WEEZER: Heart Songs

More than 16 years after the start of Weezer’s career, with several million albums sold and seven singles that broached the Top 40 on the pop charts in the U.S. and the U.K., or both, the process of songwriting still seems to be something of a mystery to Cuomo, with the desire to keep pushing forward being the only thing he’s certain of.

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“I’ve written a lot of songs and have tried every possible way,” he says. “I find that I end up liking songs if I really have an idea of something I want to write about-some problem in my life or something I want to work through; if I don’t have something like that at the root of the song, then I think I end up not caring about it as much. I gravitate towards some kind of concept or idea or situation that I want to write about. Very often I have to write, rewrite and come at it from an opposite angle…and I end up writing the opposite song that I thought I was going to write.

“I would say that my main challenge on this record has been moving forward. I have nowhere near met that challenge yet-coming up with great songs that can reach an audience and be appreciated broadly, that don’t have a standard verse/chorus/verse structure,” he continues. “I really want to work on that. You’ll hear some experimentation in that direction on the record… I’m not convinced yet that our less-normally-structured songs are going to hook people in-like [album closer] ‘The Angel and the One’; there is no verse or chorus there, it’s an evolution. I don’t know if people are going to say that sucks, or maybe it’s OK to not be hooky all the time.”

Then again, it’s hard to deny the spectacle of 15,000 Weezer fans singing along with every word of every song, as has happened so many times on previous tours. “Yeah, like the Pinkerton songs,” Cuomo recalls, “where there is a lot going on in there, but people still say they are catchy”-but maybe they’re even as memorable as anything Gordon Lightfoot, Eddie Rabbitt or ABBA ever gave us.

Jim DeRogatis is the pop music critic at the Chicago Sun-Times and the co-host of Public Radio’s Sound Opinions, the world’s only rock and roll talk show.

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