Archive for emo

Music Friday: undone

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 16, 2014 by goatmeal

Last week while I was writing about mothers, Weezer’s first album turned twenty years old. That’s something that turned out to be far more important than anyone thought likely at the time it first came out. I remember being a Weezer fan: they were kind of a breath of fresh air after Kurt Cobain died. They were fun and silly and kind of nerdy. Back in the 80s and 90s, nerds and guitars didn’t really go that well together, so that was a nice change. But nobody really expected them to be anything special. It seemed like Weezer was to Soundgarden fans in 1994 what They Might Be Giants was to The Cure fans in 1988. You’d buy their music, wear their t-shirts, and go to their concerts, but you didn’t care about the twenty year anniversary of their first album when it came around: they weren’t really the soundtrack to anyone’s life.
Unbeknownst to me until sometime within the past seven years, Weezer was more than that. I discovered there were people ten years younger than me who thought about Weezer in 2008 the way I had thought about Aerosmith in 1988. Aerosmith had paved the way for bands like Poison and Motley Crue the same way that Weezer had paved the way for the emos or the hipsters, or whatever it is you call those guys who sing out of key about not having a girlfriend. I suppose there was emo before Weezer came along: bands like Sunny Day Real Estate who knew how to play their instruments and saved the falsetto whining to emphasize the music instead of the other way around. But it was Weezer that somehow gave every nerdy boy who has every had his heart broken permission to think that was important enough to share with the rest of the world.
I can’t say that I fully understand the cult of Weezer, but I’d probably be one of the biggest Weezer fans around if they’d come out ten years earlier. Though they are certainly a band we listened to and have fond memories of, I think the reality is they were part of the beginning of the end for our generation’s music. They were our voice spoken in a way that those younger than us could understand, take, and do something else with that is beyond us. If Kurt Cobain was the last rock star, maybe Rivers Cuomo was the first non-rock star. On some level I can appreciate that, and take pride in my generation facilitating that change. But on some level I know that I don’t get it any more than the adults got what we were doing in middle school. At least we’re not calling Tipper Gore on them.