That’s how long it’s been since Weezer released their first album, the self-titled, Weezer, that many have come to call The Blue Album. It’s hard to believe that after 20 years, radio stations everywhere still pay tribute to this legendary album, and it seems like I still hear “Say It Ain’t So” at least once a month (but it never gets old). In a new series titled, “Retrospective,” we will be taking a look at some of the most influential albums in recent decades that have helped to shape the music of today. Since Weezer will be coming to St. Augustine on June 6, I thought this would be a good place to start.
I can vaguely remember the first time I heard “Undone,” or “The Sweater Song” as many call it. It was one of those moments where you think to yourself, “Holy sh*t. Who is this band, and where can I find more of their music?” The slow drum intro, that twangy guitar riff, and the big finish reminiscent of something the Pixies would do, one listen, and I was hooked. If Cuomo made thick-rimmed glasses cool with “Buddy Holly,” “Undone” made knit sweaters the new fashion trend.
Since then, The Blue Album has sold nearly 3.5 million albums and is certified triple-platinum in the US and double-platinum in Canada. Despite the current success of The Blue Album, which many would even say ranks among the best rock albums of all time, Weezer spent several years playing around LA with barely anyone taking notice of them. In an interview with Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo, he said, “I remember just being totally shocked at how little people responded to us, because I thought we were so good. I mean, we were playing the same songs that eventually became big hits, like ‘The Sweater Song’ and ‘Say It Ain’t So,’ and we’d play ’em out in the L.A. clubs would just be like, ‘Go away. We want a grunge band.'”
Go away. We want a grunge band.
During the production of the album, producer Ric Ocasek of The Cars said that Cuomo laid down all ten tracks in one day, each in just one take. Originally, there were 15 tracks total, but four of them were cut from the record. “Lullaby for Wayne”, “I Swear It’s True”, “Getting Up and Leaving”, and “Mykel and Carli,” which would later become a popular song, were all cut from The Blue Album. The ten tracks that did make the cut are pure gold. You’d be hard pressed to find even one to call a throwaway.
I think what really set apart Weezer’s own brand of power pop is that Weezer was essentially just real-life experiences of Cuomo. Heartbreaks, alcoholism, jealousy, and former girlfriends are things many can relate to. The result is something that translated well at the time, but continues to be significant even now. Don’t believe me? Sit down and listen to the album again from start to finish. Geek-rock, nerd-pop, call it what you will … The Blue Album will be an album I cherish for many years to come, and it certainly deserves a place among the most influential albums in the history of rock.
Will Weezer and Cuomo ever return to their former glory? Only In Dreams … let’s just Make Believe it ended after Pinkerton. Ok, enough puns. Listen to some of Weezer’s Blue Album below via Soundcloud.