Everything Must Change

Sun 9/19/2010

I've been listening to the new Weezer album Hurley A LOT. It's really great. I think it's my third favorite Weezer album ever (current order of preference: Blue, Pink, Hurley, Red, Rad, Make Believe, Green, Maladroit). As with the release of any new Weezer album, there have been a spate of reviews, interviews and fan reactions. On the whole, I would say people are really into this album, except for the usual naysayers, who are living in the past.

One such example is this review from Pitchfork, which I only found out about when Rivers linked to it in a tweet with a spelling correction (HA HA!) You can spot a poorly written Weezer album review very easily. In the first paragraph the reviewer will mention The Blue Album and Pinkerton, and how the current album is not like these two albums, and then they will continually bitch and moan about this fact for the rest of the review. Mind you, this is the same idiot, who, if all subsequent Weezer albums HAD sounded like Blue and Pink would write a review saying "Ugh! Every Weezer album always sounds exactly the same!" All I can say to these people is "LIVE IN THE NOW."

I do understand where these people are coming from. Look at my list above, I still value the old albums more than the new ones, I still think the songs were stronger and more meaningful, but my love of the old albums doesn't pollute my love of the new albums.

I just feel like people bring so much BAGGAGE with them to a new Weezer album. Honestly, if the exact same album came out, but had been performed by a different band, people would still buy it and still totally enjoy it. It might not be an earth-shattering, once-in-a-lifetime album that would change your life forever, but it's still better than 99% of the rock being made today. This is how I try to think of each new Weezer album.

It's really similar to how I feel about Star Wars. People brought so much baggage to the prequels. Like, "it wasn't the EXACT same thing that I remember, so I hate it!" Huh?! People had 16+ years of love and affection for those movies. They had built them up in their minds as the greatest movies ever made. And if you try to point out that Mark Hamill's acting in Episodes IV - VI is every bit as bad as Hayden Christensen's in Episodes II and III, people freak out. People HATED the prequels, but I would argue, they are still about 99% better than most sci-fi fantasy movies that come out these days. They are still extremely enjoyable for me to watch.

And really, all those years of loving the "original" content from these creators, just enriches my love of the new content. I understand that the new stuff might not be as good as the old, but it still gives me a thrill to see a lightsaber ignite, or to hear Rivers sing a new song.

John Lennon dealt with this problem in a very direct, straightforward manner, on his self-titled "Plastic Ono Band" album. The last Beatles album, Abbey Road, had been an extremely elaborate affair, with tons of multitracking, strings, dozens of instruments and elaborate harmonies. So imagine the surprise of Beatles fans everywhere, when Lennon's first solo album hit the streets in 1970 and it was the complete opposite. Three musicians (Lennon, Ringo on drums and Klaus Voormann on bass), no multitracking, no harmonies, no effects, no nothing. I can't imagine what this must have sounded like to people back in 1970, but I'm sure it wasn't what they were expecting.

On the last track, "God," Lennon starts listing everything he doesn't believe in: Magic, I Ching, the Bible, Tarot, Hitler, Jesus, Kennedy, Buddha, Mantra, Gita, Yoga, Kings, Elvis, Zimmerman, and THE BEATLES.

This last proclamation is followed by three full seconds of silence. Whenever I hear this line, I imagine the die-hard Beatles fan in 1970 hearing it for the first time. The kid who bought the record the DAY it came out and rushed home to listen to the whole thing, all the way through, and was hoping it would be as epic as a Beatles album. Hearing that line must have been like getting punched right in the GUT. And the rest of the lyrics for that song lay Lennon's future plans right there on the line for everyone to see.

I just believe in me. Yoko and me. And that's reality. The dream is over. What can I say? The dream is over. Yesterday. I was the dreamweaver, but now I'm reborn. I was the walrus, but now I'm John. And so dear friends, you'll just have to carry on. The dream is over.

I wish ALL bands had moments like these, where they said to their fans, "Hey! Listen, I'm a real person, and my life is changing all the time. I'm probably never going to make music just the way I am making it right now, because EVERYTHING MUST CHANGE." (coincidently, those last three words are a lyric from the new Weezer album, just so you know!)

I know this will hold true for me. I will never draw anything like Basewood ever again. I'll never draw that big again, I'll never put that much detail and crosshatching and texture into my drawings. I will probably (hopefully) never tell such a depressing story again. I have changed so much since I began that story. I have learned so much, I have become a happier person. I'm sure some people will not like my new style of drawing (which I am already working on) and there will be people who ask me, "Why don't you draw like you used to, in Basewood?" and all I will be able to say to these people is "LIVE IN THE NOW."

Weezer has always tried new things with every album. Hell, even their FIRST TWO albums, which people love to group together, were nothing alike! And I'll admit, some things have worked better than others over the years, but I admire them for being ruthlessly creative, and not just getting locked into some formula. I've said it a bunch of times, but I'll say it again: it's great to see how HAPPY Rivers and the rest of the band are these days, compared to how they used to be. And if that means they'll keep making music for many more years to come, then I say it's worth it. Every song might not change my life, but it's worth it for those great moments where it all comes together, and their worst song still sounds better to me than 99% of the music that's being made these days!

4 comments on this entry

Plastic Ono band is my favorite Lennon album. Beautiful, raw, it's sometimes hard for me to listen to. (And I wonder why he went the other way so quickly, back with Phil Spector and his Wall of Sound. But that's another discussion.) I haven't heard Hurley but I'm glad you're sticking up for bands that change. There's no sense repeating yourself, and it must be doubly hard if your first album was so darn successful.

josh Sep21

I must admit I am one of those grumpy naysayers who are stuck in the Weezer past. I've enjoyed a number of their new songs, but on the whole, as a fan, I guess I jumped ship after Green. I appreciate your comments tho Alec because I think you're right; I think people like me are most definitely curmudgeons about their art, but I'm also okay with that. I do like that Rivers seems to be happy these days. Which leads me to wonder... can exceptional art come from a mind that is not hauntingly depressed, or angry, or confused, or lonely? Based on all the anecdotal evidence in my life, I am beginning to wonder if great music, great art in general, is achievable by a mind at ease. Whatever that urge to make art is, I suspect, is fueled by strong emotions. And I think that BAD feelings are a stronger engine than GOOD feelings.

josh_kg Sep21

Yeah Josh_kg, I have wondered about that too. It's like, if Rivers had kept writing from such a tortured, unhappy place, he might have ended up like Elliott Smith! :( I'll take the slightly-less intense songs if there will be more of them, and we can just all be thankful that we got a Pinkerton out of him, without losing him!

Alec Sep22

Oh man, Alec. I totally agree with you about Plastic Ono Band. It's just John Lennon being like "The Beatles are OVER. This is it now." It's a really emotionally charged album.

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