“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]
A heterosexual guys [sic] sexual frustration with a particular girl.
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)