013-12-2 sketch 2 dup2
662Second Best   Hugger In The World – v1
663Return To   Ithaca – v2
664Cleopatra –   v9
665Why Bother –   Don Slacks
666僕らの未来   Instrumental
667Everybody   Needs Salvation – v14
66978 Ol   Backwater
670Broken   Man 2 @ 92
67114 amazing   contrary motion in 3_4
672St. George –   2012-10-23 alt verse idea
673Yahoo (No   Drums) – 2004-02-20
674Simple   Fisherman – 2004-01-09
675Bless The   Whole Wide World – v10

Tracking the Flood, Part XXVI

626Sports Team 4
627Children’s_Album 9-1-2011 8h18m45s
628I6 IV V piano
629The British Are Coming – v50
631Where Do All The Kids Hang Out 5 in B @85
632I’ll Love You Every Day 9 verses
633There Is No Try – 2012-11-13 3
634Start Up – 2012-11-16 brief acoustic clip 1
635Awaken Early – v2 @118 melody
636Bad Girl (with overdubs)
637She’s Just A Girl – acoustic sketch verse check 3
638The British Are Coming – v14
639Say You Will
640Take It Easy (No Intro, Low Verse, Na Na Chorus) – 2004-05-18
64111 silvertone blues riff
642Best Coast Bethany Ideas 4
643Hippies – 2013-2-13 sketch 1
644Ideas 4-8-2013 9h25m14s
646TKX-(between 69-70) Little Girls Don
647shangri la LOVE BEING ME 2
648Organ Rave A120
649Little Do They Know 2 piano @88 -5
650President of The United States

Tracking the Flood, Part XXV

601Ideas   7-15-2013 16h16m24s
602Broken Phone   – 2002-10-08
603I Am An   Indian – v2
604Change The   World
60507 I don’t   wanna let you go.vso.3sho
606Egos – 2003   Demos
607Our Heaven’s   Son – 2
608Don’t Bring   Me Down
60912 Tired of   Sex
610Sixth Xmas
611About Last   Night 1 @62
614Get Me On   The Line
615Since You   Came Around 14
616Why Am I   Getting So Upset 8 og
617ideas   11-7-2011 12h20m54s
618The Rules Of   Life – v16
619The British   Are Coming – v36
620Ain’t Got   Nobody – v3
621Work   10-26-2012 15h19m32s
622I’ll Be With   Someone Else – v2
623Saturday   Night – 2013-7-22 sketch 6
624Her Name Is   Kaylee 2 @119
625First Riff

Tracking the Flood, Part XXIV

576Drama Queen   – 2003 Demos
577Heart Of   Hearts 8 @129 vocals
57801 Peter No   No No No No – Samples an
579Evil Eye
580Hideaway –   2013-6-5 sketch 6
581I Admire You   So Much
582This Is My   Home 2002-10-06
583Good Times   1998-03
584Wagamama –   2013-2-13-13 sketch 3
586I V    ii vi fat mouth groove
587Ideas   2-27-2013 16h7m23s
588Perfect 5Ths   Aku 2012-05-31_10-38
589VI V    i VII
590So You Sense   It’s a Sad Situation
5911998 Riff 5   (Heavy Metal)
592Here Comes   The Rain 16 impossible @112 +5
593_b2 5 1   piano 2012-05-03_08-41
594Up In The   Clouds – v29
595Something’s   Missing 3
596Cold and   Damp (edit 2 reinsert solo
598toby gad   idea 1