Skip to content

Seafaring Jamb

What a weird little tune. “Seafaring Jamb” is another in the Maladroit-era series of “jambs” (see also: the rather snazzy “Burndt Jamb” and the frankly awful “Zep Song” a.k.a. “Zep Jamb“), and it’s kind of in the middle of the bunch when it comes to quality. Like all the “jambs,” the song’s title does not appear anywhere in the lyrics, but it’s easy to see why they chose it: the circular little riff at the tune’s heart resembles a sea shantey in its own way, bobbing up and down as though along the ocean waves.

There are three versions of this song that I possess. The first is from November 8th, 2001 — a live version that was semi-officially released on Weezer.Com as part of the two-disc, download-only Extended Hyper Midget Tour document. The lyrics are a bit esoteric, with a one-line chorus that trails off, “I’ll tell you my weakness…” (Hence the song’s alternate title, “My Weakness”) The structure is otherwise founded on two verses, which go:

Everybody, don’t make me laugh
‘Cause it’s not so insane
In the morning it comes to pass
And there’s no one to blame

And if you knew the things I’ve seen
Then you’d have to believe
In the spirits above the sand
And the man in the tree

Say what? Then again, there’s a sort of mysterious quality to the lyrics that intrigue — it feels like there’s more at play here than Rivers Cuomo’s usual Maladroit-era rambling and non-sequiturs (read: bullshit). Plus, there’s some pretty neat imagery at play here: “the spirits above the sand,” “the man in the tree.” It’s all delivered in a rather fine melody that is, while not particularly inventive or interesting, enough to carry along the song. Scott Shriner does some neat bass riffs in the second verse, and there’s enough subtle variation going on to build up a pretty cool little aura.

Then there’s that bridge. The guitars rise up, Pat Wilson handles the ride cymbal in an almost jazzy way, and Cuomo commands with noticeable passion: “Tell me to stay / Need me to stay.” The solo runs up and down the fretboard a bit, and it’s pretty swell. The repetition of the bridge is a bit unnecessary in a quick song that clocks in just over a minute and a half (hey, I’m a Guided By Voices fan — the shorter the better, sometimes!), but it’s not a huge fault. This is a serviceable performance of a pretty okay song.

The song was, to my knowledge, then attempted twice for the Maladroit sessions in early January 2002. The version from the 9th is pretty similar to the live take, albeit with a far lesser solo that meanders aimlessly before getting cut off by a repeat of the brief chorus. It also adds an outro that is more or less dead weight and does little to aid the song. The version from the 12th adds a second guitar harmony to the main riff (making it even more of a seasick melody), and Shriner adds some pointless backups-for-the-sake-of-backups to the verses (ah, Maladroit) — but damn, this solo might be the best of the lot. Still, that pointless outro is here reprised, which works to the cut’s detriment.

My favorite version is probably the live take — as seems to be a theme of this era in the band’s history (hell, the entirety of the post-2000 era, really), the less the band thought about these tunes, the better. But that’s also the problem here: “Seafaring Jamb” feels half-baked in the typical Maladroit way; there’s just something missing. It’s crazy to think that the song was actually mixed and mastered and very nearly officially released on the album (though I wouldn’t mind hearing that outtake, for the hell of it).

Albumsix.Com forum member Baby Britain did a pretty good job of remedying the issues at hand. On the first A6 Boardie Tribute Album, he delivers a cover that transposes the song’s riff to a sleepy acoustic, buts out some pretty chords on the chorus, and replaces Brian Bell’s backing vocal tracks with a honey-voiced female backup that really does the trick. Oh, and his deuling acoustic solo takes this dream of a cover even deeper into Rapid Eye Movement bliss. He even makes a slightly altered version of the outro work quite nicely. Getting ahold of his version wouldn’t be an easy thing at this point, I don’t think, so I’ve done a nice thing and uploaded it for all to download easily: check it out, right-click save as.

Development, development. Just the thing Maladroit mostly lacked — especially considering that when the band tried, the song in question almost inadvertently regressed. As the Weezer version stands, “Seafaring Jamb” is  an inoffensive and mildly enjoyable song that, in my estimation, comes up short for a lowest-rung placement on the Grand Playlist.

37 Comments

  1. ThomYorke wrote:

    For Mala-era works, this has always stood out as one of my favorite. Not mind-blowing, but good, and memorable.

    The live cut is by far the best edition of the song; Rivers voice actually sounds like it has a little conviction in there. One has to remember that during this period of time, that knocked your socks off.

    The guitar swell has always been a favorite of mine too with Brian/Rivers really kind of putting some hurt on those strings for a great effect.

    Although arguably incomplete like much of the Maladroit pieces, this one has managed to still stand the test of time for me. I still enjoy listening to it these many years later.

    Not their best work, but far from the worst, and I believe it’s enjoyable enough to keep in any Weezer play list.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 9:59 am | Permalink
  2. ThomYorke wrote:

    Oh, and I’ve always loved the “That was wicked” you can hear Rivers say after the crowd applause. It gives the recording character, I suppose.

    One more thing! This song is yet another example of Rivers assembling a reasonably good song that’s still only a whopping 2:00 minutes. That’s a skill in and of itself. It’s no under 2 minute masterpiece ala YGYLTMS, but hey, Rivers skill at writing short memorable songs is often overlooked.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 10:06 am | Permalink
  3. Soyrev wrote:

    Actually, per the live version, the music stops earlier than that. The song is actually around 1:40. Remove that extraneous second bridge and it’d be 1:20, 1:25.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 10:09 am | Permalink
  4. ThomYorke wrote:

    Good point; that’s even more impressive.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 12:13 pm | Permalink
  5. NoobcakesMcGee wrote:

    Love the rapid fire posting lately soy!

    This song is alright I guess (although Baby Britain’s version makes the melody seem much prettier though, especially w/ the female vox). It’s another of the Mala-era weird songs to me. I don’t particularly like them very much, but placing them all together (Space Rock, Don’t Pick On Me, Jambs, Cygnus, Sandwiches, Do You Want Me To Stay) paints an interesting portrait of Rivers’ songwriting at the time. Most of the songs I just listed in no way hold up to Weezer classics, yet their sheer bizzare nature makes the Mala era the black sheep of Rivers’ songwriting. Head to head, stuff like Don’t Let Go or DIYH kills Space Rock, but something about the absurd spacey sound of the era brings me back to it over and over.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 12:28 pm | Permalink
  6. Art Vandelay wrote:

    Sorry, I can’t get on board with this one. It was clearly just jammed out in 3 minutes. Songs like this are a total embarrassment… I feel like most of it’s fans would not give a shit if it were not Weezer. It’s boring.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 1:32 pm | Permalink
  7. HMC wrote:

    I hadn’t actually gotten around to listening to this one before I read this entry. I think you hit the nail on the head. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but there’s something moderately enjoyable about it. I don’t know if it’s just because of the name, but this seems like one of the more picturesque Weezer songs I’ve heard. It’s not like any I’ve heard before.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 2:22 pm | Permalink
  8. s.o.s. wrote:

    never really got into this song, but for the sake of the blog, I’ll listen again tonight.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 6:04 pm | Permalink
  9. runnersdialzero wrote:

    The same thing I say about just about every song from this era: There’s some potential in there, but it’s never realized.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 6:18 pm | Permalink
  10. OOS wrote:

    I just realized that I haven’t listened to any Mala demos other than Sandwiches Time (which is freakin awesome) and the answering machine demo of Broken Arrows (which is meh).

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 7:35 pm | Permalink
  11. Soyrev wrote:

    Meh? Meh!?

    What the fuck!

    I do love “Sandwiches Time” though, I’ll agree with you there.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 7:57 pm | Permalink
  12. MyNameIsJason wrote:

    I too would give it a “meh,” but I guess that’s for a later comment-sesh.

    I’d agree with ThomYorke on this – the song does succeed in standing out from the mass of garbled shit that is the Mala demos. Looking back on the sentence I just wrote, I really don’t think the songs are shit, but it was way too fun to think up that sentence and not type it. My favorite part of this song is definitely the “And if you like it there…” line.

    But I’ll be damned, Baby Britain’s version is better than any of the Weezer versions we have. This song works beautifully as a melodic, slow, “bobbing up and down as though along the ocean waves” song. The Weezer versions we have are way too chunky and rawk-y.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 9:10 pm | Permalink
  13. Soyrev wrote:

    “The mass of garbled shit” — haha, I like that phrase. Good one.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 9:11 pm | Permalink
  14. NoobcakesMcGee wrote:

    I’m with ya on the Broken Arrows love (at least the lo-fi demo recording). I think when they tried to record a band version they lost some of the melancholy tone in the process and it turned into bland Mala rawk.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 9:20 pm | Permalink
  15. Soyrev wrote:

    It sounds like a perfect classic Guided By Voices jam. Can’t wait to write about that one.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 9:21 pm | Permalink
  16. NoobcakesMcGee wrote:

    Also (slightly off-topic): Are Broken Arrows and I Admire You So Much the only two “answering machine” demos or are there more we haven’t heard?

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 9:22 pm | Permalink
  17. Soyrev wrote:

    I would imagine there are many more. “I Admire You So Much” is even more classic GBV goodness! I love that shit!

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 9:25 pm | Permalink
  18. NoobcakesMcGee wrote:

    Man, if there are more…. Maybe I’m just a sucker for GBVish lo-fi Rivers’ recordings, but I’d take a whole album of those for A7. I really hope more of these see the light of Alone/Odds and Ends releases.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 9:27 pm | Permalink
  19. MyNameIsJason wrote:

    Has it been discussed before that the third “we go” at the end of the chorus of Broken Arrows is the same exact lyric (“go”) and same exact note as the opening lyric of Don’t Pick on Me/Big Chip (“go with the flow…”)? Sing both of them – they leik totes sownd teh same!

    If I knew how to play guitar and bass, I could sing, and I had a means of recording what I played, I would totally blend those two for an A6 tribute album.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 9:35 pm | Permalink
  20. Art Vandelay wrote:

    Man, soy, i know you have a boner for those answering machine clips, but i’m going to have a field day ripping into those when they come up. fair warning.

    Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 12:34 am | Permalink
  21. ThomYorke wrote:

    Haha. I like your style, Art.

    Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 9:18 am | Permalink
  22. OOS wrote:

    Just listened to it, and I really like it. I love the riff, its great.

    Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 5:33 pm | Permalink
  23. Soyrev wrote:

    Art: Meh. I know “I Admire You So Much” is no great shakes, but I just think it’s really cool to hear Cuomo in vintage Bob Pollard mode — and it’s pretty cool to boot. “Broken Arrows” is, however, a great fucking song and anyone who doesn’t like it A) has lo-fiphobia, or B) is listening to the fucking Maladroit sessions.

    OOS: Love is a strong word for this song, but it’s all right. I’d give it 2 or 3 stars on the Patented iTunes Rating Scale.

    Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 5:38 pm | Permalink
  24. OOS wrote:

    I just really like the contrast of the melody and the bobbing riff. I don’t know, I guess I just wasn’t expecting much because it’s in the much-maligned Maladroit era, and I actually liked it.

    Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 6:32 pm | Permalink
  25. Art Vandelay wrote:

    oh my god, ‘great fucking song’??? We shall have much to discuss when that “song” turns up.

    Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 6:50 pm | Permalink
  26. Soyrev wrote:

    Sure! Study these in the meantime.

    Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 6:57 pm | Permalink
  27. Chuck wrote:

    ………………….NEXT.

    Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 7:58 pm | Permalink
  28. Soyrev wrote:

    Speaking of which Chuck, I’m very pleased w/ the next 10 or so songs that are coming up here. Good mix.

    Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 8:07 pm | Permalink
  29. Melack wrote:

    I’m also a “Broken Arrow” answering machine version lover.

    But yeah the Mala version pretty much blows all the quality in the song out in the sea.

    Friday, March 6, 2009 at 6:03 am | Permalink
  30. Melack wrote:

    Oh and a question to Soy while I’m at it.

    Since you have shown great taste for good music in this blog and is a known lover of Guided By Voices I’ve become very curious to check them out.

    Which album should I start with to get hooked?

    Friday, March 6, 2009 at 6:10 am | Permalink
  31. NoobcakesMcGee wrote:

    Melack – I listened to Alien Lanes first and loved it, but Soy is the expert, so I’ll defer to him.

    Friday, March 6, 2009 at 10:11 am | Permalink
  32. Soyrev wrote:

    Melack: I’ll have a good answer for you soon! 😉

    Friday, March 6, 2009 at 1:26 pm | Permalink
  33. Soyrev wrote:

    Melack, to answer your question:

    http://revenant.squarespace.com/blog/2009/3/9/20090309.html

    Listen to those tracks at the end…what sounded better to you, the lo-fi stuff (“game of pricks,” “zoom”) or the more produced stuff (“life is beautiful,” “redmen and their wives”)? Or maybe none of it sounded any good to you? In which case forget about it, ’cause while I’d say that Bob has about 100 songs as good or better than these, these are total Pollard classics at least in my book…

    Monday, March 9, 2009 at 7:36 am | Permalink
  34. Soyrev wrote:

    I realized we’re getting pretty off-topic of “Seafaring Jamb” and Weezer in general here, so I moved your comment to the Revenant thread and replied there, Melack. Hope you don’t mind.

    And I just found out today about Weezer’s “Black Album,” and apparently this song was on that. I really want to hear it!

    Monday, March 9, 2009 at 8:29 am | Permalink
  35. Will wrote:

    I never liked Seafaring Jamb. It struck me as monotonous. Then you drop Baby Britain’s arrangement. The female backing vocals are a stroke of genius.

    Tuesday, March 10, 2009 at 10:07 am | Permalink
  36. MyNameIsJason wrote:

    Weezer’s “Black Album?”

    What?

    Seafearing Jamb wasn’t on Lifetaker’s thing, if that’s what you’re talking about.

    Sunday, March 15, 2009 at 1:22 pm | Permalink
  37. Soyrev wrote:

    I made a thread about it on A6 recently. It’s on this page.

    http://weezer.com/info/recording/WeezRecHist13.htm

    Sunday, March 15, 2009 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *
*
*