With the release of Weezer's latest album Everything Will Be Alright In The End, I decided to take a moment to reflect upon what an important role the band Weezer, and more specifically their debut Blue Album, has played in my musical landscape for the past 20 years.
Throughout the years Rivers Cuomo and Co. have produced some of the most prolific, energetic, garage, pop, rock tunes that simultaneously wear a heart on the sleeve, while giving you a burning desire to pick up a Fender, stomp on a Distortion Pedal and shred a face melting solo.
My love for Weezer begins under the hum of fluorescent lights, among the rows of plastic cases holding the various CDs in my local record store "Soundtrax." Through the smacks of plastic on plastic I dug my way through the sections alphabetically and eventually landed on "W." Sometimes you don't pick the album, the album picks you.
It was in high school when I was first introduced to the plain blue album cover, clean font and image of four dudes who all looked exactly like the friends in my social circle; casual, relaxed, unaffected. On first listen it instantly felt like home. The quick picking of "My Name is Jonas" that led to the thick, full distorted power-chord decline, made me not only realize "the building's not going as we planned," but that I had successfully found my high school soundtrack.
The years spent in packed halls, smelly gyms and sterile classrooms can be challenging for any teenager. You spend your days dealing with issues of self-doubt, relationships, heartbreak, fleeting confidence, angst and hope. All of these ingredients could be found in the sonic feast of "The Blue Album." What teenage guy didn't want a girl who will laugh for no one else? Try to find me a moody, 16-year-old who hasn't thought to themselves, at one time or another, "the world has turned and left me here." All of these sentiments were expressed with unapologetic sincerity over polished, crunchy, pop chord progressions.
It took no time for this album to become the background soundtrack for our small town house parties. These were the parties you attended because someone in your group borrowed their parents Ford Tempo and you all squeezed into a home that broke fire code capacity four hours ago. These were the parties where everyone wondered whose house you were presently occupying as you huddled in the kitchen surrounded by empty bottles and pizza boxes. These were the parties where Rivers Cuomo's voice could be heard claiming the only place he felt safe and belonged was "in the garage."
These were the parties where you huddled with friends in a hooded-eye, late-night sing along to the chorus of "Say It Ain't So." These were the parties where all the signs aligned. The environment, the bonding, the youthful energy mixed and attached itself to the tunes blasting through the floor speakers in the living room. The songs in turn latched on to these moments and created the greatest gift music can give you-a memory. Theses tracks time stamped your heart and your mind with time and place. You had a feeling that this album was made for your group and your group only.
Although, over the years, I may not have been listening to Weezer with the intensity and regularity of my 16 year old self, their CD's have never left my side. Their tunes are blended into my musical DNA. Road trips and cottage weekends demand the required listening of the Blue Album. Every time that first track was played, I am transported back to a more innocent time. A time of flannel wearing teenagers huddled around backyard bonfires, drinking the cheapest beer someone's older brother could buy them, preparing for a night of endless possibilities.
For its within those 41 minutes and 25 seconds of hooks, riffs, power chords and feedback that hovers over your head like the Northern Lights, that you realize that music bookmarks some pretty special moments in your life. It's a process and experience that enters through your ears, orbits around your mind and settles deep within your heart. Revisiting Weezer's The Blue Album returns you to a time, place and level of happiness that many of us can find "only in dreams."