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Crab

“Crab” is arguably the worst song on 2001’s The Green Album. As such, for a time many fans considered it the worst song Weezer had ever released. This impression outlasted its tenability (which expired by the next year’s Maladroit), though for most, Green‘s value has appreciated to a point where even its slightest cut is a fan favorite.

Whatever Green lacks in dynamics, it makes up for with a pointed lack of dynamics. It is, like The Blue Album or Pinkerton, a remarkably focused record. But while those two albums boast variations on perfection for their 10-track runtimes, Green expends itself on mathematical, unrelenting homogeneity. If Blue is grass-fed, open-range brilliance, Green is pasteurized attention to detail. As it turns out – and as no (understandably) disappointed fan could have guessed back in 2001 – that ages pretty well.

Granted, Green isn’t entirely monotone: “Island in the Sun” is one of the great melancholy summer songs of all time, and “Hash Pipe” makes the majority of the endless Maladroit sessions seem all for naught — it’s the best the band has ever done in reconciling the grace of a Beatles-worthy melody with metal’s cynical sneer.

“Crab” is not one of those deviations. Musically, it’s as formulaic as most else on Green (perhaps with a little more of a bite), but irritates a bit per its use of a corny flange pedal and gratuitous lead vocal delay. Then there’s the matter of the  lyrics, which stand as the most extreme example of Cuomo’s anti-personal writing approach in the Green era. As he recently explained to Pitchfork:

[With Green] I was writing songs literally. I was writing lyrics without having any subject in my mind. They were words coming out of my mouth; I didn’t know where they were coming from.

Lines like “Crab if you need it / She put her knickers on,” and “No, crab at the booty / T’ain’t gonna do no good” (or maybe that’s “taint”…;_;) certainly sound meaningless, and foreshadow the nonsense to come on Maladroit (most of Green‘s free association is drawn from love song cliches, which usually makes them easier to parse). But there is a bit of admirable storytelling going on here between the dada details – particularly in the lines “She said she’s feeling lonely / And I say that’s okay / She won’t be coming back ’round here, no way,” which have a kind of bluesman concision to them. The song also features some of Pat Wilson’s best (i.e., most liberated) drumming on the album, and the dark sound and sentiment are a nice counterbalance to brighter moments like “Knock-Down Drag-Out” and “Photograph.” It’s not hard to hear why this was bassist [2015 update: and dearly departed rock god] Mikey Welsh’s favorite Weezer song he ever got to record.

Interestingly, while the officially released version clocks in at 2:35, the early leak of The Green Album reveals in hindsight that “Crab” used to be one verse longer (trimming it down must have been part of the last-minute slimming of the album — generally a great call, as it is here). There’s also a live version that was (inscrutably) the first track on a special French promo CD that also included a live “Don’t Let Go” and a non-remix remix of “Always,” as band historian Karl Koch explains:

this cd was originally intended to be packaged with the Green Album in France, as a special bonus cd shrinkwrapped to the main CD. Apparently the French record company decided the promotion wasn’t necessary due to the Green Albums success in France, and the idea was scrapped. However, a small amount of the actual promo cd [was] in fact pressed. The live songs are from the Extended Midget Tour, the Always ‘remix’ is the same mix as the b-side found elsewhere.

This live “Crab” take features a better solo, a drum count-off that might have rickrolled a few audience members into thinking they’d get to hear “Tired Of Sex,” as well as Brian Bell and Scott Shriner on backing vocals, if only be necessity (Cuomo insisted on singing all the vocal parts in the studio). Cuomo also fumbles with his guitar for a bit afterwards and, in typical Mala-asshole mode, complains that “our [guitar] tech is determined to ruin me.”

In conclusion, here are two funny quotes about to “Crab.” The first one is from the 2006 Fan Interview with Rivers, featuring our very own commenter, Gumbytom:

Is there any meaning at all behind Crab? (If so, what is it?)
—Gumby Tom [sic]
Columbus, Ohio

A heterosexual guys [sic] sexual frustration with a particular girl.
—Rivers Cuomo

And then, this botched bit of stage banter, with Spinal Tap self-parody:

You thought the crab would at the booty…er, do…you good. But it t’ain’t! Know what I’m saying?
—Cuomo-san, 5/23/02, Club Zepp (Osaka, Japan)

18 Comments

  1. ThomYorke wrote:

    This is one of those very rare times where I like the melody of song so much I completely ignore how ridiculous the lyrics are that I’m singing along with.

    Crab. Can’t live with it, can’t live without it.

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009 at 4:46 pm | Permalink
  2. CrippyBoy wrote:

    The song always struck me as a three-way hybrid of “O, Lisa”, “Sugar Booger”, and “Brightening Day.” I suppose that’s just one of the weird disorienting effects of such a uniform songwriting approach. Barring “O Lisa”, I actually prefer those two over “Simple Pages.” Yes, I’m well aware of your dislike of “Sugar Booger”, but I find it damn catchy. Also, “Smile” is one of the top three songs on TGA to me. Trust me, listening to a Japanese cover full of Engrish makes you really aware of the song’s beauty. Whew, talk about going off on a tangent!

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009 at 5:11 pm | Permalink
  3. OOS wrote:

    For me, Simple Pages is third worse. Aside from some neat moments in the solo and chorus, I don’t like it.

    My ranking of the Green tracks would probably be:

    1. IITS
    2. Smile
    3. O Girlfriend
    4. Hash Pipe
    5. Photograph
    6. KDDO
    7. DLG
    8. Simple Pages
    9. Crab
    10. Glorious Day

    Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 9:06 am | Permalink
  4. ThomYorke wrote:

    I too must admit that I find “Sugar Booger” incredibly catchy.

    Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 12:39 pm | Permalink
  5. OOS wrote:

    To be honest, I think that all the Green b-sides are really catchy (including O Lisa).

    Friday, July 10, 2009 at 11:02 am | Permalink
  6. ThomYorke wrote:

    Are we all closet Green B-Side fans? Considering this blog is named “Teenage Victory Songs,” I might be on to something!

    🙂

    Friday, July 10, 2009 at 11:51 am | Permalink
  7. CrippyBoy wrote:

    Nothing closet about it. A good song’s a good song. I’d venture to say we’re fans of most of their b-sides anyway. I can’t think of a band who does them better.

    Friday, July 10, 2009 at 1:00 pm | Permalink
  8. OOS wrote:

    I think that Muse has more consistent b-sides (though nothing approaching Devotion or WOY quality), and Queens Of The Stone Age has some gems in there (Infinity in particular). But yeah, Weezer b-sides are probably the most interesting, if only because they’re so strange. I just wish they would start releasing more: the b-sides to Red were covers, MB and Mala got none.

    Friday, July 10, 2009 at 3:18 pm | Permalink
  9. Soyrev wrote:

    Mala did get “Living Without You,” which scorches 95% of the album itself.

    Saturday, July 11, 2009 at 7:36 am | Permalink
  10. OOS wrote:

    Oh yeah, I forgot about LWY. Still, only 1.

    Saturday, July 11, 2009 at 10:19 am | Permalink
  11. waitingandwaiting wrote:

    What was with the lack of b-sides, there was plenty of material. Even though the quality was poor, at least for mala, would it not be worth it for the promotion. The lack of extra songs just isn’t right for make believe when we know that there was album quality songs finished. Did the band ever give reasoning for it?

    Saturday, July 11, 2009 at 11:43 am | Permalink
  12. Soyrev wrote:

    Some interviewer asked the band and I think it was Scott who said, “I think the whole point of b-sides is that they aren’t good enough to be put on an album, so what’s the point?” Paraphrase.

    Saturday, July 11, 2009 at 5:07 pm | Permalink
  13. ThomYorke wrote:

    He’s clearly unaware of how good their old b-sides are.

    Sunday, July 12, 2009 at 10:56 am | Permalink
  14. Christofski wrote:

    Crab is underrated. There are some much worse Weezer songs out there.

    Monday, July 13, 2009 at 7:33 am | Permalink
  15. waitingandwaiting wrote:

    I only just noticed that this had Rivers ‘singing’ over the guitar solo, like a bastardised el scorcho

    Monday, July 13, 2009 at 11:40 am | Permalink
  16. Poprocks wrote:

    Crab is one of my favourite tracks on the album. And Green is my 2nd favourite Weezer album after Pinkerton. I just *love* the effortlessly catchy feel of it.

    I was in Weezer denial for many years. I always enjoyed their singles, but I never really got into the band. When I popped in my brother’s copy of Green and heard Don’t Let Go, I was completely hooked. My only disappointment was that Hash Pipe and Island in the Sun disrupt the flow of the whole thing. To this day, those are the two tracks I often skip when listening to Green.

    For my money, the album would have been even better if Hash Pipe and IITS were replaced with two of Teenage Victory Song, Sugar Booger or Starlight. They’re all great songs that fit the Green vibe.

    Saturday, August 7, 2010 at 1:07 am | Permalink
  17. OOS wrote:

    Eh, I always thought Starlight deserved a spot over something like Glorious Day.

    Saturday, August 7, 2010 at 10:30 am | Permalink
  18. Soyrev wrote:

    Belated addition to the Grand Playlist. There’s not a song on Green that doesn’t deserve it.

    Thursday, November 26, 2015 at 1:30 am | Permalink

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