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She Who Is Militant

This one stems from the earliest of sessions for Make Believe, which actually began in 2002, before Maladroit was even released. Considering none of these songs made the final album (and because the sessions have a very distinct sound not at all like the album for which they were initially recorded), fans have copped to calling them the Early Album 5 demos. That’s how I’ll be referring to them, as well.

“She Who Is Militant” is one of the songs that was attempted on the very first day of recording (3/08), a project that ran for months before being scrapped entirely. Rivers Cuomo was really changing things up and challenging himself in trying to write very un-Weezery lyrics during this era, and I think this song contains some of its weirdest lines: 7/02’s version features the refrain, “Oh, if you ever grow your brain / I’ll be there, I’ll be there,” while 7/16 (with completely rewritten lyrics) has lines like, “Little children don’t appeal to you and your cowboy ideal,” and “I need a tissue for my nose.”

Some analysis reveals that this is a song about a girl who simply isn’t interested in a relationship right now: most tellingly, the 7/02 version begins, “It looks like you were never going to be my queen / It looks like there are too many places that you want to see.” It’s not a particularly good one: from the overwrought lyrics to the ham-handed riff to the uninspired vocal melody. The 7/16 version is distinguished for having a decent harmonized guitar solo and the best mix of the bunch, but even then I find precious little to salvage “She Who Is Militant” – a reminder that even some of the most intriguing Cuomo titles attend completely uninteresting songs.

Strangely enough, Cuomo marks “Militant” as having been an early version of Make Believe single “This Is Such A Pity,” but the musical relationship between the two is very thin – over the course of three years and many rewrites, little more than the general chord structure remains intact.

In all, the Early Album 5 demos marked a period of Weezer branching out into uncharted territory, with quite a few misses for every hit. “She Who Is Militant” is one of those failed experiments.

14 Comments

  1. Martin wrote:

    I really prefer the Beauty School version of this song, which I find to be a much more revealing song. I consider the beauty version to be a commentary of Rivers at that point in his life. And like Running Man, it’s an excellent commentary.

    Rivers is questioning what the point of anything is. “Drinking forties, ’till you pass out in your trailer at five” is a line directed at the touring life.

    “What’s the point of washing clothes? Things need war.” A great commentary of Rivers in his almost destructive songwriting form. It’s saying, ‘why clean up anything? It’s just going to get ruined again.’

    In my opinion the greatest line of all the album 5 demos is, “Getting older is beginning to give me a panicky feel. Little children don’t appeal to you and your cowboy ideals.” Directly referencing his relationship with himself and the fans, Rivers is saying that he’s really starting to feel the itch of growing old, as evidenced by his smoking, drinking, sex, and desire for a more metal sounding rock. To the fans he says, I need to do this for myself, I need to branch out, I need to switch it up, but it’s not appealing to the kids (listeners).

    Later, this song became “On Your Own”. I’m curious as to where that song ended up. The title could either be a more relationship based song like the ‘queen’ version, or it could be a more introspective version like the ‘beauty’ version.

    Tuesday, July 29, 2008 at 8:19 pm | Permalink
  2. Soyrev wrote:

    Martin, wasn’t “On Your Own” an earlier version? Because in the end, this apparently wound up as TISAP.

    Tuesday, July 29, 2008 at 8:22 pm | Permalink
  3. Art Vandelay wrote:

    Another thing I’d make not of is how ill-conceived and irritating Brian and Scott’s attempts at BGV’s are in the first two demos (7/02 in particular).

    Martin, IMO you’re probably wrong to assume those lyrics are confessional; Rivers was decidedly against putting anything personal in the songs at the juncture this one comes from. Like the rest of the tunes from these sessions, it’s just another dumb little vignette without much of a point to it.

    Tuesday, July 29, 2008 at 8:31 pm | Permalink
  4. Fro wrote:

    I actually have always felt this was one of the better songs from this bunch. I think that this has possibly come up before in some thread of weezer message boards of old (and maybe that’s why I think of this), but doesn’t it appear that the 7/16 version’s lyrics could actually be coming from a female perspective? In the first verse the singer describes someone getting drunk in the middle of the day. Next, she(?) laments about washing clothes and how it brings her(?) warmth. Perhaps the character is wondering what the point is in washing clothes for a slob getting drunk in the middle of the day? Really, for me, the biggest piece of evidence for this possibility comes with the lines “getting older is beginning to give me panic/you feel little children don’t appeal to you and your cowboy ideal”. This is pretty clearly (to me) an older female worrying that time is running out to have kids with this guy who wants to be a lone ranger. Finally, “I need a tissue for my nose/a kiss or two and then let go/so long” would be the woman deciding to move on from the current love interest (perhaps pursuing beauty school?).

    That could honestly be a reach, especially since the lyrics are somewhat unclear in places and it’s the only version where they can be found. As mentioned in the original post though, Rivers was indeed experimenting with writing stories and from different perspectives with some of these songs. Regardless, it’s a nice little riff and I have to say that even years later after not listening to the song much, I’ve found that “I need a tissue for my nose” line/melody popping into my head.

    Tuesday, July 29, 2008 at 8:31 pm | Permalink
  5. Running Monk wrote:

    i love this ong. particularly the “beauty school” version (though i always think of it as the “drinkin’ forties” version). i also think “Getting older is beginning to give me a panicky feel. Little children don’t appeal to you and your cowboy ideals.” is one of the best lines from this session and that at least the second version is from a female perspective.

    Tuesday, July 29, 2008 at 9:25 pm | Permalink
  6. Soyrev wrote:

    Perhaps you two are right, and there’s a bit more going on here than I’m giving credit for (w/ the possible female perspective), but I still think it’s just not any good. Aside from the mental image of Cuomo slamming back Colt45, I can’t find any reason to revisit this song. A lot of people’s favorites from this session have yet to click with me, to be honest.

    Wednesday, July 30, 2008 at 8:57 am | Permalink
  7. Sick Nick wrote:

    This was never a favorite of the A5 demos for me (that honor would goto the organ player and mo beats). These songs all are def a follow-up to the maladroit era of weezer meaning if maladroit sound was going to define weezers new sound these songs would have been the progression of that. In the end i’m glad he scrapped this stuff and took some time to re-collect himself as these songs were pretty heartless and lyrically bland. they do remind me of summer of 2002 though.
    my only guess as to how She who is Militant became this is such a pity is that Rivers liked the title then tried applying a song of that title to the TISAP music before changing they lyrics to what has become TISAP. we’ve seen it done before with So Low and Mansion of Cardboard ect.

    Wednesday, July 30, 2008 at 5:45 pm | Permalink
  8. GumbyTom wrote:

    I go back and forth with SWIM. Some of the lyrics are actually good, but others are just out there and seem to have nothing to do with the song.

    It seems like this song was always halfway finished (about some independent chick Rivers was pining after) and Rivers was always searching for a way to wrap it up.

    And then, overnight, it became TISAP.

    Wednesday, July 30, 2008 at 6:42 pm | Permalink
  9. Soyrev wrote:

    Word to that, Sick Nick. “The Organ Player” is fantastic…and “Mo’ Beats” is at least fun(ny).

    Agreed about this song being unfinished. A lot of Early A5 feels really half-baked.

    Wednesday, July 30, 2008 at 7:38 pm | Permalink
  10. noobcakesmcgee wrote:

    Alright, has anyone discovered why this song is related to TISAP yet? Has anyone tried to e-mail Karl about this (even though it’s a pretty insignificant little fact, I’d be interested to know)? I’ve listened to it a few times and can’t really find anything at all.

    Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 11:41 pm | Permalink
  11. charlie wrote:

    Sorry I haven’t taken a music class in ages and I’m probably misusing the terminology, but here goes.

    The thing I’ve discovered so far is that you can sing the lyrics of each song on top of the other (so the chord changes happen at the same times and at similar intervals) but so far that’s it.

    Example: start singing “I know how to pick on you…” when the “Ohhhh when you go to beauty school” and whatever the lyrics are of the first verse. It works for the whole verse and most of the chorus.

    TISAP is definitely in a different key, but the progression and chord changes seem to be the same.

    Friday, November 20, 2009 at 7:47 pm | Permalink
  12. charlie wrote:

    Looks like Sick Nick pretty much said what I did already. Oh well.

    Friday, November 20, 2009 at 8:10 pm | Permalink
  13. Soyrev wrote:

    Considering this song has more alternate titles than any other song in the COR (as far as I can tell), it probably just morphed so many times that certain elements held over each time, while others got discarded. After five or six different iterations, it’s no surprise that there’s precious little of “She Who Is Militant” in “This Is Such A Pity.”

    In relistening, this song is slightly better than I remember it being. Still not worth any kind of vaguely regular rotation, but it’s at least a little interesting.

    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 2:23 pm | Permalink
  14. OOS wrote:

    After giving this one a couple more tries, I actually really like it. I love the backup vocals.

    Saturday, October 2, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

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