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In The Garage

 

The great “In The Garage” is a rare entry in the all-too-shortlist of Weezer songs with harmonica, which also includes the esteemed likes of “Mykel & Carli,” “Pig,” “Wanda (You’re My Only Love),” “My Name Is Jonas” and “Freak Me Out” (one of these is not quite like the others). The mouth organ riff that begins the song is nicely accompanied by a pretty finger-picked acoustic – a classic Weezer touch, like the heavy electric guitars of the driving verse. The chorus is pure melody, its lyrics offering a more universal counterpoint to the verse’s personal childhood references: “In the garage, I feel safe / No one cares about my ways / In the garage, where I belong / No one hears me sing this song.”

The song brims with subtle moments of brilliance. The way that, on the second verse, everything drops out but Cuomo’s voice, Matt Sharp’s bass, and Pat Wilson’s simple drumbeat,the guitars crashing back in on the “and” of the fourth beat with a great big cymbal crash, and Brian Bell’s backup harmonies. The strange little scream that Cuomo lets out before tearing into the solo — perhaps the weirdest and most narratively compelling solo of Weezer’s entire discography (the beginning of the solo is Cuomo picking up the guitar for the first time, just making noise; playing around a little longer, he’s able to make some cool, flashy sounds; and finally, it ends with a graceful passage that fits the song and moment perfectly, as though as a player he has gradually honed not just skill but taste). The vocals rising up on the outro — the cute, perfectly cheesy repetition of “no one hears me!” — and the return of the harmonica for the final chords.

Notable variations: in 1994, the band did a couple great live acoustic versions for FM radio (wherein that wild guitar solo is actually played on the harmonica!). As late as their most recent tour in 2005, they’ve been playing the song live — which, being one of Cuomo’s earliest and most personal gems, inexplicably featured late-period bassist Scott Shriner on lead vocals. The band also did a version for their all-killer MTV All Access set in 2001, which also featured a new bassist (Mikey Welsh), but sensibly left the lead to Cuomo. Lastly, there’s a brief clip of Cuomo playing the “Garage” melody on a harpsichord on the Video Capture Device DVD, which sounds quite nice.

35 Comments

  1. Soyrev wrote:

    An official Very Best of Weezer selection.

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 9:26 am | Permalink
  2. John wrote:

    ‘I feel safe/ No one cares about my ways’ is one of my favorite lyrics ever.

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 9:52 am | Permalink
  3. CountChocula wrote:

    “t was different, it was unique, it was individual, and yet, it was easily and naturally relatable.”

    “but this is a personal song and the words mean nothing to him. It’s just not right”

    Hypocrite? Personally, I feel anyone could sing this song and it could mean just as much to them as it does to Rivers. Just because Scott wasn’t around 7 years earlier, it doesn’t mean he didn’t get something out of that song. It can mean so much to anyone, and I think it’s a kind of cool way of showing that is having someone who didn’t write the song singing it. I do understand your wanting Rivers to sing the classic weezer songs, but I just think it’s a bit extreme to say that the song means nothing to Scott.

    Otherwise, amazing entry. You truly have a way with words man. I love reading this blog, keep up the good work.

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 10:23 am | Permalink
  4. Soyrev wrote:

    Haha, you make an excellent point Mr. Chocula (very astute!), but there’s a difference between me and Scott — when I’m belting the song out, I’m not doing it in front of however many thousand paying customers. To say the song means nothing to him was a bit of an overstatement, I agree, but seriously…It’s not his song, and it offends me that it’s treated as such on such a grand stage. Again, I don’t give a shit about “Smile” or “Dope Nose” or even “Photograph” going to the other band members, because those are pretty formulaic, simple songs…But Cuomo really poured his heart and soul into “In The Garage.” When Weezer plays it, Cuomo should be singing.

    Also, I’m a little critical about Scott delving into old material because he’s been a part of the band for 7 years and 3 albums now (more than any other bassist in the band’s history)…and he still doesn’t seem to fit in. I mean, yes, I’m accustomed to seeing the current lineup in the press photos and whatnot, but he still seems to come from a very different place and understanding than the rest of the band members do. I don’t care if he and Rivers both used to play in metal bands, it just doesn’t really fit in my opinion — even though he is, technically speaking, the finest bassist Weezer has ever had, and I do often appreciate the hell out of his playing. But the fact that he managed to get “Cold Dark World” on an album, revived “King” when no one else was talking about it (then read it completely straight), and is clearly bored (even a little embarrassed) when playing songs like “Miss Sweeney”…I mean, c’mon.

    Oh, and don’t get me wrong, I’m bummed when other band members sing classic Weez, too. I think “El Scorcho” ought to be sung by Bell from now on, just ’cause he sings it with way more feeling, but “Getchoo” and “Why Bother” too? Give us a break, guys…

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 10:35 am | Permalink
  5. CountChocula wrote:

    Do you have a link to Brian singing El Scorcho? I actually haven’t heard much of other band members singing songs, and I love Brian’s voice.

    And I get the same feelings about Scott as you do most of the time. First off, visually speaking, he doesn’t look much like a weezer at all what with his buffness and tattoos. Then those glasses just always made me think of him as “trying too hard.” However, I’ve grown to accept him as the bassist of weezer. I would take Matt Sharp in a heartbeat, but I love Scott for alot of the work he’s done. I just kinda felt it was over doing it to state that it meant literally nothing to him.

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 11:01 am | Permalink
  6. Art Vandelay wrote:

    Rev, your thoughts on Scott are pretty dead-on. He should have had the good sense to not fuck with this song, even if Rivers asked him to do it.

    Really, handing off one of the classics for the hired gun bassist to sing was a really stupid, flippant move on the band’s part.

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 11:20 am | Permalink
  7. Adroit wrote:

    I’ve always taken the “…and I love everyone!” line as being a deliberately lyrically-‘stupid’ follow-on from the preceding line “I write these stupid words…”

    Is that right? Just a thought.

    Keep up the good work

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 2:41 pm | Permalink
  8. skiz65 wrote:

    It’s funny, this is also the song that turned me into a hardcore true =w= fan. I remember the summer when i was 15 i used to enjoy Buddy Holly, and i LOVED Say It Ain’t So (this was when the video was in high rotation, and i would watch MTV every day until i saw it) but for some reason i never bought the album. Eventually, when school started, one of my friends who had the Blue Album told me that she thought the song In The Garage reminded her of me, and i should borrow the album. Thank god she let me do that. I must have listened through tracks 7-10 constantly the weekend she let me borrow it. After that, i had to buy it, and the rest was boring personal history. Also, it’s funny, i always thought Mikey was different from the weezer “norm” (tattoos, cigs) but he seemed to fit in in some weird way. Scott, just doesn’t. I’m not a Scott hater, but you really nailed it by bringing up CDW and King. (this comment was far too long, sorry).

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 3:28 pm | Permalink
  9. tapegun wrote:

    adroit, i think it’s, “i write these stupid words, and i love every one”; as in he loves every word he writes, even though they may be “stupid”.

    as for scott he is a friendly and humble guy – i am happy to see he’s not getting some of the hate I have seen the guy get. although many of you state he doesn’t fit in the band…i don’t think any of the bassists really “fit” in the band any better.

    matt had the weezer “look” but i really don’t give a damn about that. he was annoying when the band played live, continually hogged interview time and was at times, arrogant. the guy by all accounts was (and still is) a prima donna.

    mikey it seems might have been a lost cause from the start. he seemed nice enough and he was very funny but the guy was party city…drunk or high or both all the time. i think the band could have handled the situation with a little more class but this is tempered by two things.

    A) seriously, this is rivers – if anyone leaves the band its going to be awkward.

    B) we don’t know everything that happened

    my main point (and i have one) is that i think from many standpoints, including technically and attitude (and yes, those are important) scott fits better than either mikey or matt.

    i’m not saying he doesn’t have issues (CDW, King) but still….

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 5:17 pm | Permalink
  10. Martin wrote:

    This has always been the Weezer song that seemed to define me. My very first Weezer album was Blue. I too realized I’d discovered something incredible when it came to In the Garage. The classical sound of the acoustic intro leading into that amazingly atmospheric mix of the dirge guitar in my left headphone is incredible. It is the Weezer song that I instantly clicked with. The superheroes, the dice and D&D guide, the Kiss references, everything seemed to be there. Each verse adds to why the garage holds such significance for Rivers. In the final verse, he finally says what it is that really keeps him there; his privacy and solitude allows him to really be himself. I love that. As someone who really needs to get out of their room more, In the Garage really spoke to me. The solo is also my favorite off the Blue album and was the first one I decided to learn on guitar. The harmonies on the final chorus from Brian really left the song to a level previously unforeseen. It is the best mix and arrangement of any Weezer song I have ever heard.

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 8:18 pm | Permalink
  11. Martin wrote:

    I forgot those wonderful and gentle harmonies that come in every time Rivers says, “I’ve got…”

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 8:19 pm | Permalink
  12. Soyrev wrote:

    Art: That’s part of the problem. Paying to see Scott sing “In The Garage” — just such a slap in the face.

    Tapegun: I love Sharp, but I will not forgive some of his antics. I think he added a lot of energy to the band’s sets, but when he squawked, missed basslines and did dumbass shit like that, it just sucked. He deserved to get the ax for that alone.

    Still. Mikey was the shit. Scott’s technical proficiency is a bit of a moot point, because believe it or not, Mikey was capable of pulling off some killer licks too — but was not talented enough to do the meatheaded “shredding” that helped facilitate the mess of Maladroit. His playing was a little simpler, but more fitting for what Weezer tries to achieve.

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 8:24 pm | Permalink
  13. GumbyTom wrote:

    I could never figure out if the ‘and I love every one” referred to the “words” or those (people, I’m guessing) who were waiting for him in the garage (bandmates?).

    Still, when I first heard this song, I connected with it. I dabbled in Dungeons and Dragons once, and was a huge X-Men fan (even though my fandom was winding down when I first heard this song, it still spoke to me). I may have been in my mid-to-later teens, but hearing this song immediately after hearing one in which the ‘rock star’ sung out about how his relationship with his step father wasn’t that great meant there were other people in the world who had the same problems and issues that I did. Nevermind that these two songs (Garage and SIAS) were great rock, but they just spoke to me.

    And even though I consider myself better adjusted today, garage is still fun to sing along to.

    Soy, I have no idea what that noise at 2:32 is, but it’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever heard. In all my years of singing along to this song, I’ve never been able to replicate it.

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 8:56 pm | Permalink
  14. allpwrtoslaves wrote:

    i fuckin love this song. at first i had only heard of SIAS ans Buddy Holly, so i decided to check limewire for some the bands tunes. this was the first one i downloaded. the second it ended i knew i had to buy the whole album.

    Definitely in my top 5 favorite weezer songs

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 9:31 pm | Permalink
  15. Jason-From A6 Boards wrote:

    I think the innocence of this song makes it as incredible as it is.

    the overwhelming feeling of just a wholesome, genuine connection with the song makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 10:56 pm | Permalink
  16. Joe Blow wrote:

    Pretty sure the sounds around 2:32 are just slides along the high e and b strings. (I think it goes high e slide up, b slide up then down, high e slide up). Don’t remember the exact starting/ending frets, haven’t played the solo in a while.

    Wednesday, August 20, 2008 at 6:25 am | Permalink
  17. HowCoolIsThat wrote:

    Great entry.

    Sometimes I still find it mind-blowing that Weezer was able to pull off such a masterpiece of a debut album. To think he was no older than I am and writing songs of this caliber is ridiculous.

    Wednesday, August 20, 2008 at 8:03 am | Permalink
  18. zxcvb wrote:

    “The solo is also my favorite off the Blue album and was the first one I decided to learn on guitar.”

    That solo is brilliant because it evokes exactly that — a kid learning to play guitar. At first, he sucks and can barely play the simple melody line. Then he starts to fiddle around with it and get some neat squeals out of it. And then he finally puts it all together…and starts shredding.

    I like to think of it as a “narrative solo” (joining Across the Sea in its limited company).

    Wednesday, August 20, 2008 at 10:03 pm | Permalink
  19. Soyrev wrote:

    Damn, zxcvb — a “narrative solo.” That’s deep. Ever think about explaining how ATS has a narrative solo over on its comments section? I really like that idea.

    Friday, August 22, 2008 at 7:41 pm | Permalink
  20. Soyrev wrote:

    And to answer Mr. Chocula, way down on comment #5: no, I don’t have any “personal” reason I prefer Brian singing “El Scorcho.” You can just tell he loves it, still really feels that song — it comes through in his performance. Meanwhile, whenever Cuomo does it, he sounds bored out of his mind, even embarrassed; last tour, he would get down and crawl on hands and knees to try to pretend he gave a shit, but the void of feeling is just so plain in his voice. It sounds tired, uninterested. The L&TW EP documents this nicely.

    Friday, August 22, 2008 at 7:43 pm | Permalink
  21. zxcvb wrote:

    Thanks! I would love to when I have a chance to put some thought into it. Right now, my brain is workin’ overtime-uh and fired from non-Weezer related stuff, ha.

    Sunday, August 24, 2008 at 3:53 am | Permalink
  22. Dondo wrote:

    Am I the only person who actually does pronounce garage like “grodge”? Heh, I guess that’s why I never though River’s pronunciation of it was funny. But I’ve always related to In the Garage. Like it’s said in the review, I’ve always kind of swapped the garage with the posters on the wall to my own room.

    Sunday, August 24, 2008 at 5:10 pm | Permalink
  23. PKMN Trainer Red wrote:

    This is one of my least favorite songs off of The Blue Album.

    And that just goes to show what an amazing album it is.

    “In the Garage” is a great song. You’re completely right when you say that this is the song that captures that universal relatability that Cuomo longs for these days. He really needs to learn that “relatable” doesn’t necessarily mean “generic”. “In the Garage” is a unique song filled to the brim with character, and yet I’ll be damned if I can find anyone who can’t relate to its theme.

    Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 6:35 pm | Permalink
  24. CountChocula wrote:

    Haven’t checked this in a while, so sorry for the delay but

    And to answer Mr. Chocula, way down on comment #5: no, I don’t have any “personal” reason I prefer Brian singing “El Scorcho.” You can just tell he loves it, still really feels that song — it comes through in his performance. Meanwhile, whenever Cuomo does it, he sounds bored out of his mind, even embarrassed; last tour, he would get down and crawl on hands and knees to try to pretend he gave a shit, but the void of feeling is just so plain in his voice. It sounds tired, uninterested. The L&TW EP documents this nicely.”

    I’m afraid you misunderstood me. By Link I meant like youtube link, not personal link. I wanted to hear it lol, but I do agree that rivers seems very bored during all the live performances of this song. Since I’ve posted though I managed to find a vid with Brian sing El Scorcho, so no worries about the link thing. I’ve grown to really like Brian’s voice, and I’m kind of excited to hear him sing some Pinkerton stuff on the tour this year instead of Rivers being bored doing it.

    Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 1:51 pm | Permalink
  25. Ace wrote:

    Contrary to popular belief, Brian Bell has no vocals or guitar-work on this album. That’s a fact.

    Monday, October 6, 2008 at 5:16 pm | Permalink
  26. Soyrev wrote:

    How do you back that up?

    Monday, October 6, 2008 at 5:34 pm | Permalink
  27. Ace wrote:

    Ears help.

    Monday, October 6, 2008 at 6:19 pm | Permalink
  28. Ace wrote:

    It’s a fact though, previous guitarist was fired. All guitar parts and backing vocals were take’n off and re-done.

    Monday, October 6, 2008 at 6:22 pm | Permalink
  29. Soyrev wrote:

    Well, yes. Cuomo did the guitar parts (except the intro to MNIJ, which they decided was too good to replicate), Bell did a considerable number of backing vocals.

    Monday, October 6, 2008 at 6:23 pm | Permalink
  30. Ace wrote:

    Whatever helps you sleep, I guess.

    Monday, October 6, 2008 at 7:03 pm | Permalink
  31. Soyrev wrote:

    Errr…you too?

    Monday, October 6, 2008 at 7:07 pm | Permalink
  32. brado8 wrote:

    ‘That solo is brilliant because it evokes exactly that — a kid learning to play guitar. At first, he sucks and can barely play the simple melody line. Then he starts to fiddle around with it and get some neat squeals out of it. And then he finally puts it all together…and starts shredding.’

    I’ve been thinking about this while listening to the solo recently, and it’s like I’m hearing this solo for the first time. The ‘narration’ is a really neat idea, perfectly pulled off.

    Monday, November 24, 2008 at 9:10 pm | Permalink
  33. Soyrev wrote:

    For some reason, the intro to this song reminds me of the outro to “Don’t Go Near The Water” by the Beach Boys. Not that I’m implying anything (’cause I’m not), but damn, that tag is so good!

    Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 10:33 pm | Permalink
  34. yim_yecker wrote:

    This is great post I somehow overlooked! Great comments too. I fell in love with the solo all over again.

    Thursday, July 28, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Permalink
  35. Jamekae wrote:

    I love how much fuzz there is on the guitar in this track, it really helps establish the setting of the garage. Who doesn’t turn the distortion up to 11 and just muck around occasionally when alone with their guitar and amp in their practice space?! I think that teamed with the ‘narrative’ solo proves just how good Rivers was with telling a story through the music back in the nineties. Just amazing.

    Saturday, November 19, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

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