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Peace

At the time of its 2005 release, “Peace” was perhaps the most thematically thoughtful song Weezer had put on an album in the near-decade since Pinkerton. A lot of that has to do with Cuomo’s refrain — “I need to find some peace” — which refers to Cuomo’s then-nascent experiences with Vispasanna meditation. The acoustic guitar in the verse seems to represent that for which Cuomo longs, while the jagged riff that cuts through it might be harsh reality decimating Cuomo’s attempts to block it all out (a theme he’d revisit in more overwrought terms come 2008’s “Dreamin'”). The wordless wails that follow the chorus speak to that pain the most clearly, while the serene outro of strummed acoustics, Pat Wilson’s consoling beat, and Scott Shriner’s delicate bass figures indicate Cuomo’s achievement of that peace, even as he continues to chase it. (The song clearly meant something to him, .)

Granted, as with any Make Believe recording, the downright sterile mix does sap some of the song’s power (although “Peace” less so than many other songs on the album). Likewise, Cuomo lets slip some lyrical blunders: the infamous “there is no way I can stop / my poor brain is gonna pop” line sucks indeed, and nearly all of the lines ring overly general for what appears to be a very personal song. But there is some redemption in more esoteric lines: “Counting all the flowers / Waste the precious hours,” “I don’t have a purpose / Scattered on the surface,” and “All the broken tethers / We can bring together” aren’t any endorsement for Cuomo’s poetic prowess, but they’re well suited to the song’s meaning and soundscape.

Emotional vocal performances from Cuomo post-Pinkerton are few and far between (only one apiece comes to mind from The Green Album and Maladroit: “O Girlfriend” and “Death and Destruction,” respectively), and this one works pretty well. Props are also due that great solo, which arcs beautifully above those of Green‘s formulaic redundancy and Maladroit‘s directionless shredding.

The band did a decent job of conveying the song’s power live, and Cuomo’s repeatedly earnest vocal performance proves that this song did indeed mean something to him (further evidence: it originally closed Make Believe). The 5/10/05 performance at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia is probably best, as Brian Bell throws in a cool extra trick or two with the final “whoa-oh” harmonies, and a bit of angsty feedback on the second verse.

24 Comments

  1. Sick Nick wrote:

    I was at the Electric Factory show you mentioned above. At first I was really dissapointed when Peace was chosen for the set as they were flip flopping between Peace and This is Such a Pity each night and Pity, for me, is the stand out track of that record. However, Peace did take on a new life after that preformance.

    Sunday, August 24, 2008 at 8:10 am | Permalink
  2. Adroit wrote:

    I don’t dislike this song at all, but when the overall sheen and bloatedness of the musicianship on this record is brought up, for some reason this song is always the first in my head.

    Rivers has always had an earnestness to his vocal performances, but across Make Believe, and the ‘i need to find some peace’ line here, I think he was trying to inject some gravitas into his singing that is simply not necessary.

    For me, this track also epitomises the ‘pro-tooled’ recent material – an overall sound that has obviously been pieced together and layered from disparate takes in the studio for precisions sake.
    The craftsmenship involved is undeniable, but whatever happened to the sound of four guys in the same room playing a song and somebody pressing record?
    You lose the sense of them being a band, and gain the sense of them being a collection of shit-hot session musicians doing a shift at work.

    And this doesn’t just relate to Weezer, its a lot of other bands that are given a large recording budget for the time and make the decision to use all of it rather than using just what is necessary and no more…

    Anyways, the outro on this song is one of my favourite moments on the record.

    Sunday, August 24, 2008 at 10:33 am | Permalink
  3. GumbyTom wrote:

    My favorite track off Make Believe, and not just because it’s one of the very few songs that I can play on guitar.

    Soy, I’m surprised that you gave the ‘if there’s something i can grab/you can bet, i’ll pay the tab’ line a pass while criticizing the others. That was one of those lines that a lot of people had trouble digesting when this song first came out. But I rather do like the ‘there is no way I can stop / my poor brain is gonna pop’ and ‘flowers/hours’ lines- they’re graphic, but seem to hit home what he’s saying.

    I heard this at least once on the MB and Foozer tour- not sure which show it was at (and it may have been at both). The crowd really dug the woah-woah-woah-woah (etc.) bit, and I wouldn’t mind if they kept this song in the setlist for the upcoming tour for that reason.

    One other thing- this is one of those songs they played at the Hotel Cafe acoustic show in ’02. I’d really like to hear that, not only to have an acoustic version, but also to find out how much the song changed in 3 years. For instance, was woah-woah-woah-woah (etc.) ever something else, or was that it? (I’m guessing that was it, because it brings the point of the song home).

    Sunday, August 24, 2008 at 11:02 am | Permalink
  4. PeeGrinder wrote:

    You really nailed it on this one. I particularly agree about what you said about the wordless bridge being the emotional core of the song, like on the chorus of ‘Perfect Situation’ – it expresses more than simple, allegedly trite words could. It makes steam come out of my ears and penis when I hear these sections on those two songs being described and “lyrically lazy” as it completely misses the point.

    Personally, I still feel that it doesn’t get quite as moving as the latter half of my favourite ‘The Other Way’, but that’s for another day.

    Sunday, August 24, 2008 at 11:11 am | Permalink
  5. Art Vandelay wrote:

    [“In my mind, that opening riff seems to evoke something huge and ancient…first and foremost, I see a mountain. Something about it also feels kind of East Asian (anyone else? anyone?)”]

    It’s a pentatonic melody, which is what a lot of eastern music is founded on.

    There are some nice things about the song, but like all the MB songs, I feel like it suffers from being one of a huge batch of songs they recorded… meaning it probably didn’t get the attention it deserved and could have been much much cooler.

    The solo section is my biggest gripe. The transition into it is really weak, and the whole thing is comprised of licks I had in my bag of tricks back when I was 16 and just starting out learning to play leads. To my ears, it just kind of meanders without really saying anything.

    The MB mix issues have already been discussed; but again, this suffers from a weak drum sound and muddy guitars.

    On a positive note, I do kinda like the vocal delivery, but it’s still not on par with pre-hiatus Weezer.

    Sunday, August 24, 2008 at 1:00 pm | Permalink
  6. Soyrev wrote:

    Sick Nick: I wish I went. I really don’t know what I was thinking/doing that night…

    Adroit: The Blue Album was done through piecemeal construction, as well. I think Pinkerton is the only Weezer album with a “live band” feel to it (and it shows). I think they recorded all the instrumental tracks together (with occasional overdubs), then did the vocals last, Rivers, Brian and Matt all circled around a microphone setup. Ah, what magical days…

    Gumbytom: The “grab/tab” line was not purposefully unmentioned, really. Yeah, that line’s not too great, either. I forgot all about “Peace” having been played live in freakin’ 2002! I really want to hear that version, too.

    Peegrinder: I don’t know if the “whoa-oh” chorus in PS is as purposed/thematic as it is here…Going to have to consider that when that one comes up.

    Art: Thanks for the heads-up; that riff is definitely an anomaly in the Weezer catalog, and given your light on the subject, I think it’s safe to say that the East Asian vibe was intentional. Very cool.

    I like the solo, personally…Not Cuomo’s finest, but it’s at least not redundant nor annoying. It’s nice to listen to, and fits the song pretty well. You can’t ask for a “narrative solo” everytime, as zxcvb would say.

    Sunday, August 24, 2008 at 9:08 pm | Permalink
  7. Will wrote:

    “All the broken tethers / We can bring together” is my second favorite lyric on MB. It’s a simple, evocative metaphor. A great example of the old “show, don’t tell” rule. (My favorite lyric off MB is actually Beverly Hills’ “When the housemaids scrub the floors/they get the spaces in between,” which I find to be similarly evocative, but a less obvious image to go with. It’s just a great little detail that describes the decadence of the Beverly Hills lifestyle he wants to live.)

    Sunday, August 24, 2008 at 10:42 pm | Permalink
  8. Martin wrote:

    According to iTunes, I’ve heard this Weezer song more than any other Weezer song by a good 30+ plays.

    I once discussed it with a friend and said this:
    (transcript from AIM chat)
    Me: I want to write an essay on Peace, but the weird thing is: I can typically list exactly what it is I love when I talk about a specific Weezer song.

    Him: Yeah?

    Me: I can’t articulate correctly what it is I love about Peace. I don’t know… The feeling I get from Peace is indescribable; like a natural high.

    Him: Hah I guess I know songs like that too.

    Me: If I could capture the feeling peace gives me and put it in a bottle and sell it then I would be a billionaire and there would be no problems on earth. Peace gives me this incredible calm, but it’s sprinkled with this urgent feeling that can’t decide if it’s happiness or sorrow. And the mix is INCREDIBLE. The production on this song doesn’t even bother me because that balance of acoustic and electric is so good. And what a riff dude. The great emotion in the vocal delivery of lines like “My poor brain is gonna pop” and “Counting all the flowers.” (Yes, I do love those lines).

    ——————–

    Then we talked about how much we love the bridge and how the harmonies on Peace are the best from MB (except maybe The Other Way).

    Now I need to go listen to Peace.

    Sunday, August 24, 2008 at 11:09 pm | Permalink
  9. John wrote:

    Good post. I like how you mentioned the offspring as they once said how using ‘whoaahs’ adds a universal appeal that everyone can relate to regardless of language.

    Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 11:04 am | Permalink
  10. PKMN Trainer Red wrote:

    Well, I guess I’ll have to be the one to break up the love-fest on this one. To me, “Peace” is the embodiment of everything that’s wrong with Make Believe. It’s a song with a great sentiment, and if it were executed better, it really could have been a hell of a song. But as it is, it’s a lazy toss-off with the meaning tacked onto it as an afterthought.

    First of all, that chord progression. I’m all for power through simplicity, but I’m sorry, this is not the case with “Peace”, much as it isn’t the case with “Troublemaker”. I think Make Believe takes the cake for the album with the least variety of chords from song to song. And again, with a song like “Say It Ain’t So”, it works. Here, though, it just doesn’t. It’s D and B. D and B. Nothing but D and B the whole time until the bridge. Considering the different emotions one should be feeling during this song (situations piling up, longing for peace, eventually fighting for said peace), D and B the whole time shows no sort of variety. It’s just lazy.

    Which brings me to my next point: the bridge. Peegrinder, I guess I’m gonna be that guy. The bridge in “Peace” is the laziest moment Weezer has ever committed to tape. It does nothing to “bring the point of the song home,” nor is it “purposed/thematic.” The whoa-oh chorus of “Perfect Situation” shows Rivers breaking down, crying out for help. The “whoa-oh” bridge of “Peace” shows that Rivers thought the song didn’t have enough parts, so he added a few vocal runs in there. It does nothing to further any part of the message of the song, and anyone who thinks it does is kidding themselves on account of the lyrical narrative not doing the entire job it should be doing.

    My last major problem with this song is that it’s the epitome of everything Weezer does wrong these days: It is the ultimate let’s-correct-the-last-album song. Every Weezer album fixes a few little details in hopes that they found the one magical component of a song that will make their fans like their music again. Maladroit corrects Green’s lack of solos and variety, Red corrects MB’s lack of creativity and life. With “Peace”, as with most of MB, Weezer set out to try and correct Maladroit’s lack of emotion. What they forgot, however, is to take that emotion and make it into a good song. (Another point of interest that lends to my theory is the fact that – hey – why not tune down a half step again and throw in some acoustic guitars! They liked us when we did that, right?)

    All in all, “Peace” is not a very good song. As Art Vandelay said, I do sort of enjoy Cuomo’s vocal delivery here, and at the end of the day I might even place it in the better half of Make Believe. But unfortunately, that doesn’t mean much.

    Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 1:59 pm | Permalink
  11. Soyrev wrote:

    I think there’s something meditative about its repetitive chord progression (more of a one-two step than a progression, really), that fits in with the theme of the song. Am I dumb enough to believe that such was intentional? No. But the shoe fits, so I have no problem wearing it. The instrumentation and presentation also varies enough to mask the song’s simple, repetitive foundation. The switch from electric rock guitars to pretty acoustics, the presence of the pentatonic riff and the absence of it, etcetera etcetera.

    “The bridge in “Peace” is the laziest moment Weezer has ever committed to tape. It does nothing to “bring the point of the song home,” nor is it “purposed/thematic.” The whoa-oh chorus of “Perfect Situation” shows Rivers breaking down, crying out for help. The “whoa-oh” bridge of “Peace” shows that Rivers thought the song didn’t have enough parts, so he added a few vocal runs in there. It does nothing to further any part of the message of the song, and anyone who thinks it does is kidding themselves on account of the lyrical narrative not doing the entire job it should be doing.”

    I really don’t see a difference between the Make Believe whoa-ohs here. On “Perfect Situation,” he does it to convey his loneliness — “whoa-oh, how lonely I am.” On “Peace,” he does it to convey his mindframe — “whoa-oh, how I do long for inner peace.” Same shit, different song — my own problem is that it’s the same band doing it, on the same album. Were I to choose which instance I prefer, or find more believable, it would be “Peace.”

    I also think the lyrical narrative of the song conveys its meaning pretty clearly, with or without the whoas. As I expressed in my original writeup, I think the lyrics of the songs could have been expressed better (especially in the verse), but that’s because I think they’re too directly general. However, it does further the message of the song, or at least reiterate and strengthen it — you can not like it, but to say that people who do like it are merely misunderstanding the song or “kidding themselves” is unnecessarily cyncial. I have no problem applying that logic to especially ridiculous opinions (this leading to the “are some opinions more right/valid than others?” debate), like Cuomo having said “How Long,” as a song, scorches the entirety of Pinkerton (this coming from an RCB quote), but enjoying the bridge of “Peace” as part of the song’s lyrical theme is certainly not one of those.

    “My last major problem with this song is that it’s the epitome of everything Weezer does wrong these days: It is the ultimate let’s-correct-the-last-album song. Every Weezer album fixes a few little details in hopes that they found the one magical component of a song that will make their fans like their music again. Maladroit corrects Green’s lack of solos and variety, Red corrects MB’s lack of creativity and life. With “Peace”, as with most of MB, Weezer set out to try and correct Maladroit’s lack of emotion. What they forgot, however, is to take that emotion and make it into a good song. (Another point of interest that lends to my theory is the fact that – hey – why not tune down a half step again and throw in some acoustic guitars! They liked us when we did that, right?)”

    I loved this paragraph because it is true, so true. It’s unbelievable that the band can still be so out of touch with what makes them great, even after four efforts that have each, in their own time, been called a “transitional” record, or a “stepping stone.” They’re always fixing something about the last record, but then also forgetting what that record did right — and they’re always using the past record as the model, when they really could just go study Blue, or Pinkerton, or at this point, even Alone. TRA goes and corrects MB’s “lack of creativity and life,” as you say, but then forgets several key Weezer strongsuits (Cuomo’s solos, Cuomo’s voice, Cuomo’s songwriting), and the general fact that albums should work as a cohesive whole (something TIK, CDW and “Automatic” all obliterate, and that’s not just because of who’s singing them). I mean, at least this time we got 3 or 4 songs out of the deal that I would put on par with the 90s heyday…but even that’s a compromise, as only one of them comes from the album itself. Sigh…

    Tangent! In any case, Red, I do agree with most of your points and, overall, would agree that “Peace” could be on an entirely different level if it had been approached better. But as it stands, it’s one of MB’s few salvagable tracks in my opinion, and despite the shortcomings of its context, is quite a good song at its heart.

    Either way though, I’m glad this one finally roused you from the stands to join us. Your insights and articulation are some of the best around, so I hope you become a frequent guest.

    Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 4:30 pm | Permalink
  12. PKMN Trainer Red wrote:

    I guess what I’m really trying to get at regarding the bridge is that the “whoa-oh” chorus in “Perfect Situation” makes a lot more thematic sense to me than the bridge in “Peace”. In “Perfect Situation”, I can see Rivers, frustrated, lonely and not sure how else to get his feelings out, submitting to a wordless “whoa-oh” chorus for lack of any other way to express himself. In “Peace”… I guess an argument could be made that he’s doing essentially the same thing, but I don’t know. To me, there’s something frantic and urgent about the “Perfect Situation” chorus. The “Peace” bridge just seems like a run – up, back down again, repeat. There’s no urgency, there’s no real motivation found in it – and this is a song that actually has a pretty emotional vocal delivery. It really does just feel like another part in the song, rather than a logical continuation of the theme.

    Thank you for the kind words! I always mean to reply, but usually find myself too busy. I always enjoy what you say, though – I often feel the exact same way, and even when I don’t, I have to put forth an effort to argue!

    Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 9:55 pm | Permalink
  13. Jason-From A6 Boards wrote:

    I think Peace is good. But not as fantastic as others here.

    Monday, September 1, 2008 at 6:34 pm | Permalink
  14. Ace wrote:

    Mind-blowingly sterile.

    Friday, October 3, 2008 at 12:53 pm | Permalink
  15. Melack wrote:

    I’ve always been skeptical about this song.

    But I don’t know what happened tonight.
    If it was my state of mind, the hazy night och just the chaos that is my life right now but I totally fell in love with this song.

    The production might not be perfect, but damn that opening riff is so in your face and just great.

    And as you mention in this post but something that I haven’t noticed before.

    Cuomos voice! He sings with passion, he sounds like he’s into the song! He evokes feelings!

    Also like you said this song with a Pink or Blue production would have been one of the very best for sure even considering the slightly cheesy lyrics.

    Totally deserving “Grand Playlist” even if I didn’t use to think so, infact until tonight this song was rated with two stars only on my media player.

    Just had to go back and read/bump this blogpost because of my new found love for this song.

    Sunday, March 8, 2009 at 4:43 pm | Permalink
  16. Soyrev wrote:

    Yeah Melack, I didn’t really appreciate this one till I wrote this post. Better than I remembered it.

    Sunday, March 8, 2009 at 4:51 pm | Permalink
  17. OOS wrote:

    I just went back and listened to Peace, then had a craving for some MB (strange, I know), and i’ve realized that this isn’t actually a horrible album. It’s not great, no, barely even good, but not horrible. About 5 songs are absolutely fantastic, Peace among them.

    Anyway, Soy, what song here do you think better’s Peace? Personally, I would put PS, TISAP, and TOW above it, but which one were you talking about when you said that it wasn’t MB’s standout?

    Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 3:34 pm | Permalink
  18. Burgess wrote:

    I don’t understand at ALL why this is considered the worst Weezer album by so many. I think everyone should really sit down and listen to these things through one more time.

    Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 2:36 pm | Permalink
  19. Soyrev wrote:

    OOS, from forever ago: I’m not quite sure, and that’s probably why I never replied to begin with. Make Believe is murky territory for me, I never know exactly how I feel about it. But the two best on the disc, in my opinion, are “The Other Way” and “The Damage In Your Heart.”

    Burgess: Having said that, none of the songs, individually, are all that bad — except “Drugs” and “My Best Friend,” definitely two of the worst ever. Other than that, the songs run the gamut from okay to pretty great — it’s just that, for whatever reason, the album it all adds up to is really offputting. It has to do with the production, that painful mix, the weird combination of the really juvenile lyrics and the return of Cuomo’s impassioned vocal delivery…But I think more than anything else, there’s always been the feeling that this record could have been a lot, lot better, which at the time was a novel concept. Red and Rad have the same issue, but Maladroit and Green were roughly as good as their respective eras could have possibly made them be, so I think that sting is still in a lot of fans’ minds with this album.

    Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 3:51 pm | Permalink
  20. ThomYorke wrote:

    Haunt You Everyday is in my top 10 post Pinkerton songs, even with its less than perfect production. I enjoy The Other way and Damage in Your Heart too, but they don’t anywhere close to HYED for me.

    It actually sounds authentic. I really don’t feel like Rivers is bullshitting his way though HYED, that fucking guitar solo is phenominal. NOBODY gives that guitar solo any credit, and it’s one of those perfect, concise solos that they used to nail all the time. The vocal delivery really feels genuine too. I LOVE the chorus.

    When I heard it live in ’05, it fucking floored me. I was at the concert at the Aragon just a couple days before MB came out, and I hadn’t heard the album at all yet. I thought MB was going to be a true return to form after getting to hear the full power of this live.

    How can you not love the outro too with Rivers voice and guitar dueling?

    Man, HYED fucking rocks. Most Under-rated Post Pink song ever.

    Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 4:19 pm | Permalink
  21. Soyrev wrote:

    I like it more than I used to, definitely. I wouldn’t call it a classic solo, but it’s a very cool one. Pales in comparison to the two more recent closers for me, but it kills “December” and isn’t too far behind “O Girlfriend.”

    Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 4:24 pm | Permalink
  22. Burgess wrote:

    I get why people wouldn’t like this album. From the horrible album cover to the obnoxious singles to the production, etc. But I really don’t get why it constantly gets ranked under all of the other super flawed Weezer albums. This is the post-Pinkerton album that makes me cringe the least, I think.

    Friday, November 6, 2009 at 11:35 am | Permalink
  23. Cesar wrote:

    The problem with most of MB is that it sounds so contrived and forced. Peace and HYED are wonderful songs, but Christ almighty, the lyrics….

    I still put Peace among the best PP material, but is there anything that can be done about my poor brain is gonna pop? It’s not so much that lyric, but the way he delivers it. Same with HYED. The last minute of that song is an aural masterpiece, but I cannot get over the lyrics. For an example of a song with a similar feel, but much better lyrics, and is thus much more successful, see The Angel and The One.

    Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 3:55 pm | Permalink
  24. yim_yecker wrote:

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what’s said of “Don’t Worry Baby” in the Alone II booklet. Rivers writes:

    “I loved the oblique motion of the main melody line moving around within the more static background melodies. And the verse melody totally knocked me out- “Well it’s been building up inside of me for, oh, I don’t know how long” -the wild combination of long and short notes, straight and syncopated rhythms, articulated and melismatic phrases, the big leap down a fourth and the leap up a minor 6th. This seemed to be the exact type of melody that I wanted to write and that I felt destined to write: grand, operatic, dramatic, Romantic.”

    This is why I think songs like Peace work. It’s beautifully amazing how much control the band displays in this song. Dull as it may be, if there were more than two chords, attention would be lost from vital moments such as the “Eastern Asia” riff, Rivers’ emotional lyrics, as well as all of the solid vocal work throughout the entire piece.

    Monday, June 14, 2010 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

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