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Mansion Of Cardboard

Maladroit outtake “So Low” was far from a great song to begin with, but when the band rewrote and re-attempted the song as “Mansion of Cardboard” for what is known as the Early Album 5 sessions (essentially, an early and abortive run of recordings in 2002 for what eventually became 2005’s Make Believe), it could only go downhill.

One of the defining features of this mostly-faceless batch o’ tunes is Rivers Cuomo’s first real, focused experiments with third-person storytelling in song. The band’s first three albums primarily deal with his experiences with and desires for women — be they real or imagined — and even Maladroit, which tried to skirt the issue of subject matter entirely, still found Cuomo singing more about “I” and “my” than anything else. Here, Cuomo tries to get outside himself for a moment, and turns “So Low” — another song about Cuomo’s longings for a girl — into a weird anthem for the proudly homeless. It should be no big surprise that it doesn’t really work.

Keeping the prior song’s bland musical foundation intact, the lyrics blunder through several clumsy lines and (rather gross) images: “Thoughts arise / Fear is doubt / Bearing through / Giving smell,” “Overcoat / Old wool cap / Leather gloves / Hide the fat,” and the hatefully bad refrain, “Stand back! The old man’s snoring heavy / Down underneath the bridge he’s got his mansion of cardboard slats / And it’s enough,” to name just a few.

Cuomo’s best third-person sketch from the lot is without a doubt “The Organ Player,” which I’d say succeeds because the topic is a little closer to home for Cuomo than the vagabond life. But this one, like so many others from the wisely-scrapped ’02 sessions, is better left forgotten.

10 Comments

  1. Soyrev wrote:

    ALMOST “The Very Worst” bad…but I think I’ll refrain for this one.

    Friday, September 25, 2009 at 4:35 pm | Permalink
  2. justbluemyself wrote:

    one of the most boring Weezer songs I can think of.

    Friday, September 25, 2009 at 5:29 pm | Permalink
  3. Art Vandelay wrote:

    yep, it’s dogshit.

    Friday, September 25, 2009 at 5:38 pm | Permalink
  4. JAY wrote:

    I always liked this song alot. It reminds me of pinkerton. Sounds sad.

    Friday, September 25, 2009 at 5:38 pm | Permalink
  5. Soyrev wrote:

    Pinkerton.

    Friday, September 25, 2009 at 5:49 pm | Permalink
  6. CrippyBoy wrote:

    The song’s pretty mediocre musically, but it’s the subject matter that really bothers me. What was he thinking glorifying homelessness?

    Friday, September 25, 2009 at 11:51 pm | Permalink
  7. Brownerton wrote:

    Scott’s bass work is sort of interesting, I guess. Once again, Rivers’ vocals sound like he’s either disinterested or deeply depressed. Or both.

    Saturday, September 26, 2009 at 2:15 am | Permalink
  8. Soyrev wrote:

    Speaking of homelessness, Rivers looks like he’s going home to his own cardboard mansion after the show from this ’02 pic ThomYorke just posted in the “Love Explosion” comments…

    http://i252.photobucket.com/albums/hh1/wepeel9er/SlimPensi.jpg

    Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at 7:24 pm | Permalink
  9. lazrpo1nt3r wrote:

    I think this is one of the best songs from the A5 demos. The third-person perspective and the arrangement’s very cool.

    Hell, I’ll go along saying that this is one of my favorite Weezer songs…

    Sunday, October 25, 2009 at 2:43 pm | Permalink
  10. Soyrev wrote:

    wow.

    Sunday, October 25, 2009 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

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