Weezer’s Pinkerton Still Brings Home The Turkey And The Bacon

Seventeen years ago I was a sophomore in college. On this day back in 1996,  I walked a few miles between classes to the one record store near Seton Hall University to pick up a CD that was coming out that day, Weezer’s Pinkerton.

Once I purchased the only copy of the CD in the store, I walked/ran back to my dorm room, but was only able to listen to the first three songs before my next class began. All I remember about the class was not being able to wait to hear the rest of the album. Pinkerton was so different from the Blue Album (which was by then, my favorite thing to listen to), but not in a bad way.

The sound of Pinkerton was more raw and the lyrics more emotional, which were a bad news/good news thing for the album’s fortunes. The rawness and emotion, combined with the public’s changing musical tastes meant the album didn’t do well commercially. In the year after Pinkerton’s release I was incredulous as songs like One Headlight and The Freshmen were played constantly on the radio, while Pinkerton‘s songs were ignored.

At the same time, fans loved this approach and the public rediscovered the album a few years later after word-of-mouth and file sharing attracted more listeners, leading to the band’s resurgence in 2000.

But by then, it was too late for Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo, who abandoned the approach that made Pinkerton what it was and sought out a more generic way of crafting the perfect pop rock song (this approach, which led to the Green Album, also was responsible band’s fascinating, yet vague (and too minimal) output in 1998). The band has also embraced (or re-embraced) the album, even releasing Pinkerton Deluxe Edition three years ago.  The highlight of this special edition was Tragic Girl, a song originally demoed at the last minute then promptly forgotten.

After my class, I rushed back to my room and listened to the whole of Pinkerton. I realized it was no Blue Album, but that was not a bad thing. It was an amazing, personal, rocking album. And it’s still amazing all these years later.

Weezer in the Rain

I found out something important last week. If concert tickets say ‘Rain or Shine,’ that means the concert will take place outside.

Also, that means there will be rain.

Last Friday, I saw my 12th Weezer concert outside the casino in Cincinnati (the outdoor concert was across the street from the county jail). The Civee graciously accompanied me despite the rain, which started as the opening band (Cincinnati’s Daap Girls) got their set underway. The Daap Girls weren’t the worst Weezer opening band I saw, nor were they the least memorable, so that’s a bonus. Although, the most entertaining part of the Daap Girls set was the dancing of the world’s biggest Daap Girls fan who was standing next to me. The rain let up for a bit before Weezer got started, but ramped back up to torrential levels about four songs in.

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Even with the rain, I enjoyed the show. The set list was along the lines of the greatest hits set they’ve been playing lately (don’t they have a new album they should be working on?) with the addition of No One Else, which was great to hear. They sounded good, and changed up arrangements on some of the songs, including (If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To. Plus, they played No One Else.

Something different about this show- the crowd felt older. A lot of the people around us were talking about their kids. There was a family right in front of us, with two kids who looked to be about eight or nine. Seeing that made me think that I may be able to bring Hope to the next show, although I may not be able to get as close as I did Friday night.

Even though we was soaked by the end of the show (more accurately, soaked after standing there for 10 minutes), it was a fun show. The outdoor area of a casino across the street from a county jail made the location interesting. And while I could have done without the rain, it was certainly a memorable show.

Turning Up The Radio

Since moving to Columbus 13 years ago, I’ve listened to mostly one radio station: CD 102.5. a locally-owned alt rock station.

CD 102.5 (formerly CD 101) has a Guest DJ feature. Send in a playlist, and if they pick it, they’ll let you be on the air for an hour.  Last month, The Civee and I were driving around and heard a promo. The Civee said I should try it, and I admitted I’d thought of it before. Putting together a playlist was actually pretty tough. I had to pick between 12 and 14 songs, mostly comprised of artists they play regularly. And I thought it would be a good idea if I kept it to one Weezer song. After some thought, I sent in a playlist and a few hours later, they scheduled my time on air.

My guest DJ stint was today and it was a blast. I had to cut a few songs, but once the show started, aside from a short intro from DJ Brian Phillips, I did most of the talking. I talked about myself (And The Civee, Hope and Luke) and introduced some of the songs. They also let me cut a weather promo sponsored by The Easy Street Cafe. I put some life into the Easy Street Cafe promo and my coworkers got a kick out of my reading of their catchphrase: “Feta is Beta.” I had a blast and while I’d love to do it again, it’s probably better to let some other people have a shot. 

Besides, it’s pretty tough limiting myself to one Weezer song each hour.

Here’s my playlist:

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists: Biomusicology
Grouplove: Itchin’ on a Photograph
Steve Burns: Mighty Little Man
Weezer: No One Else
INXS: Don’t Change
The 88: Coming Home
The Thermals: St. Rosa and The Swallows
“Weird” Al Yankovic: One More Minute
Ben Kweller: Hospital Bed
William Shatner: Common People
Better Than Ezra: Good

The songs cut for time:
Oasis: Stand By Me
The Pixies: Here Comes Your Man
Temper Trap: Down River

If you have to ask “why?” about any of these songs, the answer is simple: because I like it.

Thumbs vs. Stars

I’ve been into digital music for a long time.

Back in the days before Napster, I remember getting songs from shifty FTP sites and spending a week ripping my CDs to my computer. I’ve also listened to a lot of streaming music, starting when one of the earliest versions of Windows Media Player featured a directory of radio stations with online feeds.

From the early days, my player of choice was WinAmp. I still use it to listen to my music on my computer and phone. Lately, though, I’ve been branching out- to Google Music (to store my music elsewhere and to buy new music) and services like Spotify and Pandora (to discover new music, or to listen to something I may not own). Each service/player has its own peculiarities, but there’s one thing the three streaming programs have in common that sets them apart from WinAmp how users rate songs.

Years back, WinAmp added a feature allowing users to give star ratings to songs. You give five stars to the songs you really like, zero to the ones you hate. Works great, especially if you have a large collection.

Spotify and Pandora opt for the simple thumbs up, thumbs down approach. For the most part, it makes sense if you’re adding new music to a playlist. Give a song or artist enough thumbs down and you’ll never hear it again. But for songs that are already on the playlist, it’s useless. Google Music also uses this approach, which doesn’t make sense. With Google Music, you’re listening to songs you already own. Why would you give a bunch of songs you own (for non-ironic purposes) thumbs down?

I’d much rather (for songs I’ve already said I wanted to listen to) rate a song with the more specific system. If I give a bunch of songs a thumbs up, that means I like them. But I don’t like them all equally.

If I had it my way, every way I listen to music would allow me to rate songs on a 1-100 scale. But that’s why I don’t write software.

Hope’s Favorite Alternative Music Artists

For as long as The Civee and I can remember, Hope has been into music. From our first few days with her, music (not just kids music) has quieted Hope and now that she’s old enough to pay attention, it entertains her.

She has been into Weezer for a while. If a Weezer song comes on while we’re hanging out at home or driving in the car, she will immediately identify it as a Weezer tune (and that includes songs that I don’t play all the time). But now, if we’re listening to the radio and a non-Weezer song plays, she will ask who plays it. For example, the other day Van Halen’s Jump was on. She asked “who plays this?” I replied “Van Halen.” She waited a few seconds, then repeated her question. I repeated my answer, adding “featuring David Lee Roth.” She asked a few more times, with me each time stating Van Halen and adding a few facts about the song. So by the ninth time she asked, I replied “Papa.” “Papa sings this,” Hope said.

So everytime she hears a non-Weezer song she will ask who plays it. She keeps asking until we reply with the name of someone she knows. Her grandmother sings Crazy Train. Her Uncle played Rockit. And her bus driver sang a bunch of 80’s rock tunes.

So if you ever meet Hope and she asks you if you sang The Safety Dance, please just smile and nod politely.