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I Do

In 2001, Weezer was poised for a comeback. The past year had been one of changes for the band, who had returned from three long, stagnant years to play their first “reunion” tour to rapturous applause and surprisingly sold-out audiences. These shows offered the debut both of a replacement bassist, Mikey Welsh, and of a new, streamlined sound in a batch of songs that would later become known as the Summer Songs 2000. The vast majority of those compositions would be rejected during the band demo process — be it by the label or the group themselves — and Rivers Cuomo would further streamline his songwriting into the catchy (yet deliberately nondescript) Green Album. Cuomo had recently finished writing the material for that album with “Knock-Down Drag-Out,” the late-2000 song that would be the last to make the cut for the album, although a few more would be attempted for the sessions.

The last of those attempts — and the very first song Cuomo wrote in 2001 — was “I Do.” Then untitled, the song went from conception to studio recording to official release in the span of just four months, when it was issued as the b-side to the US versions of the “Hash Pipe” single. Before then, “I Do” had served as an understated introduction for the band’s pre-Green live tour. Spare, slow and mournful, it was a clever way to dilate the audience’s senses for the onslaught of emotive power pop to come (which, in most cases on this tour, would begin with either “My Name Is Jonas” or “Photograph”). These nights would be Weezer’s last as crowd-pleasers par excellence: they had a fanbase, that fanbase’s desires were clear, and the band was well-positioned to deliver on them. As soon as Green dropped, Cuomo initiated a period of antagonizing his audience, often playing long sequences of nascent Mala-dreck and Green deep cuts before offering the audience even a taste of what most of them had come to hear (Cuomo’s stage banter during this time was also bizarre, at times taunting his crowd for what they wanted and what they were instead going to get). To wit, there’s a 6/21/01 bootleg of the band playing in Dortmund, Germany, wherein the band masochistically subjects the audience to 11 such songs before playing any pre-2000 material at all. The cathartic applause that greets the opening notes of “Only In Dreams” sounds like hard-won euphoria — but then the band only plays the 3-minute instrumental climax of the song, before dragging the room back into the mire with “Take Control.” (The band never played Dortmund again; probably no one who paid for this gig would mind.)

In the Weezer discography, “I Do” is an anomaly in just about every way. It is the first piano-based song that the band had ever released (Cuomo later claimed that “Haunt You Every Day” was the first song he wrote on the piano, but that is probably incorrect), and the simplicity of its arrangement had only thus far been surpassed by “Butterfly.” It sounds unlike anything on Green, and even less like anything Cuomo was writing during this time (“Keep Fishin’” was written just two songs before “I Do,” and Cuomo would quickly move on to pen “American Gigolo”). Despite clear superficial differences, “I Do” more closely resembles the spirit of the Weezer of yore than most else the band has done in the new millennium. The song begins with a pained squall of guitar (sanded by classic Weezer feedback), quickly giving way to Cuomo’s lonesome voice and keys. He sings with unapologetic emotion and remorse (something that only vaguely came to the surface on Green with “O Girlfriend”), with the simple refrain: “You told me that you’d always love me.” The strange guitar figure that opened the song returns for a brief, wailing solo, Cuomo repeats the chorus, and adds the concluding resolve: “Never more again / Will I believe the sun.” A beautiful song, and beautifully concise: it comes and goes in two minutes flat.

Sadly, the song bears blatant resemblance to Billy Joel’s “Leningrad,” as Cuomo takes what Joel used as an introductory theme and uses it throughout his own song (verbatim). To be a Weezer fan is to forgive such theft with some frequency, but this is one of the more glaring examples in the released Cuomo oeuvre – an unfortunate blight on one of Weezer’s best songs post-Pinkerton.

21 Comments

  1. Adroit wrote:

    I initially despised this song as it came to my attention as the bonus track on my UK Green Album and seemed to spoil the 10-track Weezer album ‘format’.
    For all its faults, that record was nevertheless an almost vacuum-packed unit in its conception and production, so ‘I Do’ could not help but feel like it was tacked on to provide the retailers with an Exclusive! sticker on the jewel case.

    I always used to want records to be released in accordance with the bands vision for it, not fucked around with poor bonus tracks.

    But of course this was not one of them.

    I think that the poor run towards the end of the Green Album (Simple Pages, Glorious Day, O Girlfriend – this is where the production becomes a serious earache for me) tainted my appreciation of the track which followed of it.

    I guess it was a grower for me. It only took 8 years to ‘get’ it!

    Beautiful song.

    Wednesday, September 3, 2008 at 12:50 pm | Permalink
  2. Scott wrote:

    Absolutely beautiful song. I’ve always said that if they reissued Blue with this as the intro to “Jonas” (as they performed on the Yahoo! Outloud Tour in 2001), I would easily re-buy the album. The way this track closes, followed by the feedback building into the opening riff of “Jonas” is damn-near perfect and blew me away when I saw them on that tour. I wish they would bring this song back into their set (along with “The Christmas Song,” another gem from the pre-Green tour days).

    Wednesday, September 3, 2008 at 1:12 pm | Permalink
  3. Me wrote:

    “almost as soon as Green dropped, the band began a period of almost antagonizing its audience….etc”

    This isn’t a fact. You could say “it could be implied that the band were antagonising the audience”, but you can’t implicitly state that they were. I’d trust your analysis more had you actually been there, rather than just noted they’d cheered for OID.

    Wednesday, September 3, 2008 at 4:14 pm | Permalink
  4. Art Vandelay wrote:

    Me- It’s fact. Here’s a direct Rivers quote from that GW interview: [“I’ll fuck with them sometimes. I’ll start to play one of those Pinkerton songs, they start to cheer and then I’ll bust into one of my gay pop songs.”] Rivers was WELL aware of what he was doing, and knew his fanbase (at the time) was majorly unhappy with the new material.

    Ok, back to the main subject:

    I think my first exposure to this tune was via some of the tour videos Karl used to put up during that Outloud tour.

    I have mixed feelings about it. I love the sound of the wurlitzer piano, especially mixed with the distorted guitar touches. And initially, I thought the melody was pretty nice. The Billy Joel thing ruined that aspect for me once I learned of it. It’s pretty shameless.

    Rev, I’m going to disagree with you on the vocal delivery. I think, other than a bit of reverb, it’s really no different than any other song from these sessions… and they’re all pretty atrocious in the vocal department.

    As for what I think about the lyrics… I’ll spare you a rant about that ‘Games you play’ lyric that got recycled ad nauseum in that era, and instead give you another quote from that GW interview which illustrates:

    [GW: If you were growing up now, would you be into Weezer or would you be into nu-metal?

    Cuomo: I’d think Weezer were a bunch of fags.]

    Wednesday, September 3, 2008 at 6:01 pm | Permalink
  5. Soyrev wrote:

    Thanks for getting my back, Art — I forgot about that ridiculous quote. (Anyone have a bootleg of Cuomo “faking out” an audience with a false Pinkerton intro?) I will have to disagree with you, though — whether or not you like the vocal delivery, I think it’s pretty clear that he’s singing with emotion here. It’s not just a matter of going through the motions.

    Also, Adroit, it also took me a damn long time to really appreciate this song. But now I really, really love it. I may even consider it for a “Very Best Of”…hmmm…

    Wednesday, September 3, 2008 at 7:38 pm | Permalink
  6. Jason-From A6 Boards wrote:

    I had never heard Lenningrad before, but I was completely shocked when that came on. Even though I love I Do, hearing that really changed the song for me. At least it’s Billy Joel, who is the bomb.

    And it’s a shame this wasn’t on the domestic Green. Would have been a great closer.

    Wednesday, September 3, 2008 at 10:16 pm | Permalink
  7. Jonny wrote:

    For once I have to disagree with the praise this song seems to be getting. Except for the beutiful distorted guitar intro, I don’t like anything about this song. Don’t think I’ve ever heard the Billy Joel tune in question. Anyway, I Do is not close to being among the worst Weezer songs, but in my book is definitely on the minus part of the scale. I’m one of the little bitches growing up with Blue and Pink (being 16 when the latter came out, still can’t get over the impact) though, so I guess I’m extremely sensitive. I am able to enjoy parts of Green, however “I Do” is not there though.

    Thursday, September 4, 2008 at 6:31 am | Permalink
  8. Soyrev wrote:

    Yeah, the “Leningrad” debacle definitely takes away from the quality of the song. I’ve decided that this disqualifies this one from a potential “Very Best Of” selection — it’s just too blatant.

    That aside, it’s up there with one of the best songs since Pinkerton, though. Like someone said before, the live sequencing of this one as an opener, feedback leading into MNIJ, it’s just so perfect. Re-releasing TBA with this one tacked on at the beginning? Well, I can’t say I would go that far…but that’s a great 1-2 punch that would be cool for the band to revisit someday.

    Thursday, September 4, 2008 at 1:44 pm | Permalink
  9. tapegun wrote:

    agree with so much of above – love the intro and it’s just a green song that’s just “there” (well that describes most of the album in so many ways)… although “always” is much worse.

    i deleted if off of my computer awhile back.

    Thursday, September 4, 2008 at 2:53 pm | Permalink
  10. PKMN Trainer Red wrote:

    I like “I Do” alright, but I’m not sure if I agree with all the praise everyone’s giving it. That guitar intro is way fucking cool (especially for a Green song), and the piano chords and tone are really interesting, but… meh. I don’t feel that it’s as well put together as the actual songs that made TGA (as well as a select few that didn’t) are. As far as my “dream” TGA goes, I’d leave it mostly intact… I might switch the sequencing around a bit, and I’d add “O Girl” and “The Christmas Song” on, but other than that, I like it just fine the way it is. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If TGA was the worst album Weezer ever made, we’d be in fucking great shape and people wouldn’t look down on it nearly as much as they do. As things stand, it’s the beginning of the end… But if it were in between Pinkerton and another great album, it would just be the band’s “pure pop” stage and it would be appreciated as a simple “pure pop” album.

    Tangent! Anyway, “I Do”. I agree that the “I Do” – “MNIJ” live intro was cool. But I don’t really think anything of it beyond that and its unique place in Weezer’s catalogue.

    Afterthought: I never knew about that show! That’s too funny. Where can I find that setlist? Maladroit-era Rivers is, hands down, my favorite Rivers. Least favorite Weezer, but favorite Rivers. The Guitar World interview is a classic. Oh, and I believe I had a bootleg once of an “El Scorcho” false start going into… “Simple Pages” or something like that. Unfortunately, that was many computers ago and I no longer have it. Sorry!

    Thursday, September 4, 2008 at 5:02 pm | Permalink
  11. Soyrev wrote:

    Red, always making great points. Had TGA been followed up well, the record (and the band) would have remained very, very respectable. But indeed, it was only the first installment of an ongoing series of suck…At least TAATO and a few of the TRA Deluxe bonus tracks showed a wealth of promise (though their relegation to essentially “outtake” status is as disheartening as ever).

    As for the Dortmund, 21 June 2001 setlist:

    1. Burndt Jamb (Instrumental)
    2. Photograph
    3. I’m Not In Love With You
    4. Simple Pages
    5. High Up Above
    6. Don’t Let Go
    7. Island In The Sun
    8. American Gigolo
    9. Crab
    10. Keep Fishin’
    11. Hash Pipe
    12. Only In Dreams — Solo
    13. Take Control
    14. Knock-Down Drag-Out
    15. Undone
    16. Buddy Holly
    17. Surf Wax America

    It’s pretty crummy, except that’s my favorite version of “American Gigolo,” probably. gumbytom uploaded the show here: http://www.mediafire.com/?z5mzczvukqd

    Thursday, September 4, 2008 at 5:21 pm | Permalink
  12. PKMN Trainer Red wrote:

    Wow. That is absolutely ridiculous. What’s “I’m Not In Love With You”? I assume that’s just something that got renamed later, I can’t imagine there’s a Weezer song out there I’ve never heard of…

    Thursday, September 4, 2008 at 5:33 pm | Permalink
  13. Soyrev wrote:

    I don’t even know. It may be what eventually became “Zep Jamb” — either way, it’s a hatefully shitty song.

    Thursday, September 4, 2008 at 5:35 pm | Permalink
  14. GumbyTom wrote:

    Geez…I forgot all about that threat on the a6 request board. Am I to blame for all your vitriol against the mid-’01 setlists? 😉

    For some reason, probably because they started off with I Do during the Outloud tour, I always envisioned I Do starting off Green, rather than ending it (with Always closing the album). It’s a nice little song that packs a lot into its running time.

    I think (and even though he wrote this after the rest of Green) that was the theme for that album- efficient songs that packed a lot into a short amount of time. Which worked in some cases, but fell flat for others.

    Thursday, September 4, 2008 at 8:33 pm | Permalink
  15. tapegun wrote:

    soy – not to beat a dead horse but i think you might consider writing up a post on the green and red albums as they “could have been”. i know technically this is a songblog – but it’s meaty enough and I think could produce some nice discussions…the idea isn’t novel but the quality of comments here could make it more interesting than the usual run-of-the-mill “might have been” discussions).

    maybe you could write it once you’ve written on all the green and/or red tracks..???

    anyway, i missed the blog when you were busy. although i had forgotten how young you are (i was like “wait 13 in 2002?!?) i am teaching “kids” your age and i wish they all wrote so well.

    Thursday, September 4, 2008 at 9:03 pm | Permalink
  16. NoobcakesMcGee wrote:

    I just listened to the Dortmund concert….the Buddy Holly they played I think what would’ve happened if Buddy Holly was written for Maladroit, especially the first verse. I really hope they play a better version for the upcoming tour.

    Saturday, September 6, 2008 at 1:32 pm | Permalink
  17. Soyrev wrote:

    I regret to inform you, Noobcakes, that the band was playing that bastardized BH as late as the ’05 tours. It probably won’t be changing anytime soon (though I sincerely hope it will!).

    Saturday, September 6, 2008 at 2:03 pm | Permalink
  18. will wrote:

    “i do” would’ve made a great album opener too.

    i really hope “burning sun” gets released at some point. that 30 second clip is just killing me in its incompleteness. that neither of these made the US cut of the green album is just sad. who’s making these decisions? they need to be fired promptly.

    Sunday, September 7, 2008 at 11:05 pm | Permalink
  19. Soyrev wrote:

    We actually have a whole minute of “Burning Sun” — and boy, is it ever a golden minute!

    I don’t think it’s like this with every album (we at least know the band did whatever the fuck they want with Maladroit), but Karl made a very public spectacle over how the label continually disapproved of recordings for TGA. Would Cuomo have preferred “Burning Sun” or SS2K on TGA? Or even “I Do”? I’m not sure, but I can’t imagine Geffen demanded “Crab” make the album and not “O Girl.” Also, even if Pinkerton tanked, TBA was one of Geffen’s biggest successes of the ’90s. I’m sure if the band put “Hash Pipe” and IITS and maybe “Don’t Let Go” or “Photograph” on there, they could’ve sequenced the rest of the album however they damn well pleased, with a little bit of arguing.

    So maybe Cuomo really did think the ten tracks we have for TGA were the best option, out of the 150, 200 songs he wrote for it?

    Monday, September 8, 2008 at 7:35 am | Permalink
  20. Martin wrote:

    It’s a good song. Rivers sounds rather nasally on this tune. It’s one that’s solid, but I’ve never appreciated it as a favorite.

    Monday, September 15, 2008 at 4:02 pm | Permalink
  21. cesarsalad wrote:

    If you look at the setlists for the shows in Europe around that time, they’re all pretty shitty.

    Monday, November 24, 2008 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

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