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The Spider

I’m often accused of hyperbole on this here songblog, and I will concede that these claims aren’t always inaccurate. But this is one grand statement I can truly stand by: “The Spider” is the most misunderstood song Weezer has ever released.

As the third of four “Deluxe version” bonus tracks for 2008′s Red Album, “The Spider” follows on the heels of “Standard” album closer “The Angel and The One,” “Miss Sweeney,” and “Pig” — a pointed string of what are arguably the best Weezer songs officially released since the ’90s, and tough company to keep for any song Rivers Cuomo has written and bothered to share this century. Many die-hard fans (and who else went for the Deluxe?) have dismissed this track as an out-and-out failure, a waste of space and something that was wisely kept off the main album. But I write today to maintain that “The Spider” deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the other three truly great Red-era tracks that precede it.

It begins uniquely for a Weezer song, with a lone acoustic guitar adorned by several sheets of blanketed synth drones. Sharp listeners will notice a little turn in the arpeggiating line that recalls the way the acoustic guitar from “Butterfly” reaches out for something that isn’t there. As with “Pig” before it, Cuomo’s lyric ponders mortality via personification of an inhuman living thing — in this case, the titular insect. Spiders have inspired relatively experimental Cuomo compositions before — preceding album Make Believe’s sole left fielder, “Freak Me Out,” and as-yet-unheard pre-Weezer sketch “Spiderbitch” — but “The Spider” stands out for being further evidence that The Red Album could have pretty easily been a very satisfying and mature commentary on the graying years of life. (Instead of its reality, a rather facile collection of half-realized songs and alleged “Weezer” “music” such as “Cold Dark World.”)

Following “Angel” and “Pig” — two songs that, despite their unconventional structures, retain fairly immediate and obvious intentions — it’s all too easy to characterize “The Spider’s” dense text and infinite space as being formless and unrefined. After all, both of those prior songs climax quite spectacularly, whereas “The Spider” simmers on a single verse for the vast majority of its 4:42 runtime; once the vocals enter, they only pause once, and then very briefly. They are, in their entirety before that pause:

There’s a spider in the drain and he’s feeling pain
And he doesn’t want to die any more than you or I
He’s struggling to live, but he doesn’t have much time
Any more than you or I…
We’ve got to die, we’ve got to live
We’ve got to take what we can get
We sell ourselves for petty change
And when we die, we rearrange…
It’s time to take it back again
It’s time to take it back again
I want you to love me like I love you…

Here, Cuomo is setting the template for the main thoughts and themes of this rather complicated song: the spider metaphor, the life-meets-death dialectic, and a rather obtuse dimension of love. It’s clearly directionless, but there’s a method to the madness that hasn’t yet revealed itself — again, Cuomo’s just beginning to fray things out here. It’s fantastically disorienting, and it’s disheartening to see so many mistaken that facet of the song as having been unintentional. The musical context should provide a hint for what’s going on here: those guitar meanderings and synth percolations give the song an expansive spatial sense encountered nowhere else in Weezer’s tightly-knit and often formulaic canon, and that’s no coincidence. It’s almost as if this nebulous tune is floating off in some alternate Weezer reality, or at least somewhere dark and far beyond the shallow stratosphere of their sunny and insular guitar pop world.

The break in these lyrics comes in the form of another first: a nearly single-note feedback solo that cuts gently across the synth bed before echoing violently back into silence. (Aside: The last time a guitar’s entrance has had such an effect in a Weezer song would be “I Do,” and I think it’s much more effective here.) It’s not too much of a stretch of the imagination to hear it as the drip of the faucet expanding into a full flow, the one that spells the spider’s imminent end. The lyrics return:

There’s nothing more for me to say
I spoke my piece; I go on my way
And fare thee well, where’er you go
You might need help, but I won’t know
‘Cause I’m up here in my own cell
It could be heaven; it could be hell
We’ll never know just who we are
Because when we die, we become a star
And stars can’t talk because they have no mouths to speak about their past
They simply shine up in the sky
And give their light to you and I…

By this point in the verse, one has invariably noticed that the volume and density of the synths has steadily risen to the point where they are actually beginning to obscure the lyrics a bit. And speaking of the lyrics, what’s going on here now? Cuomo’s clearly flailing: he says he’s got nothing left to say, then continues to ramble on — getting all Romantic-Shakespeare-Middle-English on us for a second, even — and then all this talk about heaven and hell and death and stars — which is a pretty nice little move ‘cause the song sounds cold and otherworldly enough to be sung from outerspace, as I was sort of mentioning a second ago — but what? Hell, I have to embark on a ramble just to even begin scratching the surface of Cuomo’s!

This is the moment where so many — even some of the most helplessly devout in the camp of Weezer diehards — have given up on this song. What’s he talking about? Why are those synths getting so damn loud and annoying? Fuck this, give me back my “Beverly Hills!”
Well, kids, pay close attention:

And where will we be without their light?
We call out names and then start a fight
But then again, that’s what we do
I hate me and I hate you too
‘Cause I’m in pain just like the spider
In the drain, I am afire
But I can’t win, I’ve got to lose
Give me strength to see me through
And ease the pain that I must feel
As my bones break and I taste the steel
As I go down…the drain
I’m insane

Get it? Did you see that, there?

Okay, well, to be fair, you really have to be taking the song’s lyrics in as a {whole} to understand what’s going on at each and every point in its runtime. But those paying close attention should be realizing any number of things at this point, such as:

1)   The waves of synthesizer drowning out Cuomo are meant to represent the water flow drowning the spider. It’s a clever little way of representing what’s going on in the song without making it lyrically explicit until the winding verse’s prolonged conclusion.  You’d think this would be obvious upon first listen, but perhaps Cuomo’s overestimated his audience here as he did with Pinkerton: I’ve been surprised by how many times I’ve had to explain this simple device of “The Spider” to people who have had plenty of time to contemplate it.

2)   That first realization is key to understanding a very crucial facet of this song: the lyrics are *intentionally* frantic and scatterbrained. Cuomo’s mind is all over the place because he — like a spider nervously realizing that things are starting to get a bit wet — sees the end approaching. “The end” here means a number of things: the end of a life, the end of a relationship, the end of a song — the end of a chance to communicate something to someone. That’s what this song is about, and the hurried and ineloquent way Cuomo tries to get it all out before the approaching deadline is a subtle way to reinforce that meaning. Weezer has used conversational ineloquence to great effect plenty of times before (“I’m ready, let’s do it baby!”), so this is hardly a new trick.

3)   The lyrics at first appear to have little semblance of structure or purpose, but the narrative arc here is actually rather impressive: We begin below ground with the spider in the drain, holding onto hope against hope in its final moments, and from there Cuomo takes us up to more human ground level with the talk of failing relationships, and from there up into the stars with the talk of the afterlife…and then back down to earth with the return of the failing relationship, and then deeper down with the return to the drain where the spider finally submits to his fate. No matter how you label it, the motion is pretty interesting: Death –> Life –> Afterlife –> Life –> Death, or Hell –> Earth –> Heaven –> Earth –> Hell, etc.  It’s a perfect curve, and it works far too well for anyone to tenably dismiss this song as “directionless,” as so many have tried.

I made a sidelong reference to it earlier, but something I also really enjoy about this song is the sort of Romantic, classic-lit imagery that Cuomo evokes a couple of times. There’s the “fare thee well, where’er you go” line, of course, but my favorite moment in the whole song is when Cuomo shouts, “As my bones break and I taste the steel!” — an awesome evocation of both the spider getting crushed along the contours of the drain, and the end of the relationship being like the end of an old-fashioned duel, Cuomo left gutted by the blade of his ex-lover (all figuratively, of course). So while the winding verse and melody may have otherwise bored with its only subtle variations and developments, there are more than enough moments like these to keep the listener moved and engaged: another favorite of mine is when Brian Bell doubles in with the backing vocals on “I hate me and I hate you too,” just the right moment for a little bit of dramatic harmony. A nice reminder that these two’s voices sure do go nice together…

I will admit to one substantial issue I take with this song, and that is the thudding conclusion: “I’m insane.” It’s not that it doesn’t really fit with the rest of the song — in fact, it’s a knowing acknowledgment of the rest of the lyrics’ fraught thought process — it’s just more that it’s such a predictable Cuomo cliché in a song that is otherwise entrenched in deeply novel territory for him as a writer and Weezer as a band. Maybe it’s not such an issue with other listeners (I’d be interested to hear your thoughts), but the first time I heard this song and it had me in such a spell, I heard the “down the drain” line and found myself begging Cuomo not to rhyme it with “brain” or “insane”…and of course, there it went. It’s certainly forgivable, seeing how I otherwise love this song so dearly, but it’s something I feel warrants mention.

Frankly, I’m astounded that the Rivers Cuomo of today wrote this song, and that the Weezer of today found a way to record it well and release it in some form or another. But then again, with “Angel,” “Pig” and “Sweeney” all also being released in this era, perhaps the surprise should be reserved for the fact that all but one of these songs got jilted to “bonus track” status. Other tantalizing glimpses into Cuomo’s songwriting from this period, like “I Don’t Want To Let You Go,” frustrate as much as they please: if the guy’s still so capable of writing stuff that can go toe-to-toe with the brilliant pop manna he was conjuring as a young adult, why is he so afraid to acknowledge it through a more public medium? (Say, Weezer’s actual albums?) I’m glad that we get this stuff at all (it’s why I’m still doing this thing, folks), but it makes it kind of obvious that there’s probably a bit more of it that we aren’t hearing. Those close to the band (and occasionally, in it) have suggested as much many a time.

Meanwhile, we can hope that someday we will hear all the gems and pleasant oddities left untouched in the =W= vault. Moreover, we can give Cuomo a little more credit as a songwriter, and music like “The Spider” a little more thought as songs: there’s far more than meets the eye here, and it merits should be considered, discussed, celebrated. If not, we can expect many more spontaneously hot girls and creepy daddies in our near future.

93 Comments

  1. This Is the Way wrote:

    I held out from listening to the Deluxe tracks until I go my CD in the mail, which took quite some time. After I heard them all, I went to A6 afterwards to check out people’s response to the and was mildly surprised to see the lack of support for this song. And, if snything, over time its probably become worse. But I really like it and always have. I don’t get nonsense like “it’d be great if it was two minutes shorter” etc., the length allows it to build, and is fundamental to making the whole thing work. And as you say, the rambling lyrics are, above all, for the better.

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 5:02 pm | Permalink
  2. noobcakesmcgee wrote:

    Great write-up, I had always caught the whole intentional rambling/synths = water parts but I like how you found that nice arc to the subject matter. Very cool!

    I love this song, and it really blows my mind that Cuomo wrote this song around the same time as some of the other Red era crap. It completely took me by surprise the first time I heard it (in a good way though, unlike the vaguely nauseating feeling of surprise that accompanied most of The Red Album).

    (Side note: The very end of the Angel and the One (feedback part) has some sound effects you can hear w/ headphones that sound like water dripping/falling. TAATO flows really well into The Spider as well (I would’ve been happy w/ that one-two punch closing TRA) and it’s cool to see the water connection.)

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 5:04 pm | Permalink
  3. blinkoboy13 wrote:

    This entry was really JUST exactly what I needed to remind me of why I loved Weezer. I’ve been so down on Weezer lately because of the “I’m Your Daddys” and “The Girl Got Hots” of the world. This was such a refreshing read.

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 5:10 pm | Permalink
  4. s.o.s. wrote:

    As always, a very interesting and engaging read, soy. I always find a greater appreciation for songs such as “The Spider” after reading about them in depth. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with this song for a while now. It’s definitely not traditional Weezer as we know them, but that’s just another reason why I love it. It took a few listens, but after the sixth or seventh spin, I was able to say I truly enjoyed this song.

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 5:15 pm | Permalink
  5. noobcakesmcgee wrote:

    Hear hear blinkoboy13!

    I just listened to Pinkerton, then this song (to refresh the memory) and damn, Weezer actually is (was?) a really kick-ass awesome band. Keep up the good work soy!

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 5:16 pm | Permalink
  6. Chuck wrote:

    Most of the unintelligent, meandering, “I’m so into pop (not actually real POP music) music” Neanderthals on albumsix.com just don’t get this song.

    Those people are probably the ones saying: “The music in the 3 new songs is just soooo good, just forget about the lyrics!!”

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 5:17 pm | Permalink
  7. Soyrev wrote:

    Just the simple fact that Rivers is grappling with songwriting techniques and devices as complex as those in this song in ’08 is more than enough reason to venerate the song — but as I said in the post, I believe he and Weezer really nailed the execution, too. Great stuff!

    Thanks for all the positive comments so far. You’re the ones who keep this blog going!

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 5:21 pm | Permalink
  8. Soyrev wrote:

    Oh, didn’t mention it in the post itself, but the “Death –> Life –> Afterlife –> Life –> Death” trajectory of the narrative is also quite nicely in line with the reincarnation beliefs of the eastern cultures and practices Rivers is so into these days. Perhaps not a coincidence.

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 5:24 pm | Permalink
  9. CrippyBoy wrote:

    I’m glad you mentioned that “I’m insane” line, Soy. It’s always bugged me to hear it in an otherwise superb song.

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 5:32 pm | Permalink
  10. HMC wrote:

    Excellent write-up. It took me a while to appreciate this song. I kind of half-heartedly listened to it the first couple times, and thus kind of dismissed it until pretty recently, when I listened to it again. Great song. You hit the nail on the head in terms of it being misunderstood. I think part of the reason I was so quick to dismiss it was due to it’s initial reception.

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 7:02 pm | Permalink
  11. Love love love this song. I feel like those that hate this song are the ones that would have walked out on Cuomo in 1996. “WTF is he doing?!” This song is art. Period. Thank you for doing this song justice.

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 7:42 pm | Permalink
  12. GuessWho wrote:

    I still don’t like it. Sorry. I don’t care if the stream-of-consciousness lyrics are intentional or how deep the message and music are, I just find it dull, droning, and boring.

    And this is coming from a guy who loves Radiohead.

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 7:43 pm | Permalink
  13. ThomeYorke wrote:

    I’ve always loved the complexity of the lyrics, but the music just doesn’t do it for me. It’s on the right track, but it just doesn’t really go anywhere.

    I find myself distracted by the music – while I’m trying to focus on how interesting the lyrics are, I keep thinking how much I’d prefer it if there was a little more meat on this arrangement.

    Again, Rivers really finally hit some stellar lyrics here, and that IS really comforting in the 2008 era. I can’t get in to this musically no matter how hard I try to though.

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 7:54 pm | Permalink
  14. clore wrote:

    You pinpointed my feelings about this song with one word: otherworldly. This is the EXACT same word I have used to describe this song. It does not fit its surroundings in the rest of the Weezer canon — yet, I rank this song up there with best.

    That single-note feedback solo gives me chills every time. It’s very haunting, creepy, yet so beautiful; especially with the delivery of the line that precedes it: “I want you to love me like I love….you.” Punches me in the face every time — I love it.

    Also, with consideration to Perfect Situation’s lyrics:

    “Why am I so obviously insane?
    In a perfect situation,
    I let love down the drain.”

    The SAME recycled insane/drain rhyme disappointed me the first few listens in “The Spider.” However, it is easily-excusable in my opinion, as I will take any sort of genius songwriting this late in Rivers’/Weezer’s career.

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 8:35 pm | Permalink
  15. Voroo wrote:

    Awesome write up on this. I’m a huge fan of The Spider, one of my favorites of the era. I don’t mind the insane line much, even if it really isn’t necessary. Hopefully more will appreciate the song for it’s greatness after reading this, and I can only hope that Cuomo still knows how to put at least a few gems on the next record. I’ll listen to it before I pass out tonight, so I can dream about spiders drowning etc.

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 8:59 pm | Permalink
  16. Ludicrosity wrote:

    Kudos to Rivers for some great lyrics and for daring to tackle something complicated again but I cannot get into this song in any way other than that. I understand the symbolism behind the synths and everything but sound-wise, I just cannot get into it. I also can’t stand Rivers’ vocal delivery on this one: Everyone says how it’s so emotional and all I hear is an emo whine that grates on my nerves a great deal.

    I respect the positive viewpoints on this song and think this was a great post Soy. I just cannot get into this song though.

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 9:13 pm | Permalink
  17. Ludicrosity wrote:

    And while I am positive it wasn’t your intent, you made yourself sound a bit pretentious with this post I fine. Just because I don’t like The Spider, it doesn’t mean I want another Beverly Hills or some such disposable pop song. I just can’t get into this song due to the sounds in it and that doesn’t automatically mean I am some dumb Weezer fan for it. That generalization just kind of irked me.

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 9:17 pm | Permalink
  18. Robin wrote:

    Great post, Soy! I have very similar feelings about this song that you do and was very happy to see that you wrote about it!

    First of all, I COMPLETELY agree with you about the “I’m insane” lyric. The song would be infinitely better and much more cryptic without this line. It nearly takes out all of the value and weight of the lyrics in one single stroke. Then again, maybes it’s just Rivers intentionally trying to prevent himself from going QUITE all the way back to Pinkerton-era amazingness.

    Secondly, some people in the comments are saying that they find the music itself kind of boring. While I actually always enjoyed the music in this song, really it was Rivers’ singing that draws me in. I think Rivers is an amazing vocalist and this song (as well as “Pig”) really, really highlight that. I really like this song just because I his voice sounds so good. The music becomes secondary to that. I don’t think it was an afterthought at all though, because they did such a good job with the devices that you mentioned in your post.

    Anyways, thanks a lot for writing about this! Keep up the good work!

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 10:33 pm | Permalink
  19. Hup_Y wrote:

    The song is OK, but the synthesizers will always irk me as they are twice as tasteless as the ambient syrup you’d expect to hear in a floatation tank. If Tony Visconti or Brian Eno had been behind the controls (preferably both in the late 70s, but you can’t have everything), well, we may have had something outstanding. They may have even asked Rivers to junk the clunking, trite and facepalm-tastic “he’s feeling pain” lyric, a moment Chris Carrabba would discard for being too mawkish and obvious.

    Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 4:30 am | Permalink
  20. Hup_Y wrote:

    In summary, production-wise this could have resembled one of the more sparse moments from Big Star’s ‘Third/Sister Lovers’, but instead it is like what one would imagine how the music of Kenny G would sound if bullies mercilessly threw his soprano sax on top of the canteen roof.

    Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 4:36 am | Permalink
  21. Melack wrote:

    Hmm.

    I love this song because the melody is amazing and yet so simple.

    I think you are overanalyzing it a bit here.
    But yeha it’s a great song right up there with Sweeney, Pig and Angle.

    The arrangement is fantastic. Just to hear Rivers arpeggiating the chords under a muddy synth line is so refreshing these days when arrangements like Troublemaker isn’t far away.

    To those who find this songs boring I wonder if they only listen to super catchy power pop or if they ever tries to find something a bit more challenging to the ears.

    I hate the word boring both when it comes to movies and music.

    Slow and repetive does not equal boring in my book. Especially not with a melody and arrangement like this.

    Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 6:35 am | Permalink
  22. Melack wrote:

    You have to be in a special mood to appreciate this song though.

    I’m not listening to it very often but when I do it often blows me away.

    Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 6:36 am | Permalink
  23. Melack wrote:

    And who fucking cares if he rhymes drain with insane?

    Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 6:39 am | Permalink
  24. Chuck wrote:

    Unfortunately, none of us share the intellectual prowess that hup_y possesess, which in turn allowS our plebian minds to be tricked into thinking this is a good song, when In reality it isn’t (according to hup_y)

    Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 8:00 am | Permalink
  25. Hup_Y wrote:

    Did you miss the bit where it said it was OK?

    Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 9:01 am | Permalink
  26. ThomYorke wrote:

    Melack – I can assure you there is truckloads of music I listen to beyond power pop, and perhaps that’s exactly why I find this arrangement lacking.

    A slower song lacking a clear melody like this needs even greater dynamics, varied instrumentation, and just more of a structure that lets the lyrics not drown in the synth ocean. For me, the “spacey” feel ends up creating more distraction than it gives the song actual space to breath within.

    There isn’t enough going on here to draw you in to all of the interesting lyrics Rivers is plowing through. The way it’s arranged has the opposite effect – it buries the lyrics, rather than bringing them to the forefront for the listener.

    Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 12:28 pm | Permalink
  27. Brownerton wrote:

    First off, I really like this song, for a lot of the same artsy reasons as Soy. But that pretty much answers why this sort of song doesn’t make the regular albums: it’s art, not pop. It’s inaccessible and a bit audience-hostile (it sort of reminds me of what David Foster Wallace would write, were he a songwriter), and it simply will not appeal to the masses, just like Sweeney and Pig (and to a greater degree). It’s great that Rivers writes music like this, and releases at least some of it. But he’s always liked being popular. An album of Spider-Sweeney-Pig-type songs wouldn’t sell worth shit. Rivers and the other members of Weezer seem to enjoy being rockstars. I guess we can bemoan that, but frankly I don’t think it’s fair to attack people for wanting to make a good living from music rather than eke it out as a niche band. I’ll take the I’m Your Daddys if it means we get to hear the Spiders.

    Weezer nowadays is basically the ’70s version of the Kinks, with Pinkerton equating to “Village Green Preservation Society” and TGA to “Lola.” That’s a much better fate than that of most bands that decide to get experimental.

    Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 2:48 pm | Permalink
  28. ThomYorke wrote:

    The only thing David Foster Wallace like in this is the us of steam of consciousness style writing. The comparisons end there.

    And I’ll bemoan the band for half-assing it all I want; they’re capable of better and we know it. Rivers doesn’t need to be pandering to the lowest common denominator at this point, and if he wants to, than it’s just a waste of his talent. They’ve been making a “good living” for a LONG time time now; shitting out “I’m Your Daddy” for the sake of one’s livelihood is ludicrous at this point. As i mentioned earlier, songs like that aren’t even good POP-ROCK songs. They just are horrible. Period. On any level.

    I’m starting to agree more with Soy that as die-hard weezer fans, we’re too quick to grade the band not on how GOOD they’re current work is, but how much WORSE it COULD have been based on the shit we’ve been subjected to.

    /end rant

    Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 6:04 pm | Permalink
  29. tsarczar wrote:

    Great blog entry Soy. I wish I could see this song as you do, but at least you’ve given me a glimpse of it…

    Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 6:08 pm | Permalink
  30. Brownerton wrote:

    Perhaps it’s a mark of my cynicism regarding mainstream bands, but I see no reason to expect anything better than Weezer’s current output. They’ve wanted to be famous rock stars ever since Pinkerton tanked, and since then they shy away from anything that takes them farther from that goal.

    I don’t really see a big difference in quality between any of their post-Pinkerton releases: they’re all mostly bland pop records with a few flashes of their former glory. Is “I’m Your Daddy” really any worse than “We Are All on Drugs” or “Crab” or “Cold Dark World”?

    Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 6:55 pm | Permalink
  31. Soyrev wrote:

    LOTM: Thanks for the props! I full-heartedly agree.

    GuessWho: This shit is better than 90% of Radiohead! That might just be your problem. ;)

    Clore: You nailed it. Totally agree — that moment leading into (and including) the solo is totally gutting. Beautiful!

    Ludicrosity: It’s all well and good that you don’t like this song, but really, my sarcastic little jab (which in and of itself is a small joke) was aimed at people who just heard the song once and dismissed it as crap. If you’ve actually listened to the song enough to understand all its wonderful little intricacies and still don’t enjoy it…Well, can’t say I relate, but at least you tried!

    Hup_Y: How in the fuck does this sound anything like a saxophone clanking down a tin roof — let alone Kenny G’s sax? I’m all for obscure, left-sideways descriptors, but you gotta make sure they add up, mayne.

    Melack: Overanalysis or not, the fact is this song is deep enough to actually go somewhere when dissecting it. There’s something to actually analyze and discuss here. Which is infinitely, infinitely better than vapid shite like “The Girl Got Hot.”

    Thom: As I said in the post, the lyrics are supposed to get obscured by the arrangement at times — and if you think about it, that’s a small part of what makes this song so damn good. It was no accident.

    I will agree, though, that you can’t get any worse than the shit Weezer debuted in Korea. Not the slightest bit worse.

    Brownerton: It’s possible to be famous rock stars and still make good music though, man. Something Cuomo should’ve learned from Blue, or even the better tracks of Green (IITS, “Hash Pipe,” “Photograph” — no coincidence that the singles were the best songs on the album). Not all music has to lowest-common-denominator BvH/TGGH/IYD to be hits (and I hope the latter two of that trio tank horribly, just to teach these pathetic old men a fucking lesson). And like Thom said, there’s NO REASON for it, they’re all already damn rich — especially Cuomo, who makes these damn calls. But the dumb bastard should at least remember that many of his biggest, most lasting hits — “Undone,” “Buddy Holly,” “Say It Ain’t So,” “Island in the Sun,” even (to a lesser extent) “Hash Pipe” and (even lesser) “Perfect Situation” — are examples of good music. The only REAL hit Cuomo’s ever had that is less respectable is BvH, and even then, that song’s miles above TGGH or IYD or the new CSP…so, um, what the fuck?

    And yes, “Crab” is SO MUCH better than this shit. Even WAAOD is better (the section from the bridge through the extended solo/build back into the rest of the song is, at least musically, pretty cool). CDW, maybe not…But adding a few more CDW-level songs to the mix (and making them LEAD FUCKING SINGLES) is the last thing Weezer needs this late in the game.

    Thursday, August 6, 2009 at 4:50 am | Permalink
  32. ThomYorke wrote:

    I totally respect your angle on this one Soy, but we’ll never see eye to eye on the music actually complementing the lyrics. In layman’s terms, it simply doesn’t do it for me.

    I will say that your post still created a new respect for the song for me though. This is definitely one of your better works, and it opened my eyes to a few moments in the song I hadn’t picked up on yet myself.

    And I agree that I’ll take Crab over IYD any day of the week. If Rivers wants pure pop, than he needs to stick to his Green era tactics. I wish he’d strive for a little more now and then, but at least Green was GREAT at what it set out to achieve.

    Thursday, August 6, 2009 at 8:50 am | Permalink
  33. waitingandwaiting wrote:

    Really good post and made a very convincing argument for the song, however I’m not that keen on the sound of the song. But it’s well executed and I respect Rivers for trying an interesting composition. I did listen to this on night and got really into it though and felt the musics power and vibes but I have yet to recapture the feeling. When it comes to ordering the Red tracklist I could really see a Beach Boys Today! approach, one side commercial stuff and one side the darker, quality music. Perhaps it will happen with the new music.

    Thursday, August 6, 2009 at 10:37 am | Permalink
  34. Charlie wrote:

    This is one of my favorite songs, period. Rivers’ vocals are gorgeous. The reverb is perfect with the synths and acoustic guitar and Bell’s harmonies. I love the vast space and the ambient background (reminds me of Eno). It’s a beautiful poem of words and sound.

    I don’t take much offense at the word “insane”. I think Rivers has a specific definition in mind that is more complex than “crazy”. “Sane” means healthy. I’m not so sure that Rivers has ever been mentally healthy and he’s had his share of physical pain. So I give him a pass. Instead of writing a another whole album about his mental and physical state Rivers probably finds it a lot easier and more painless to sum it up with one word.

    This song and Pig has convinced me that Rivers sees his albums nowadays as simply pop rock ventures without much room for deep introspection or “art” or whatever you want to call it. The albums are for Geffen, the bonus tracks are for music lovers. I worry the same thing will happen to Album 7 and we’ll get a deluxe edition with the truly great songs. But at least we got these. (And I’m convinced that Rivers and the band felt they made a big mistake by leaving those bonus tracks off the album – why else release them in a new edition later?) Needless to say I’m very interested in how this next album turns out.

    Thanks for this blog, intelligent musical discussion is apparently banned on albumsix.com.

    Thursday, August 6, 2009 at 9:38 pm | Permalink
  35. Soyrev wrote:

    It’s good to see that, generally speaking, the consensus opinion on this song has come a long way. Back when TRA came out, I think it was the 2nd or 3rd most hated song from the entire sessions (as we know them)…When in actuality, it’s quite the opposite!

    And I appreciate that those of you who don’t love it can see why others do.

    Friday, August 7, 2009 at 5:42 pm | Permalink
  36. Hup_Y wrote:

    What I meant was it sounds more like a Kenny G track with the sax removed. With some tastefully atmospheric production (and with some dodgy lyrics excised), it COULD potentially have been Weezer’s answer to Alex Chilton’s ‘Kango Roo’, rather than the Yanni tribute it unarguably became.

    Friday, August 7, 2009 at 7:18 pm | Permalink
  37. sandwiches wrote:

    great entry soy.

    Nothing much to add, but i didnt see any mention of the Bell BGVs, which i must say are some of his strongest in a long time (they’re also great on Sweeney)

    Friday, August 7, 2009 at 7:36 pm | Permalink
  38. Soyrev wrote:

    Read again, sandwichman! Concluding thought of the fourth-to-last paragraph.

    Sunday, August 9, 2009 at 9:45 am | Permalink
  39. noobcakesmcgee wrote:

    (Side note: The very end of the Angel and the One (feedback part) has some sound effects you can hear w/ headphones that sound like water dripping/falling. TAATO flows really well into The Spider as well (I would’ve been happy w/ that one-two punch closing TRA) and it’s cool to see the water connection.)

    Sunday, August 9, 2009 at 5:28 pm | Permalink
  40. Soyrev wrote:

    Noob: Perhaps that was the way it was originally sequenced when the band handed in the hour-plus original version of the album to the label? I can hear that, too. And applause.

    Sunday, August 9, 2009 at 7:16 pm | Permalink
  41. McKrautney wrote:

    Wow, the lyrical examinations for this entry are just fantastic. I’ve never seen such an interesting full crackdown/review of The Spider and I think I might go back and listen to The Spider now.

    …What…I said I’d copy and paste it..:P

    Sunday, August 9, 2009 at 7:24 pm | Permalink
  42. Ludicrosity wrote:

    “GuessWho: This shit is better than 90% of Radiohead! That might just be your problem.”

    Oh no you di-in’t! lol

    Sunday, August 9, 2009 at 8:48 pm | Permalink
  43. Sandwiches Tom wrote:

    Always reminds me of Twin Peaks.

    Sunday, August 9, 2009 at 8:53 pm | Permalink
  44. BrokenBeatenDown wrote:

    I’ve been defending this song on A6 since it came out. Even if you don’t like the song, it’s hard to overlook the amount of thought that was put into this song. This is Rivers at one of his creative peaks.

    I still am holding out for a Cuomo-penned album that is as consistently musically mature as this song (you can at least batch together an excellent EP from the Red-era tracks). Unfortuantely, he still seems like he’s in the midst of his mid-life crisis.

    Great write-up…Hope to see more soon. Looking forward to reading your take on “The Angel And The One.”

    Sunday, August 9, 2009 at 9:00 pm | Permalink
  45. Soyrev wrote:

    BrokenBeatenDown: I’m looking forward to the day that Cuomo’s too damn old to have stylists even trying to make him look 25 again anymore. Then we might really have him “get over it” and go back to making music that’s…well, as mature as the stuff he was writing when he actually was 25. Oh, Rivers.

    Or maybe he’ll just disband Weezer and become a fulltime pop radio songwriter. Oh, Rivers.

    Sunday, August 9, 2009 at 9:22 pm | Permalink
  46. BrokenBeatenDown wrote:

    Actually, I wouldn’t mind at all if Weezer disbanded and:
    1) Rivers got the pop radio songwriting out of his system by writing for..well, pop radio artists.
    2) Rivers released lo-fi solo albums on the side that were more experimental in the vein of “The Spider” and “Pig.”
    3) Weezer cashed in with special releases (Pinkerton DE, The Green Album DE?, SFTBH) and a box-set of unreleased tracks.

    Then 10 years later, when the band has gained more respect, they could do a reunion tour and/or album. Then, they’ll just be too old to even attempt to release tracks like “Daddy.” Sorry for going off on a tangent. Hoping for smart decisions from the band. :/

    Sunday, August 9, 2009 at 9:33 pm | Permalink
  47. Soyrev wrote:

    Sounds like a perfect situation, BBD. All they have to do is swing…

    Sunday, August 9, 2009 at 9:47 pm | Permalink
  48. Soyrev wrote:

    I read a comment somewhere on the internet that said that this song is like a spiritual relative of “Butterfly,” in a way…and that both use fragile creatures as a metaphor. I like that.

    Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 9:59 pm | Permalink
  49. Melack wrote:

    The songs reminds me in a little way of eachother for sure. And they also have in common that I love them both.

    Friday, August 28, 2009 at 2:51 pm | Permalink
  50. Soyrev wrote:

    To be honest, I think the similarity is intentional…There’s a little turn in the guitar line of “The Spider” that sounds exactly like one in that of “Butterfly.” And these are practically the only times an acoustic guitar has been used on a Weezer album post-Blue…

    Friday, August 28, 2009 at 8:40 pm | Permalink
  51. justbluemyself wrote:

    i like the first 90 seconds or so of this song, but after that the lyrics just get stupid and the song just really drags. even Karl doesn’t like this one.

    Friday, August 28, 2009 at 9:50 pm | Permalink
  52. Soyrev wrote:

    Are you sure Karl doesn’t? I’m pretty sure he gave the song an 8 or 9 out of 10 (this was before the Deluxe tracks leaked…Ms. Sweeney got a 10, as did King, although he’s since stated that he more has Rivers’ demo in mind when he thinks of that song than the one we have). He later said that he wouldn’t have included it on his ideal Red, but because it’s too “out there” for a regular release, not because it isn’t good. And as much as I love this song, I sort of agree: if I were tracklisting Red, I would have placed it at the end of the album (a clean segue from the outro of “The Angel and The One” into beginning of “The Spider”) albeit unlisted, as a sort of hidden track. I feel like its dark atmospherics lend itself really well to a sort of haunting surprise at the end of the record, like “Endless Nameless” on Nevermind.

    Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 12:03 pm | Permalink
  53. noobcakesmcgee wrote:

    TAATO flows SO well into The Spider. I have that one-two punch closing my re-track listed Red on my iPod. It would’ve been a really great idea to make it a “secret” unlisted track.

    Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 4:05 pm | Permalink
  54. Soyrev wrote:

    I’m reading one of Shakespeare’s sonnets right now. Funny that one line refers to the world as “this huge stage” (like Cuomo quotes in “Greatest Man”), then in the next line says that the stars above comment on what’s going on down below. I THOUGHT CUOMO SAID STARS DIDN’T HAVE MOUTHS IN THIS SONG

    Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 12:57 pm | Permalink
  55. CatFamine wrote:

    This will be rectified on Weezer’s next release: Barditude (ft. Beyonce).

    Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 4:36 pm | Permalink
  56. GuessWho wrote:

    Well, I feel awfully stupid for my initial commentary on this one. I don’t know what happened, but this song just hit me the other day and now I love it.

    Monday, November 16, 2009 at 8:43 pm | Permalink
  57. noobcakesmcgee wrote:

    Welcome home, Guesswho, welcome home. :)

    Monday, November 16, 2009 at 9:48 pm | Permalink
  58. Soyrev wrote:

    He’s gonna be all right, folks!

    :D

    Monday, November 16, 2009 at 10:15 pm | Permalink
  59. Soyrev wrote:

    “As my bones break and I taste the steel…”

    GOD I love that line, that moment. Such a great image on a literal (the spider dying) level, a romantic level, and a Romantic level. This song isn’t pure genius the whole way through, but it has lots of little peaks that are really moving, some of the best little moments in Weezer history as far as I care…

    Monday, January 25, 2010 at 9:05 pm | Permalink
  60. Soyrev wrote:

    Evidently a full-band version of this song was recorded at one point! Very interesting indeed…

    Friday, March 19, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Permalink
  61. noobcakesmcgee wrote:

    whoa. i wanna hear that.

    Friday, March 19, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Permalink
  62. Soyrev wrote:

    Yeah. The promise of a rock-out ending makes it sound like a more stereotypical Weezer arrangement, and I really value the cut we have for how unique it is…But still. I’ll take as many different glimpses of this song as I can.

    Friday, March 19, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Permalink
  63. arfentul wrote:

    Is it just me or does this weird synth sounding stuff show up in a lot of Rivers’ demoes?

    Friday, March 19, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Permalink
  64. Soyrev wrote:

    What do you mean?

    Friday, March 19, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Permalink
  65. ThomYorke wrote:

    Despite good lyrics, this musical arrangement still puts me to sleep. Sorry, Soy.

    Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Permalink
  66. arfentul wrote:

    Several of his demoes have that sad sounding synth in the background, but we never hear it in album songs, except for The Spider. The demoes for PoW, IDWTLYG, CSP, a bunch of the SFTBH songs, and that Shisui song all have it. Then again, it could just be these couple of songs…

    Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Permalink
  67. arfentul wrote:

    ahh on second thought it’s not as common as I thought, and the SFTBH synth is different. Still, it’s a cool effect.

    Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 10:16 am | Permalink
  68. Soyrev wrote:

    Yeah. It’s odd, how much synths are supposedly (and quite legitimately) a part of the Weezer mystique, and yet they turn up on the actual albums so infrequently…

    Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 11:33 am | Permalink
  69. Madcap wrote:

    Discussion is dying, just a little.

    New post, methinks, soy?

    Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Permalink
  70. Soyrev wrote:

    I would love that. But my failure to have found a time to do one in the past two weeks of spring break does not bode well for the week of school ahead…=\

    Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Permalink
  71. Madcap wrote:

    Sorry if this has been mentioned before but I always thought it was “I am a fighter” hence the “I can’t win” line…

    Friday, March 26, 2010 at 9:57 am | Permalink
  72. Madcap wrote:

    Also I always thought it was
    “Up here in my own self” but that one doesn’t make as much sense really.

    Friday, March 26, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Permalink
  73. Soyrev wrote:

    You are absolutely right about the “fighter,” not so much about the “self.”

    Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 1:07 am | Permalink
  74. Hellman wrote:

    This blog is great and this song is fantastic! Top ten Post-Pinkerton for me no doubt, I think it’s a fantastic melody that deserves way more attention.

    By the way, do anyway want to invite me to allthingsweezer.com?
    I’ve tried contacting the guy who runs the forum but without succes. My e-mail is davidhellman@hushmail.com.

    I’ve just discovered this blog, can’t wait for more write-ups!

    Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 5:55 am | Permalink
  75. Hellman wrote:

    *anyone

    Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 5:56 am | Permalink
  76. Soyrev wrote:

    Invitation sent! Do enjoy, and thanks for your kind comment. I hope to get back to updating next week.

    Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 11:09 am | Permalink
  77. Nate wrote:

    So… yeah… how does one join ATW?

    I’m on spring break, and I’m really doing nothing but hanging at home.

    Monday, March 29, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Permalink
  78. Nate wrote:

    Thanks Soy!

    Monday, March 29, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Permalink
  79. Soyrev wrote:

    For the record, I’m in class right now, and the grand up-down-up-down motion of the narrative in this song is very typical of Old English poetry (like, 1500 years old). Perhaps/probably just a pure coincidence, but with that gorgeous line “As my bones break and I taste the steel” I do feel like Rivers is hearkening back to a bygone era…

    Monday, March 29, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Permalink
  80. sad johnny wrote:

    A full-band version exists, supposedly it has a “rocking” ending. Wonder whos idea that was?

    Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 5:00 am | Permalink
  81. Hellman wrote:

    Yeah, thanks for the invite soy! I think this song is one of the most Pinkerton esque Post-Pinkerton songs. Maybe not so much in it’s sound but more in it’s spirit and the feelings it evokes.

    Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 8:08 am | Permalink
  82. Soyrev wrote:

    I agree. It’s both reminiscent of Rivers’ Pinkerton writing style and is something completely new and different that the band has never done before. Why more Weezer fans don’t “get” it is beyond me, and I find that a little depressing: they don’t just want Weezer to be good again, they want it in a way that’s safe and predictable.

    And Sad Johnny…Taking your implied diss of Pat here (and the explicit one of Scott on the “Story Of My Life” thread), along with your hilarious email address (eatinshit@milk.com), I’m gonna go ahead and guess you’re MS.

    Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 9:50 am | Permalink
  83. Soyrev wrote:

    “AS MY BONES BREAK AND I TASTE THE STEEEEEL”

    This song from the “I hate me and I hate you” might be a top 10 Weezer moment for me. Seriously.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 11:11 am | Permalink
  84. Melack wrote:

    I can’t believe how underrated this track is. Ok I can understand if some people thinks the lyrics are silly and cheesy (I love them of course) but this melody is just, well magical. The melody is the emotion of this song.

    Tuesday, August 24, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Permalink
  85. Soyrev wrote:

    Melack! Good to see you again.

    And yes, I agree — incredible melody. But then again, I love just about everything about this one.

    Wednesday, August 25, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Permalink
  86. ThomYorke wrote:

    Despite my repeated efforts, I just CAN’T get in to this song even though it has good lyrics. Musically, it bores the shit out me. Sorry guys…

    Wednesday, August 25, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Permalink
  87. Soyrev wrote:

    It’s okay, Thom. Would you like my pink “We Are All On Drugs” vinyl, instead? ;P

    Wednesday, August 25, 2010 at 9:32 pm | Permalink
  88. ThomYorke wrote:

    SOLD! Hah :)

    Thursday, August 26, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Permalink
  89. Soyrev wrote:

    The color of the vinyl is actually pretty damn awesome, to be honest.

    Thursday, August 26, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Permalink
  90. Ludicrosity wrote:

    I am with Thom — I know the song is artistically fantastic and full of symbolism but I just can’t fucking get into it. I think Rivers’ vocal delivery on it has a lot to do with that — I really hate his whine on this one. As artistically symbolic as the drowning synth is, the sound of it just takes me out of it too.

    But then again this is coming from someone who can tolerate and actually enjoy Memories despite the poor singing and shitty synth in the chorus so you might wanna take my opinion with a grain of salt… or a whole shaker. Sorry, Thom — you probably wish I wasn’t on your side with this one now! lol

    Friday, August 27, 2010 at 7:33 am | Permalink
  91. Other No One wrote:

    Of all the songs from the Red era that I was unsure of, this one took the longest to grow on me.

    I can easily attribute my eventual love of this track to my expanding taste.

    It took me a while to appreciate Rivers’ departure from his guitar-laden angst and his delve into, in my opinion, an amazing mix of dream-pop and shoegazing.

    The lyrics, are Pinkerton worthy as well.

    Sunday, September 19, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Permalink
  92. th0mb0y wrote:

    I agree that when I first heard this song I wrote it off as a lame Butterfly rip off. The arpeggiated portion of the song stuck out like a sore thumb and I thought to myself “Ah, first came the butterfly and now it’s the spider!”
    One thought about the 2 songs: In Butterfly, he is the one causing the damage whereas in Spider he is the one being damaged.
    I have grown to appreciate the song on my own and Soy’s writeup has made it even more enjoyable.
    My question is whether he put the arpeggio in there because the 2 songs are truly related or did he do it hoping that the Pinkerton era fanboys (myself included) would hear it and instantly accept it as Weezer canon.

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Permalink
  93. Allgood wrote:

    haha “Weezer Canon.” I dig that.

    First time I heard this song it clicked instantly. Love the writeup Rev, this site is legit.

    Saturday, October 2, 2010 at 8:55 am | Permalink

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