Last night, I paid a lot of money to see Weezer in concert for…let's see…the fifth time in my life? The band's first major tour (opening for Live in Minneapolis—I really liked those guys till they went all Jesusy); then early in Pinkerton tour again in Mpls; then, the week I moved to NYC, the tail end of the Pinkerton tour at Roseland; nine long years ago at Jones Beach, before they started pumping out mediocre albums; and now last night, again at Roseland. Want to feel really, really old? Go see your favorite college-era band in the same venue you saw them 13 years earlier, then spend the whole next day lying on your couch with a headache blogging about it. Works every time.
This was Weezer's Memories tour (sponsored by State Farm, only slightly more rock & roll than when Sears sponsored a Phil Collins tour), and as per the modern fad, it involves the band playing its classic albums in their entirety. Last night is was the band's self-titled debut release from 1994 (a.k.a. the Blue Album), tonight it's its legendary and misunderstood follow-up, 1996's Pinkerton. Together, those albums formed the bulk of the modern contingent of my college years' soundtrack (most of what I listened to in those days was 15-year-old punk and new wave), so they're indelibly hard-wired into my psyche. I wasn't sure at first which of the two shows I preferred to see, finally opting for night one, since (a) Pinkerton is a little too depressing for me to handle this time of year, and (b) Blue is just a flat-out better record, perhaps the best of the '90s.
But a quick note about my particular Weezer connection: As you may or may not recall, Pinkerton bombed when it was released. Frontman Rivers Cuomo sort of freaked out and bagged on properly promoting it, and the album was just dark, flying in the face of the reputation the band formed among nonfans as a joke-rock band (hard to blame them if the only thing you know is the video for "Buddy Holly").
By the late '90s, the band was considered all but dead, yet another example of '90s alt-rock-boom roadkill. And in 1999, still a dreadfully young man, I'd inexplicably found myself the very junior man in the music department of Rolling Stone magazine, and I lobbied hard for the Blue Album to be included in the magazine's list of the top 200 (not even 100) albums of the '90s. My bosses literally laughed at me; half of them thought I was talking about Ween. The album didn't make the list, but Foxy Brown, the Spice Girls and Billy Joel's River of Dreams were in attendance. Five years later, the Blue Album anniversary release got five out of five stars from the magazine. I love to say I told you so.
I'm getting way off the point here, which is…what? Weezer thoughts in general? As I tweeted during the show (of course), "Seeing Weezer perform the Blue Album makes me realize that I became a quizmaster only because I knew I would never be Rivers Cuomo," and I think that's one faux-profound witticism that stands up to scrutiny the next day. I couldn't fulfill the near-universal dream to be a rock star, but I still wanted to be king of the nerds.
And this thought: "the Blue Album." Such is how everyone refers to that first Weezer album, the band included, in reference to the cover hue, to distinguish it from Weezer's 2001 self-titled album (known as the Green Album) and its 2008 self-titled release (the Red Album). It's a little weird to hear it universally referred to as "the Blue Album," since for seven years, at the height of its fame and emotional power, it didn't have this name at all. It was just Weezer, or "the first album," or "the self-titled one" or "the one everyone cared about."
Even weirder is when it's rendered as The Blue Album—the italics indicative of an official album title (e.g., Pinkerton). Wrong, screams the nit-picky copy editor in me: just the Blue Album. Same as the White Album (formally The Beatles) and Led Zeppelin IV (untitled, also called Zoso, Runes, a bunch of other stoner-derived monikers).
Just nicknames, people. The Blue Album is not The Blue Album. Excuse me while I edit the Wikipedia page.