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I Don’t Want Your Lovin’

You are cool, you are hot
And you know, what you’ve got
You can have anyone
When you call, they will come

But I won’t be a name upon your list
I have way too much pride to go for this

‘Cause I don’t want your lovin’
I don’t want your love
I don’t want your lovin’
I don’t want your love

Why don’t you tell me goodbye?

When I turn you away
You don’t know what to say
Because nobody ever turned you down
Well I guess you had better learn to frown

‘Cause I don’t want your lovin’
I don’t want your love
I don’t want your lovin’
I don’t want your love

Dated 2002. These are the thoughts of a 32-year-old man.

Recently, Rivers Cuomo has explained the schoolyard subject matter of songs like “Troublemaker” by citing his interest in playing with the myriad cliches of pop songwriting: adolescence, school, fame, anti-authority, being a misfit, etcetera. Some might criticize him on this point, as what he does with these cliches is hardly “playing” with them — songs like “Troublemaker” and “Beverly Hills” pretty much embody those cliches, and do precious little to update or subvert them.

“I Don’t Want Your Lovin'” is something else altogether. Everything about this recording screams “junior high songwriting,” from the inscrutably juvenile lyrics to the novice’s guitar line, from the predictable melody to the bedroom recording quality (actually, the one sign that this is the work of a grown man is Cuomo’s voice — which, in its isolated maturity, has a pretty creepy effect). And this isn’t just your average case of arrested development — this is coming from a man who, ten years prior, at the spritely age of 22, was penning songs that bespoke a rare musical depth and lyrical standard (“Purification of Water,” “My Name Is Jonas,” “Only In Dreams,” “Paperface,” “Surf Wax America,” “Say It Ain’t So,” “No One Else,” “Mykel & Carli”…). That was the Rivers Cuomo who aspired to leave rock behind at age 30 and become a classical composer. Here, the 32-year-old Cuomo of 2002 instead composed something you might tell your little brother “doesn’t sound too bad” in comparison to the rest of the stuff on his first home demo.

The song’s sole redemption comes at the bridge (“Why don’t you tell me goodbye?”). It’s the one moment that actually  surprises, a bit, and speaks to some notion of complexity, however aspirational. For the most part, “Lovin'” is a shallow, uncomplicated kiss-off to some pretty strumpet who had the misfortune of thinking Cuomo was kind of cute, a “revenge of the (6th grade) nerd” banality. But here Cuomo shows a hint of empathy — the girl won’t leave him alone, and in this minor-key moment that makes him actually feel something. With a little hum and six words, Cuomo manages to convey a relatively nuanced feeling with concision. It’s a respite musically, as well.

Sadly, there’s little else going on here. The number of voice cracks, tripped up tempos and flubbed notes alone make you wonder how a musician and one-time auteur of Cuomo’s caliber could possibly commit this to tape, let alone dry-heave it upon his audience. Thank heavens no form of this song was ever officially released (even though the Recording History lists roughly a dozen full-band, electric takes in 2003! what the fuck!?), but I find it strange that Cuomo himself went out of his way to leak this to fans online. Pretty much everything here, from songwriting to recording to performance, sinks this one near the very bottom of Weezer’s septic tank.

[An update: In 2010, Weezer indeed released one of those full-band electric versions on the updated outtake collection Death to False Metal. With thick beds of backing harmonies, a surprisingly distinct guitar solo segment, an impassioned performance from the band, and a groovy instrumental outro that sounds like a muscular Steely Dan, it’s about as good as a Weezer version of this song could be – but the mix is cramped, the edits are slapdash, and the song’s systemic shittiness limits its redemption to the leagues of mediocrity.]