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No One Else

With a sudden onslaught of poppy, distorted guitars, a rush of lyrics about love and loneliness, and some truly fantastic falsetto harmonies provided by bassist Matt Sharp, this track embodies all that is great about Blue Album-era Weezer. Rivers Cuomo’s lyric is one of the most cleverly understated of his career, as he pines, “I want a girl who will laugh for no one else / When I’m away she puts her makeup on the shelf / When I’m away, she never leaves the house.” The song sounds triumphant on first listen, but there’s something undeniably sad about the way Sharp’s weeping falsetto accompanies Cuomo’s confident lead, as if the echo of an abused girlfriend. It’s not till long after Cuomo tears into one of his finest solos that the casual listener realizes just how disturbingly misogynistic this little pop tune is.

That facet of the song really came to the fore when the band played a live acoustic version of the song for a radio station on one of the tours following the release of the album. Officially released in 1995 as a b-side to the “Say It Ain’t So” single (and, later, as a track on disc two of the 2004 deluxe edition of Blue), the spare arrangement of acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies brings the song’s eerie subtext to the fore. With only a couple minor fluffs in the performance, the acoustic version is just as essential as the studio version.

Other notable versions of the song include its appearance on November 1992’s “The Real Demo” (made three months after the fan favorite “Kitchen Tape” demo), which shows that the song was pretty much finished long before it was recorded — the performance is identical outside of a bit of added vocal countermelody at the very end of the performance. Also, Cuomo’s Boston-based sideproject Homie played a somewhat countrified version of “No One Else” as something of a crowd pleaser at their few live performances. The one that the fans have, dated 11/4/97, features an added upstroke rhythm guitar, and a delectably southern-fried solo.

38 Comments

  1. Melack wrote:

    I agree with everything you say.

    I’d like to add one thing I love about the song.

    As you said the solo is pure gold. One thing that makes many of Rivers solos so greats is that he manage to speak with he notes and capture the whole feeling of the song.

    He also got these magic moments leading up to many of his solos. In this one it’s his vocal performance just before the solo, “And if you see her, tell her it’s over NOOOOOOW!!” and bam the solo comes in and capture the feelings of what he just sung.

    Monday, July 14, 2008 at 5:16 pm | Permalink
  2. soyrev wrote:

    Yeah, great call. It’s just like in “Suzanne” — “Suzanne…I’m your man.” And then, bam! Solo kicks in and perfectly encapsulates (and elevates) the mood of the song. Those early Rivers solos were always so emotive.

    Monday, July 14, 2008 at 5:34 pm | Permalink
  3. Dennis Moore wrote:

    Right on the mark.

    The one thing that really stands out on this song to me is the “Watch her, watchher, watcha!” right before the last chorus. It’s one of those “orgasm moments” that are all over Blue (Buddy Holly, Holiday, and others that I’m too lazy to remember). It’s a technique that completely vanished from Rivers’ songwriting (to a large extant) as early as 1995.

    Monday, July 14, 2008 at 7:42 pm | Permalink
  4. GumbyTom wrote:

    This was the song that as I listened to the Blue Album for the first time hooked me forever. Jonas was great, but the melodies and power of No One Else knocked me over.

    During the ’00 tour, for a short while, the band played an extended intro (like the one they added to Buddy Holly) which was just the first few lines of the verses repeating softly. I was a fan of this, but for some reason it didn’t stick.

    Something I always found interesting about No One Else was from it’s entry in the Recording History. Karl mentions that there was “debate” over whether to even play the song in public. A few years ago, I e-mailed him, asking what the debate was about. His response was:

    “Is this song too ‘pop’, too ‘commericial’ sounding? There were some reservations about going in that direction, as opposed to sticking with a more heavy/pixies sorta thang.
    The funny thing is… in a way, this debate has in some ways always stuck with the band in one form or another, regardless of their actual level of commercial success.”

    Personally, I’m kind of glad they went this way.

    Monday, July 14, 2008 at 8:18 pm | Permalink
  5. Soyrev wrote:

    First of all, in general, to clarify a website thing: if it is your first time commenting, your comment won’t hit the web till I screen it and approve it as not-spam. From there on out, all your comments will appear on this site immediately.

    Dennis: Good call on that, although I do think Pinkerton achieved even higher heights of “musical orgasm” (haha, ugh…lame terminology, but it gets the point across) via use of accidentals, sour notes and feedback. The off-key chant of “THIS IS BEGINNING TO HURT…” at the end of “Getchoo” is one of the most simply affecting things I’ve ever heard. But, we’ll get to that sooner or later.

    Gumbytom: Thanks for the fantastic input. Does anyone have an mp3 of the ’00 version of “No One Else”? I’d like to hear that. Meanwhile, speaking of which, the way they introduce “Buddy Holly” nowadays is fucking vile. They really need to cut that out — it’s been, what, 8 years now?

    Also, the Karl correspondence on this one is pretty fascinating. I, too, am glad that Weezer accepted “No One Else,” thereby facilitating the move to the overall TBA sound. Songs like “Paperface” are fucking great, but I appreciate ’90s Weezer as we know it a lot more than I would a quality Pixies imitation.

    Monday, July 14, 2008 at 8:25 pm | Permalink
  6. Martin wrote:

    To really understand how important this song is to weezer, one need only read the comment Karl made in the recording history:

    “No One Else, a song that started to steer the band in a previously invisible direction.”

    No One Else is the song that paved the way for further Blue album classics like ‘Buddy Holly’ and ‘In The Garage.’ In three short minutes, No One Else created the sound of the Blue Album.

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008 at 10:24 am | Permalink
  7. Soyrev wrote:

    Astute comment, Martin — definitely why I gravitated toward it to start us off for Blue and Weezer itself. It really defines the TBA sound.

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008 at 10:41 am | Permalink
  8. GumbyTom wrote:

    Do you have a halfway decent alternative to RapidShare you prefer?

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008 at 2:50 pm | Permalink
  9. Soyrev wrote:

    YSI, RapidShare, Easyshare…pretty much all the same to me. Fire at will!

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008 at 4:06 pm | Permalink
  10. GumbyTom wrote:

    No One Else, Live from the Cleveland Odeon, 8/30/2000:
    http://www.yousendit.com/download/TTdGanZ0R0Y5bEEwTVE9PQ

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008 at 6:22 pm | Permalink
  11. Soyrev wrote:

    Wow! That intro was fucking great. Go figure — Weezer rewrites the beginning of two great TBA tracks in the 2000 tour, nails one, botches the other, and keeps playing the screwed up “Buddy Holly” nearly a decade on. These guys really have no idea how to evaluate their own work.

    Oh, one thing I liked from the ’90s live versions that is absent here is how Rivers added the “whoa-oh!” to the end of the first line o the chorus. That always made my ears happy.

    Thanks so much for posting that!

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008 at 7:33 pm | Permalink
  12. ...Our Name Is Jonas wrote:

    A few things that make this song brilliant for me:

    The guitar solo. There are actually 3 guitar parts going on. The main solo that they still play verbatim to this day, the rhythm guitar playing the verse chords, and there is a 3rd part playing a counter-melody that really adds to the flavor of it.

    2) How each chorus is different. The first verse you have just the Matt Falsetto vocals going over the entire thing, until the last line when you have Brian coming on to sing a third above Rivers. During the second chorus The Brian part is singing a 3rd above the entire time alongside Matt’s Falsetto Octave harmony. But, in the 3rd chorus Brian switches his harmony to a fifth above rivers, not keeping it to a third the entire time. I thought that was a brilliant little flourish that gave a relatively boring song musically (chug chug chug power chords) some dynamics and a step above everything else. /

    3) During the verse you have The guitar part. For most of it, the guitar and the bass are just doubling eachother until the chord progression starts to repeat itself then the guitar juimps up to a different inversion of the chord (An E/G# chord) while the bass is still playing an E. It reiterates my statement on number 2. It gives the song dynamics and keeps what could have been a boring power chord song, interesting

    Wednesday, July 23, 2008 at 10:54 am | Permalink
  13. Soyrev wrote:

    Wow — fantastic insights, ONIJ. Now I think I better understand exactly why this deceptively simple song is so catchy and satisfying.

    Wednesday, July 23, 2008 at 11:08 am | Permalink
  14. Soyrev wrote:

    An official TVS “The Very Best” selection.

    Monday, August 11, 2008 at 11:49 am | Permalink
  15. Cesar wrote:

    This was THE song that did it for me. The song that turned Weezer from just another band that I liked back in 2000-2001 to “this is my favorite band of all time”. This song DEFINES the blue album.

    Tuesday, November 25, 2008 at 12:33 am | Permalink
  16. Soyrev wrote:

    Man, I know this was post #1, but how does “NO ONE ELSE” have only a few fuckin’ comments? Blasphemy, people!

    Yeah, total classic song. It’s perfect.

    Tuesday, November 25, 2008 at 9:31 am | Permalink
  17. farmerpete wrote:

    5 things I love about this song:

    1)The intro to this song is my favorite pieces of music by Weezer, really by anyone who isn’t named Brian Wilson.

    2)The fact that the vocals in the 1st and 2nd verses come in on a different beat.

    3)The Octave’d guitars in the pre-chorus…hell, they’re everywhere on this song and I fucking love that…not to mention the “artistic feedback” sprinkled throughout the song.

    4)The solo…it’s been mentioned, but still…brilliant!

    5)The last chorus is epic!(the 1st chorus is lethargic, the 2nd starts that way and only begins to open up slowly leading into the pre-chorus right before the solo)…I specifically love that in the last chorus Rivers is singing in a part of his vocal range that is near cracking (and the “no ONE else” at the end! Does that not epitomize TBA?), also Pat’s fill right after “…on the shelf” is one of my favorites on the album.

    Saturday, November 29, 2008 at 2:50 am | Permalink
  18. Soyrev wrote:

    Man, Farmerpete. Great insights all. I didn’t notice that about the difference in vocal pickups between verse 1 and 2, but that’s really cool. And yeah, I love harmonizing guitars so much…absolutely delicious stuff.

    Pat Wilson killed the drums on this record — and only stepped his game up on Pinkerton. It’s a long way off, but it’s really encouraging to see the guy come alive again on The Red Album. Definitely his best drumming in over a decade on that record.

    Sunday, November 30, 2008 at 2:48 pm | Permalink
  19. Allpwrtoslaves wrote:

    why does this only have 18 comments?!?!?

    this song is fucking amazing. i wish to god they would put this back in their live sets. one of my favorite Weezer songs. matt’s falsettos, brian’s back up vocals,that last chorus, oh man. should have been a single.

    Sunday, November 8, 2009 at 11:24 am | Permalink
  20. Soyrev wrote:

    Yeah, it’s an awesome song — and I’m guessing this song has so few comments (thus far? c’mon, people!) because it was the very first post on the blog, maybe before I had much of an audience.

    So many great versions, too. I love the album version, the live acoustic (chilling), the Real Demo version, there’s a 2000 tour live version I have where the band adds a very pretty instrumental intro (and of course they wound up keeping the shitty “Buddy Holly” intro for the better part of the decade instead!), etc. And the Black Sessions, of course. I love any version of this song that has the added “whoa-oh!” in the later choruses.

    Sunday, November 8, 2009 at 11:40 am | Permalink
  21. catfamine wrote:

    For the life of me, I can’t find the interview where Pat disses this song, describing it as being either “wack” or “bunk”. Anyone else recall reading something along those lines?

    Sunday, November 8, 2009 at 2:01 pm | Permalink
  22. allpwrtoslaves wrote:

    oh man i remember that little intro. they got rid of that and kept the buddy holly one! the fools.

    and i think the electric version is actually better then the acoustic, whereas its the opposite for Jamie.

    Sunday, November 8, 2009 at 4:14 pm | Permalink
  23. catfamine wrote:

    Yeah, the sentiment in the acoustic version of “Jamie” comes across a lot more naturally than in the acoustic “No One Else”. NOE still sounds nice in that arrangement, but it starts verging into cheese territory.

    Sunday, November 8, 2009 at 4:39 pm | Permalink
  24. Soyrev wrote:

    The electric version of “Jamie” is actually kinda bad, in my opinion.

    Sunday, November 8, 2009 at 5:10 pm | Permalink
  25. ThomYorke wrote:

    Well I think your opinion of the electric Jamie is kinda bad.

    Sunday, November 8, 2009 at 5:14 pm | Permalink
  26. catfamine wrote:

    What’s your beef with the electric version? Is it the fidelity of the recording or… somthing else entirely?

    Sunday, November 8, 2009 at 5:26 pm | Permalink
  27. brado8 wrote:

    No One Else was definitely the first Weezer tune that grabbed my attention. Such an awesome song.

    Sunday, November 8, 2009 at 5:48 pm | Permalink
  28. Soyrev wrote:

    “Jamie” is another discussion for another day, but the electric version is just a muddy recording of an only passable performance. A lot of its winning qualities get lost in the murk.

    If it weren’t for the acoustic version, I’d never listen to that song. Just like I never listen to “Lullabye For Wayne.”

    Sunday, November 8, 2009 at 7:53 pm | Permalink
  29. catfamine wrote:

    “A lot of its winning qualities get lost in the murk.”

    Agreed.

    ‘…I never listen to “Lullabye For Wayne.”’

    !?

    Sunday, November 8, 2009 at 7:56 pm | Permalink
  30. ThomYorke wrote:

    I love the muddy sound of Jamie; it doesn’t bother me at all. In Fact, that’s part of what makes it such a distictive recording in =w= catalogue. Sure, you have to tune in a little harder ot hear some of the nuiance, but that just gives me another reason to listen to it again.

    The thing about this era’s recordings is that regardless of electic or acoustic, live or studio, the band still sounds like they’re playing with a fire in their gut. No amount of fidelity issues can hide that Jamie is a well crafted song being playing by guys that actually care intensely about their music.

    Monday, November 9, 2009 at 8:23 am | Permalink
  31. Soyrev wrote:

    When interviewed on the radio in 1994, Rivers Cuomo responded to a fan question about what Weezer songs Weezer likes most to play live by saying, “I like playing ‘No One Else’ a lot.” So what was once Rivers’ favorite song to play live has become a song Rivers hasn’t wanted to play live in at least half a decade now. (Was it played on the Make Believe tours? Or do we gotta go back to 2002 for that?)

    Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Permalink
  32. David wrote:

    No One Else is one of the most glaring omissions from the live set. Sure, I can understand not playing it every night, but never?

    Jonas was never a single, and it gets played every night, despite being a worse song to No One Else I think.

    Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 2:09 am | Permalink
  33. ThomYorke wrote:

    There are some great old videos of the band absolutely shredding No One Else.

    I think the band has caught too caught up the whole production of their shows. Do they lack confidence in their material to hold its own?

    Their management should just force them to do a couple of club shows with no frills (except the old skool =w=) and a long set list where the only thing they have to pay attention to is the energy of the crowd and feeding off one another musically to make an entertaining show.

    I would pay handsomely and travel across the entire United States to see that gig.

    Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 8:03 am | Permalink
  34. OOS wrote:

    I dont think clubs (because I wouldnt be let in), but a small venue with a long set list, a good opener, and no frills rocking out is what i’ve been wanting for a while. I even had a set list worked out.

    Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Permalink
  35. Soyrev wrote:

    Yes, some barebones rock club dates would do the band good. (And us, of course!) There would have to be at least 5 Pinkerton era songs played (they go over live so well), at least 5 Blue era (OID an obvious closer, “Holiday” also a must), and beyond that I think some good choices would be…

    “Knock-Down Drag-Out”
    “Hash Pipe”
    “O Girlfriend” (to close the main set or open an encore)
    “Burndt Jamb”
    “Fall Together”
    maybe “Slave”
    “The Other Way!”
    “Everybody Get Dangerous” (live is the ONE place I want to hear it)
    “Dreamin'” (a very fun live song)
    “Miss Sweeney!”
    “Pig” (set or encore closer)
    “The Angel and the One” (set or encore closer)
    “Let It All Hang Out”
    “Tripping Down the Freeway”
    “The Prettiest Girl in the Whole Wide World”

    And maybe some Alone action. Mmm…

    Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 11:26 pm | Permalink
  36. CrazySticks wrote:

    Am I the only one that finds it weird that this song is the only one on TBA that’s in standard tuning?

    Monday, December 20, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Permalink
  37. AF wrote:

    No, I’ve always thought that was weird too.

    Do they play it in standard tuning live as well? I haven’t seen them live since 1996, but I don’t remember Rivers swapping guitars for that song back then.

    Wednesday, December 22, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Permalink
  38. andybedingfield wrote:

    I’ve noticed too but I usually just play it in half step anyway, because that suits my voice. If im not in half step, I’m usually using a capo or something other than standard to sing most anything, or at least another key.

    Wednesday, December 22, 2010 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

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