Today is the 25th anniversary of the release of Weezer’s debut album. To talk about it, we have a guest post from my roommate Amy Bilancini -Ed.)
It was 2001 and I was 15. I was working at Juicy Lucy, the ice cream shop in Watertown Square about 10 minutes from my mom’s house, with my bff Jess. We were basically inseparable and work was no different. We were always scheduled for the same shifts which made the quiet evenings less boring and the mad-dash summer rush more tolerable. During our shifts we were required to listen to the Top 40 station on the in-store satellite radio but Jess and I were ~*~rEbElLiOuS~*~ and would always pop in a CD or two to change things up. We had choreographed moves to “Particle Man” by They Might Be Giants – Flood was on repeat for about a week after I bought a copy – and would start “mini mosh-pits” behind the counter by slowly and gently bumping into one another while we listened to Half Hour of Power.
At the start of one of our 3pm-close shifts, right as the weather started to get warm, Jess came into work with a bright blue CD in her Case Logic. She was so excited to share this new band she just got into with me and “they had a new album coming out soon and you’re gonna love them, Amy, I swear”. So our little CD player whirred into action and it’s no exaggeration to say my (musical) life changed after hearing that opening riff.
Weezer made their debut on May 10, 1994, with the release of Weezer aka “The Blue Album” on Geffen Records and it was certified platinum in less than a year. Reader, I was only 8 at the time and still trying to figure out what music even was so I can’t tell you what life in the 90s pre- and post-Weezer was like. But in 2001 it was everything to me that this black-bespectacled boy was singing about Dungeons & Dragons, dying, and disrobing in the most ineffective way possible.
A lot of Weezer’s oeuvre has not aged well (lookin’ at you, the entirety of Pinkerton) and we could sit here all day debating whether or not we really needed The Teal Album (Answer: we did if only to whet our appetites for a full on 80s new wave-style album of originals) but The Blue Album stands outside this debate. It is, in this writer’s humble opinion, a perfect album – one with no skippable tracks (Listen to your college floormate play “Say it Ain’t So” every day on the acoustic guitar and tell me it’s not skippable -Ed.). It opens and closes on the strength of only one instrument and builds and recedes like the tides. The middle of the album – “Buddy Holly”, “Undone – The Sweater Song”, “Surf Wax America”, and “Say it Ain’t So” – is a perfect sequence for being an Angsty Teen With Feelings when you haven’t yet discovered Conor Oberst. Sure Pinkerton is raw id recorded but I don’t think you’d find a 16-year-old who is tired of having all kinds of sex with random women or pining for underaged Japanese girls … ok maybe not that last part but I think you get my point. The Blue Album was relatable at a time of the physical and emotional upheaval of teendom. We all had a “garage” where we felt safe, we all wanted to bail out of school to go “surfing”, we all pined for a ex or an unrequited crush and talked to their “wallet photograph.”
It was the 90s; it was cool to be awkward and terrible on TV, even if you’re the host.
The Blue Album sort of transcended genre separations between my friends and I when it came to music. It being the early 2000s there was a lot of nu metal going around and the boys I hung out with – specifically Dave, Matt and Chris – were deep in it. A lot of the time we were listening to Slipknot, Mudvayne, Tool, things like that, and their band, Delusions of Adequacy, drew its inspiration from that genre of music. I, on the other hand, was discovering that pop-punk was where my tastes were headed so we clashed on what was “good music” a lot of the time. But Weezer was something different.
One time, Dave’s mom was driving us somewhere (the destination isn’t really important but either we were going to band practice or Jess’s house… maybe the mall. Watertown is small and there were a lot of places we could have been headed to at the intersection of Arsenal and School Street) when a car pulled up next to us at the light. We had on the radio, probably tuned to WBCN (RIP) or WAAF (Sorry for Opie & Anthony), but from the car next to us we heard it.
The most identifiable riff in all of Weezer’s career.
and everyone of us in the car started yell-singing in the way annoying teens do “OOOH WEEE OOOH I LOOK JUST LIKE BUDDY HOLLY” without missing a beat. To this day, thinking about that one weird moment makes me smile.
Weezer may never again capture the magic of The Blue Album and may very well have worn out their welcome among the masses with … whatever it is they’re trying to do now. But we’ll always have that skinny boy with a bowl cut staring at us, imploring us to hold this thread. Even if it’s only in dreams.
Amy Bilancini lives in Brooklyn with two cats and the greatest man who’s ever lived. On Saturday, May 18, you can catch her running the Brooklyn Half Marathon. Find her on Instagram and Twitter at h0rcrux.
Did the Blue album change your life like the Shins did for Natalie Portman in Garden State? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter. Also, if you’d like to hear Josh Gondelman talk about the Blue album check out this episode of 1994 the Podcast.