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Record Rewind: Weezer’s The Blue Album

by Mark Jacobo

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1994 was not a very long time ago—only 18 years—but I’m such a big fan of Weezer’s self-titled album, commonly referred to as The Blue Album, that I decided it deserved its very own Record Rewind.

Weezer was produced by former Cars frontman Ric Ocasek, and was recorded in Electric Lady Studios, which was originally built by Jimi Hendrix and has acted as a studio for a plethora of artists, such as The Clash, John Lennon, Blondie, Beyonce Knowles, and the Mars Volta. Since it’s release it’s been certified triple-platinum in the US, and double-platinum in Canada.

The line-up for Weezer at the time consisted of Rivers Cuomo on guitar and vocals, Brian Bell on guitar and backing vocals, Matt Sharp on bass and backing vocals, and Patrick Wilson on drums, percussions, and backing vocals.

The Blue Album marked a new era of alternative rock. Released a month after the death of Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain, it was much different than the grunge rock that dominated the current pop culture. The grungy rock days were over, as Weezer opened doors for a whole new style or music.

The album had three singles, the first being “Undone—the Sweater Song”, a quirky song that takes you on a strange existential ride. Cuomo tried to make the song sound like a Velvet Underground composition, but later stated it has more of a Metallica feel to it. On the song’s content, Cuomo has stated,

“’Undone’ is the feeling you get when the train stops and the little guy comes knocking on your door. It was supposed to be a sad song, but everyone thinks it’s hilarious.”

Their second single was “Buddy Holly”, released on what would have been singer Buddy Holly’s 58th birthday. Aside from the famed rocker, the song also references actress Mary Tyler Moore. The video for “Buddy Holly” was directed by Spike Jonze (who directed several other Weezer videos), and shows the band performing at Arnold’s Drive-In diner from the classic television show Happy Days. It’s definitely one of Weezer’s most impressive music videos.

Weezer’s third single was “Say it Ain’t So”, a song inspired by Cuomo believing his mom and stepdad were going to go down the same path as his mother’s previous marriage. Cuomo had always thought his parents divorced because his father was an alcoholic, and when he opened his refrigerator and saw a lone beer, he feared that history would repeat itself. His mother would later tell him that his parents divorced for no such reason, and he had nothing to worry about.

The video for “Say it Ain’t So” wasn’t as zany as Weezer’s previous two. Sophie Muller took on the role as director, in lieu of Spike Jonze. The song still climbed the charts, but the video wasn’t met with as much success as “Undone”, or “Buddy Holly”.

Today, Weezer remains a relatively popular band, but in my honest opinion their current work in no way matches the sublimity that is The Blue Album. Appearing on many “Best-of” lists since its debut (including Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of all time), The Blue Album has become not only the pinnacle of Weezer’s career, but the beginning of a new kind of rock. Instead of imitating grunge or metal, or desperately trying to keep punk rock alive, Weezer was, well, Weezer.          

 

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