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Keep Fishin’

Speaking of Homie, Rivers Cuomo introduced “Think About You” from the same show they played “Hot Tub” by comparing the opening riff to the Sesame Street theme song. The audience laughed, Fred Eltringham counted off the song, and indeed the opening chord progression bore a striking resemblance — but it wouldn’t be the last time Weezer fans would hear the similarity.

In fact, I find the beginning to “Keep Fishin’” so much like that of “Think About You” that I have to wonder if it is not some extremely thorough rewrite of that Homie original (the two do not share a COR number so perhaps that’s a bit far-fetched; either way, “Fishin'” was Cuomo’s return to the riff, conscious or not). There’s a bit of a temporal gap there: “Think About You” was written in 1994 (right after “Clarinet Waltz” and right before Pinkerton’s “No Other One” — two songs radically different from “Think About You”) then finally played live in 1997; “Keep Fishin’” didn’t percolate until 2001, released finally in 2002 on Maladroit.

The album version we have is a pretty good piece of power pop, and one of the brighter spots of Weezer’s fourth record. It’s one of the clearest band efforts the group had released since at least Pinkerton — Pat Wilson’s rolling drum intro establishes the song’s upbeat personality, and Brian Bell’s vocal echoes in the verse might very well be the clearest showcasing of his voice on any Weezer album to that point (except, of course, the lead line or two he takes for the bridge to “El Scorcho”). In fact, the band’s performance is pretty great on the whole, with the pretty, poppy doo-ahh backups on the chorus, a solo that (while brief) provides the relief that Cuomo wouldn’t be adhering to the vocal melody mimic formula of The Green Album any longer.

I have nineteen versions of this song, which is, frankly, too much. Three of those versions are officially issued. Aside from the album version, there is the “radio remix” that Geffen commissioned when the song was released as Maladroit’s second single, which was actually re-recorded with a click track and is, in my opinion, the definitive version. It bypasses Wilson’s drum intro for some quick acoustic chords, an overexposure of bright pop guitars, and bass that’s actually audible (revealing Scott Shriner’s rather impressive work). The outro is also rearranged, nixing those somewhat-annoying spoken word backups for a neat little interplay between Rivers and Brian — which make for an admittedly dumb-as-hell refrain, “Waste my days (and get a job).”

There’s also the Franklin Mint remix that was issued as the b-side to the US retail CD-single for the song, which is basically drummer Wilson rebuilding the song as a piece of MIDI muzak. Hm.

The other clutch of “Keep Fishin’” variants we have are from the exhaustively-documented Maladroit sessions, as offered for MP3 download on as they unfolded (and before Geffen realized what was happening and ended the band’s generosity). The very earliest we have is from the DC Demos of 5/27/01, when bass duties were still carried by Mikey Welsh. It’s a sloggier, slower version that is otherwise unremarkable. By that December’s Extended Hyper Midget Tour, Shriner had replaced Welsh; we have two takes from successive nights of that month, which were “shred-worthy” in Cuomo’s post-facto opinion, but ultimately disposable.

From here, we have thirteen versions from the Maladroit sessions dating from December 20th ’01 to the following February 13th. A fine tune, but no thanks.