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Hey M’Darlin’

Good to finally get another song to discuss from Rivers Cuomo’s 1997 sideproject, Homie. Like “Hot Tub,” Cuomo demoed the song years before resuscitating it for his “goofball country” outlet — in fact, this one was written as early as 1991, the same year Cuomo wrote wildly different songs like “The Answer Man” and “The World Has Turned And Left Me Here.” Perhaps there was something about the Californian summer that inspired him to write something a little more southern, something with a little more twang and drawl. Unfortunately, it looks like we may never get to hear that version of the tune — which was then called “I’m Your Man” — or the Boston demo that Cuomo recorded on his DA-88 in September of 1997. The Homie rehearsal tape made later that year contained another version of “Darlin'” that likely involved guitarist Kevin Stevenson, bassist Drew Parsons and drummer Fred Eltringham, but has also yet to surface. Parsons and Eltringham played on the unreleased Homie album that band historian Karl Koch claims was recorded later that year, but that project remained unmixed and has to date been misplaced. Cuomo himself has even contradicted Koch’s word, claiming that only drums were ever recorded for the project — perhaps he’s just chosen to forget it, seeing how his faith in just about anything he wrote from Pinkerton up through The Green Album has always been scarce.

So what’s that leave us with? A hiss-drenched tape of Homie’s first show, 11/4/97 at the Middle East venue in Boston. That said, it remains pretty easy to hear the details of most everything in the composition. A sudden drumroll propels us directly into the opening chorus, Cuomo and Stevenson partaking in some lovely down home harmonies on the title lyric. From there, we go into a spitfire verse unlike anything else from the early Weezer period in both its strange lyrical bent and its amelodic construction: “Well the little man came and sat down on my knee / Picked my nose and said ‘what’s up!’ / Well the big man came and sat me down on his knee / Picked his nose and said ‘heads up!'” Cuomo raps over a three-note riff that could’ve been inspired by the vocal melody from “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.” The pre-chorus is an effective transition into a very pretty tune, as Cuomo sings, “Got no clothes! / No candy treats / I’ll be damned if I am the candy man / But baby got me down on my knees.” This takes us back into the chorus, and the song repeats this cycle before breaking into an awesome call-and-response solo between a bright keyboard figure and one gritty, wranglin’ rodeo lick of guitar.

It’s very rare that I’ll take a moment to mention a cover of a Weezer-related song in these pages, but forum member Runnersdialzero deserves much credit for his brilliant studio version of this song. It’s a very faithful version that liberates the listener from the poor quality of the live Homie bootleg, and Runners’ expert performance does the trick so nicely that it would *almost* be acceptable were we to never hear a clearer version of this song from Cuomo himself. The drums are tight and punchy, the keyboard soundfont seems to match the one Homie used that night perfectly, the guitar solo is a carbon copy of Stevenson’s, and Runners might even do those chorus harmonies better than the band could have. It’s a marvel to hear, and I do hope someone drops a link in the comments section so that the uninitiated might be able to enjoy.

But to conclude with Cuomo: this is, like the dirty minimalism of “Lover In The Snow” or the misogynistic white-boy funk of “Hot Tub,” further evidence that Cuomo was experimenting with the many different shapes and facets of his muse long before the outspokenly eclectic stylings of The Red Album, and with far greater success. This one is remarkable not only for its quality as a song, but also for the fact that nothing else like it exists in the Weezer/Cuomo discography. Songs From the Black Hole get all the hype, but a quick and dirty release of the old Homie record might be even more worthwhile.