Saturday, August 11, 2012

Weezer - Pinkerton

Pinkerton was the first album I bought the day it came out. The drugstore in my small town was the only place for 30 miles that sold CD's. They generally stocked country and a few select rock titles, but you could special order anything from them, provided you paid cash up front.

Back in those days when the internet was young, there were things called web-rings. They were sets of related sites which were often fan sites of one thing or another. Weezer had one of the best web-rings on the net called Weezer Rebel Alliance. I scoured all Weezer related sites for any and all info on the band. I knew Pinkerton was coming out several months in advance, which was quite a novelty at the time. When the issues with Pinkerton Security were settled and the official release date was set, I went down to the drugstore and pre-ordered my copy. Then I waited for three months (you kids these days with your instant downloading of whatever you want *shakes fist*).

When the blessed day arrived, I was giddy with excitement. I knew the drugstore got their CD shipments in around 1:00, so I decided to do something I had never done up to that point: ditch class (I told you I was a nerd). I walked right out the front gate of the school and was greeted by the principal as I left. Because I was such a straight arrow, he just asked me how my day was going and watched me walk right off campus, assuming I was on school business. I walked the mile down to the drug store, picked up my copy of Pinkerton, and made it back to school in time for 7th hour (Like I said: a nerd). Before I took the album home, I opened up the back cover of the case and blacked out the words "of sex" in the song "Tired of Sex." I didn't want to risk my parents outlawing Pinkerton the way they did with Nevermind.

Three friends of mine came home with me from school because I had converted them to the joys of The Blue Album and they wanted to hear what else Weezer had in store. After the first three songs, one of my friends just couldn't take it. "This isn't very good," he said. My two other friends nodded and grunted in agreement. I turned it off and waited until they were gone before listening to the album in its entirety. Because I was all over the Weezer Rebel Alliance, I knew a lot about Pinkerton before I heard it. I knew the track listing, I knew it was supposed to be a much more intensely personal album (written during a painful period in which Rivers was at Harvard and undergoing a painful procedure to lengthen one of his legs which was shorter than the other), and I knew it was going to be more raw and gritty. I was ready for Pinkerton, but most of the rest of the world was not.

I was disappointed to find that Rolling Stone, a publication I actually cared about at the time, ranked Pinkerton as one of the worst albums of 1996. Now they pretend that they've been on Pinkerton all along, but I know the truth. A lot of people didn't like Pinkerton at first. It found its way into the bargain bins and used record stores pretty quickly. I saw Weezer on the tour supporting Pinkerton (December 21st, 1996. Electric Ballroom. Tempe, Arizona. It was a defining moment in my life) which turned out to be lucky for me. Rivers was let down by the poor reception of Pinkerton and because it's such an intensely personal album, they wouldn't play a single song from it in concert for years. Fast forward a bit and the emo movement discovered Pinkerton in the bargain bins and it somehow became an avowed classic, and not just inside the emo movement itself. It took the world almost a decade to figure out how good this album was. It was way ahead of its time in oh so many ways.

Even though I knew more about Pinkerton than any non-Weezer web geek, it still took a few spins to really sink in for me. I was a bit shaken by my friends' cold reception to the album, but I eventually found that I loved it and no bad press or negative reactions from friends could shake that. This is one of the all-time great albums of the last 20 years, and I'm proud to say that I was onto it early.

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