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O Girl

Not to be confused with Green Album closer “O Girlfriend,” this song surfaced live during the initial reunion tour in the summer of 2000, and was briefly considered for that same album (funnily enough, the era also produced a song called “Girlfriend,” which has nothing to do with “O Girlfriend” or “O Girl” — it has yet to surface). The song was issued on the semi-official, free MP3 Summer Songs 2000 compendium, a live collection of songs from that era. The fact that only one of these songs actually made Green (“Hash Pipe”) speaks to Rivers Cuomo’s ridiculous spate of productivity during this time (caveat: “Dope Nose” and “Slob” were both later rehashed for Maladroit).

The official SS2K version is a blistering live performance — to again reference Brian Bell’s “Hard Day’s Night meets Helmet” quotation about this rehearsal period, the verses do actually sound like a hard rock take on early Beatles, and the chorus does have a dark bent to it. The harmonies that introduce the song are a bit weak here, but on paper they’re fantastic: Weezer has always been a very talented vocal band, and the absence of these kind of touches would be sorely felt on Green. Bassist Mikey Welsh’s falsetto nod to original foil Matt Sharp on the chorus is particularly fitting.

The lyrics are of the typical Green era love song formula, but despite their simplicity they’re actually quite good. I especially enjoy the chorus: “Oh girl, I thought you were a flirt / And too shallow to get hurt / But now, I see in your eyes / The pain that can’t be just lies / You’re like me.” The three-part vocal arrangements in this song are at their best here, elevating the sentiment’s effect.

The solo is perfect – clearly predating the Green period during which Cuomo decided to simply echo the vocal melody with all of his (very brief) guitar spotlights. The fact that this is just one more fine feature in a song that is, less the brief intro, here and gone in approximately 1 minute and 50 seconds, bespeaks a concision not heard since “You Gave Your Love to Me Softly.”

There’s another live bootleg (of considerably worse fidelity) in circulation on a fan-made compilation that has been dubbed “Unofficial Live SS2K” in some circles. It’s not particularly remarkable, aside from being a little less trim. There’s also the studio demo that we have (from May 3, 2000, a date that produced four songs — all of which we’ve heard, other than “You’re Fun to Play With”) balloons to a considerably longer 2:40 — clearly before Rivers decided it was worth truncating. Pat Wilson does great work on this version, with some particularly incisive cymbal work, and many of the chorus guitar leads are more developed (and audible). The exclamatory “yow!” right before that classic Weezer duel guitar solo is a nice touch, too. This demo, along with the official SS2K live cut, are the definitive versions of those we have to date.

Also, going back to all these Mikey-period songs and relistening to them with a decent subwoofer makes me realize just how perfect he was for the band. Here he does a cool little riff at the end of every line, which really helps fill out the arrangement and give it more of a propulsive verve. Discounting the sentimental associations with Matt Sharp (and the fact that he played during the band’s best creative period), Welsh is arguably the best bassist Weezer ever had.

Everything Green should have been? Absolutely.