Songs From the Black Hole considered

Sat 2/16/2008

Q: How do you follow a 1,200-word post about Weezer?
A: With another 1,000-word post about Weezer! :D

One of the other really great things about Alone is the EXTENSIVE liner notes that accompany the demos. Rivers really goes in-depth to tell you what the songs are about and what was going on in his life when he wrote them.

And four of the tracks on this new collection are songs from the abandoned Weezer album Songs From the Black Hole, which WOULD have been their second release.

For years, this has been a kind of "holy grail" for Weezer fans. Through various interviews, dispatches from Karl (their archivist, guitar tech, webmaster and the official 5th member of Weezer), old articles from Weezine, and now the Alone liner notes, we have pieced together a bit of information about this lost treasure...

Supposedly, it was going to be a rock opera (with a lot of emphasis on the OPERA element, as Rivers was obsessed with Puccini at the time!) The main characters were Jonas (Rivers), Wuan (Brian), Dondo (Matt), the Mechanoid M1 (Karl!) and the two female characters Maria and Laurel. And the basic plot is that they "Blast Off" (the title of track 1) into space on a voyage together, which was supposed to be a metaphor for becoming famous and heading off into this rock star lifestyle.

All of the tracks bled together, as one continuous song, sort of like the end of Abbey Road. And eventually, some of these tracks surfaced as B-sides, or on the internet. They are REALLY GREAT songs. They've still got that strength from The Blue Album but they start having some of that edge from Pinkerton. In short: more work from the height of Rivers's songwriting ability.

The crazy thing is, I already had about half of this album on my computer for YEARS, without knowing. It wasn't until I found the SFTBH Wikipedia article that I found the official track listing(s). Suddenly, all these weird 45 second weezer demos I had been listening to were revealed as interstitial pieces, connecting songs, filling in story gaps.

I have a playlist now in iTunes of all the songs. I am still missing 5 or 6 tracks, but at 30 minutes, it is still 2 minutes longer than the Green Album and about A TRILLION times more enjoyable.

It's also really interesting to read that perhaps part of the reason the album was scrapped, was because Matt took a lot of the ideas (or the FEEL) from SFTBH and made "Return of the Rentals" (which is ALSO one of my favorite albums). A bit burned, Rivers reworked about half of the songs, added to them, and ended up with Pinkerton.

I just think part of the reason (some) people get so obsessed with Weezer, is that Rivers, really, is just a normal guy. You know, his band explodes onto the scene and he makes a bunch of money, and what does he do? Buy a big house? Lots of cars? The rock and roll lifestyle? No. He 1) gets an operation that he could never previously afford, to extend his left leg 44mm (ouch...) and 2) GOES BACK TO COLLEGE.

And sure, he is "weird." When Pinkerton failed on the charts he supposedly retreated into himself, Matt left the band, he tried to mathematically figure out how to write a good pop song (the green album) then he became obsessed with the business aspect of music, trying to takeover all of his own managing and producing (maladroit). Supposedly, he really made a lot of enemies during that time. But then, while working on Make Believe he started meditating and calmed down a bit and tried to apologize to all these people and seek forgiveness. And the music was a bit better. And now he's married, and the band seems to be getting along better than it has in years...

I don't know! I just think, what would ANY of us do, if suddenly our band was insanely successful? (or book, or play, or whatever!) You know, Weezer wasn't some band where all the guys were friends forever and then they made it big. Rivers grew up in Connecticut, Pat is from Buffalo, Matt grew up in Virginia and Brian didn't even join the band until they started recording The Blue Album! They were just some guys playing in a band together in L.A., and suddenly they are having to spend ALL of their time together, touring the world, playing the same 10 songs together night after night.

When Rivers announced the Alone album, he also said that he's working on a massive book project, which documents (IN GREAT DETAIL) everything that happened to him from 1992 (Weezer's formation) to 1994 (the band becoming super-popular). I think it will be a really amazing document. There are so many people in the world who think they want to be famous. But how do people really deal with it? Would ANY of us be able to handle it any better than Rivers? We all try different things, act crazy, make mistakes, and change our minds, trying to figure out who we are and what we want to do in life. It just must be hard when you are doing it PUBLICLY, with everyone breathing down your neck.

A N Y W A Y S, I'll shut up now, once and for all (well, at least until that 6th Weezer album comes out in a few months! ;) The point is, it's been an interesting journey, these past 16 years with Weezer, and I'm looking forward to whatever they have next!

3 comments on this entry

What a cool post. I've always been fascinated by the "lost" album (like Brian Wilson's Smile and Buddy Holly's Apartment Tapes). I think it speaks to what us music fans secretly believe: the best song in the world could never be released commercially. It would either fail to be a hit and throw the musician into a depression, or it wouldn't live up to our high expectations. Now that musicians seem to have more control over what gets released, we can begin to see a more complete portrait of the artist.

josh Feb16

wow dude...
you've convinced me to go out an buy weezer's first two records, that's for sure...
also, i certainly know what it's like to be obsessed with a band...i've been there many many times and experienced the heartbreak of severely diminished quality in their creative output over time...maybe excessive fame somehow does lead to creative entropy...it happens so often...

jason renzi Feb16

I just wanted to say I love your Weezer posts! That book sounds awesome, I hope it comes into existence eventually! Also I'm very excited to get "Alone" and now I want to get the songs from Songs From the Black Hole, it sounds so awesome! I think the fan-made CD of B-sides and rarities that I had years ago was something else, or maybe it had a few songs on it from that but it's hard to remember since it was borrowed and never returned to me so many years ago.

Return of the Rentals is one of my favorite all-time albums as well.

Liz Feb16

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