Weezer's "Say It Ain't So" limited edition 10-inch vinyl single.
Weezer was formed in Los Angeles in 1992 by Rivers Cuomo (vocals, guitar, keyboards, drums, harmonica), Patrick Wilson (drums), Jason Cropper (guitar, vocals), and Matt Sharp (bass, vocals). Their first gig was opening for Dogstar; soon their self-released “Kitchen Tapes” attracted attention from major label A&R representatives, and they signed with Geffen Records in June 1993. From August to September 1993, the band recorded their debut album at Electric Lady Studios in New York City (Rik Ocasek produced the album). During the recording of the album, Brian Bell replaced Jason Cropper. The album was released in May 1994, and was certified gold by the end of the year, eventually selling over 3 million copies. It spawned three singles: “Undone – The Sweater Song” (U.S. #57), “Buddy Holly” (U.S. #17), and “Say It Ain’t So”/”No One Else” [Live]/ “Jamie” [Live]. “Say It Ain’t So” is today’s featured single.
“Say It Ain’t So” is one of the more ponderous songs from the band’s debut album; it’s a catchy, tuneful song, but it is also a really emotional song, in which the protagonist sings about obviously painful childhood memories: “Flip on the tele’ /Wrestle with Jimmy /Something is bubbling /Behind my back/The bottle is ready to blow”. Here Rivers Cuomo draws an analogy between memories of childhood bubbling to the surface and an exploding soda bottle, with obvious effect. Cuomo claims the song was inspired by an incident that occurred when he was in high school. He saw a beer bottle in the refrigerator, and suddenly realized his parent’s marriage may have failed due to his father’s drinking, and that the marriage between his mother and stepfather might fail for the same reason. The middle bridge is powerful too, in which the singer dictates a letter to his estranged father: “Dear Daddy/I write you in spite of years of silence/You’ve cleaned up, found Jesus/Things are good or so I hear/This bottle of Steven’s awakens ancient feelings/Like father, stepfather, the son is drowning in the flood”. This gives way to a mournful-sounding guitar solo, with the guitar whining much like the singer. The song ends with the same simple guitar melody with which it opened, a nice flourish that perhaps suggests the Ocasek touch. “Say It Ain’t So” was the least successful of the three singles from “Weezer”, lacking either the sly novelty of “Undone” or the mass appeal of “Buddy Holly”, but in spite of that, “Say It Ain’t So” suggested that “Weezer” was capable of tackling more solemn topics in their music.
The U.K. release of the single also contains two live acoustic tracks. The first is a version of “No One Else”, the studio version of which was included on “Weezer”. In it, the singer maligns his current girlfriend (“My girl’s got a big mouth with which she babbles a lot/She laughs at most everythin’ whether it’s funny or not/And if you see her tell her it’s over now”) and yearns for a girl who will “laugh for no one else”. It is a bit strange to hear a melancholy, stripped-down version of the song – the track does not pack the same punch without the full Weezer power pop treatment. Still, it was interesting to hear.
The last track on the single is “Jamie”, an ode to the band’s lawyer, and the better of the two acoustic tracks. The song contains typically humorous lyrics (“You’ve got the Beach Boys, and your firm’s got the Stones/But I know you won’t leave me alone”), and compelling harmony vocals (especially the “hoo-ooo-ooo” during the chorus). This song will likely only be of interest to the hardcore Weezer fan, but is a worthy addition to the band’s catalog.
The single (catalog #: GED 22064) was issued by Geffen in the United States on CD in July 1995. It was issued in the U.K., both on CD and on vinyl (as a 10-inch single). By the time this single was released, the band was already at work on a second album; the resulting album, “Pinkerton” (1996) was seen as a commercial failure compared to the multi-platinum success of “Weezer”; the album eventually went gold, however, and has sold over 800,000 copies. This would be Matt Sharp’s last album with the group; he was replaced by Mikey Walsh. After a lengthy hiatus, the band returned in 2001 with “Weezer” (a.k.a. “The Green Album”). The album debuted at #4 in the U.S. and was soon certified platinum, confirming the fact that the band had retained a loyal fan base during its hiatus. Mikey Walsh, who had checked into a psychiatric hospital was replaced by Scott Shriner before the recording of their next album, “Maladroit” (2002), which received generally favorable reviews. The live EP “The Lion and the Witch” was released later that year. Their next album, “Make Believe” (2005), proved to be their highest-charting album in the U.S., peaking at #2 and selling over 1.2 million copies. The Rich Rubin-produced “Weezer” (a.k.a. “The Red Album”) followed in 2008; the following year, they released “Raditude”, which was also their last album for Geffen (they announced their departure from the label in December 2009). They signed with the independent label Epitaph, which released “Hurley” (2010) and the compilation album “Death to False Metal” (2010).