So today Weezer’s “Blue Album” is twenty years old. I cannot let any of the anniversaries of my personal cultural touchstones go unremarked. This is one of the advantages of making it to fortysomething. You get to do this shit and not give a good god damn if anyone cares or not. Hooray for age-related apathy!
I wish I could remember how the Blue Album came into my life. It wasn’t there one minute and the next it was everywhere all the time and I couldn’t stop singing “Undone (The Sweater Song).” We often did duets of “Buddy Holly” in The Spectator office. I spent an entire spring masturbating furtively in my tiny room on the other side of the house from my roommates while listening to “Only in Dreams” through the headphones of a Walkman.
Incidentally, and wholly off topic, that room was also next to the driveway of the house next door, which was home to a few guys from a local band and a bunch of theatre majors. In the spring when the breezes blew through open windows the guys would sing 70s one-hit-wonders in the driveway. I have fond memories of falling asleep to young men singing “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl).”
While I can’t remember how it landed in my life, I do know that once it did, it stuck and has for twenty years. Right in the same spot. Forever the sound of what it was to be 22 in 1994: super fun (“My Name is Jonas”); kinda dumb (“Undone (The Sweater Song)”); and don’t forget lonely, alienated, and misunderstood (“In the Garage”)
Not that we even gave it that much thought. Weezer wasn’t about thought. It was just dumb fun. A welcome relief to all the angry angst of grunge, which I spent a few years trying to love, and aside from Pearl Jam, failing at it. Weezer was a much-welcomed change of pace. There was a bittersweetness to the angst and that appealed to me in a big, big way It sounded to me like so much of the pop music I grew up on, but with an edge, a sort of compulsion I never found in any of the Top-40 of my childhood.
Most of my life I’ve been the very last person on the bandwagon. I’ve never been a trendsetter. Hell, I didn’t even discover my very favorite band until three or four years after they broke up. However, through some quirk of luck or love or foggy memory, I caught onto Weezer pretty early. Even before the famous “Buddy Holly” video.
Back in 1994 my friend Goetz used to quiz me incessantly about why I liked “Undone” so much. It mystified him, though eventually he was won over. Probably because I played the album about 921,186 times in the newspaper. We used to have arguments about the best Weezer song (honestly, we used to have arguments about every damn thing on the planet). He was for “Susanne” off of DGC Rarities. I was all in for “My name is Jonas.”
Aside from being the anti-trendsetter I was also a late bloomer, at least personality wise. I got tits right on time like many girls, and was traumatized by it right on schedule. Someday I should tell you about the summer I was 12 with my new boobs and being continually hit on by men. Not boys, actual men, because they assumed boobs + 6-feet tall = totally legal.
That has nothing to do with Weezer. What I wanted to say about Weezer and why the album makes me feel sentimental and nostalgic, is that I discovered Weezer at about the same time I started to come into my personality. It took a few years of living outside the emotional tinderbox that was my family to start to stake claims on what I did or did not like regardless of what others thought.
Weezer was one of those claims. Even though everything after “Pinkerton” is totally forgettable, I don’t regret planting that pro-Weezer flag twenty years ago.