For Better Or For Worse: The Green Album Turns 20

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Weezer – Weezer (The Green Album)

Released May 15th, 2001 on Geffen Records

Produced by Ric Ocasek

Peaked at #4 U.S., #31 U.K.

Singles:

Hash Pipe” (#4 U.S. Modern Rock, #21 U.K.)

Photograph” (#17 U.S. Modern Rock)

Island In The Sun” (#11 U.S. Modern Rock, #31 U.K.)

We can be forgiven, can’t we? The elder Millennials who saw the return of Weezer in the spring of 2001 as a good thing? Maybe even a great thing? All we had to judge by was the Blue Album, then and now one of the finest releases of the Alternative Nineties and Pinkerton, which kicked a lot of ass at the time but has since come to seem a little, uh, creepy in spots. We were all circling around graduating high school at the time, though, and stalking a half-Japanese girl through the halls of Harvard and reading her diary seemed weirdly romantic rather than just weird.

So when “Hash Pipe” came out and we were like “Weezer? They came back?” it was a surprise to most of us. Pinkerton had been a massive commercial flop and those of us who weren’t embedded into deeply niche pre-social media emo scenes had pretty much just dropped it and the band, chalking them up as another one-album wonder like Marcy Playground, Harvey Danger, Tonic, etc. It was the 1990s. That’s what we did: picked up a band, loved the hell out of one album, and then tossed them in the garbage by the time their next album came out. Weezer was a little different, of course. The band’s songs had been miles beyond their alt-rock brethren, especially on that single, “Buddy Holly.” It’s the perfect song for the era: three minutes, in-and-out; winsome and cute references to a bygone age, both in the lyrics and in the Happy Days video; the guitar solo, the perfect expression of the solo as the “electric orgasm” at the peak of the song. Honestly, that short little unaccompanied bit at the climax of the song outdoes every single wank-fest three-minute solo from the squalid days of Sunset Strip hair metal. I’ve given the band a lot of leeway over the years because of that one single brief shining moment in time.

It was that leeway that led us to believe that something good could come out of this Weezer comeback. “Comeback” was right, too; the singles actually caught hold on radio unlike those of five years prior. “Hash Pipe”, “Photograph”, and “Island In The Sun” were everywhere in the summer of 2001, and Rivers Cuomo’s disavowal of the emotions and the songwriting on Pinkerton helped to assure everyone that the band was back on track. They even sounded like it: the rough edges of Pinkerton had been filed down to round corners and if the guitar tone wasn’t quite as heavy as it had been in 1994 it still had plenty of crunch to compete for radio space with the dregs of nu-metal that were infesting radio airwaves everywhere. The songwriting was catchy and professional, something that should have alerted us all to the fact that something was deeply wrong but in 2001 we were naive, remember? The towers wouldn’t fall for nearly four months, the future was a wide-open set of glorious possibilities, and the crunching, soaring sound of alt-rock’s nerd ambassadors provided the soundtrack of our lives in the summer before college, 9/11, and reality.

Of course, it all ended in tears. Both life and Weezer. Maladroit lulled us into a false sense of security but then came the endless parade of color albums, each worse than the last. The big dumb “Beverley Hills” single. The album with Hurley’s face on it. The album with the stupid dog and the stupider name. The goddamn karaoke covers album. The very idea of “Van Weezer.” God I hate Weezer. I hate them so goddamn much. Fuck this stupid band. Green Album is still pretty good, though.

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