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Simple Pages

Although “Simple Pages” is far from the ranks of Weezer’s universally detested, I have never understood the hatred some have for this particular little ditty from the second side of The Green Album.

Admittedly, it’s placement towards the latter end of a numbingly formulaic song set might mark the exact moment that people begin to tire of the unchanging guitar tone, repetitive progressions and rehashed lyrical tropes — a possibility supported by the fact that the next song on the record, “Glorious Day,” is probably the most hated on the album — but even then, I don’t really see it. The lyrics do seem a bit tepid and generic at first glance, joining the half of the album that is ostensibly about nothing in particular (“Hash Pipe,” “Crab,” “Smile,” “Glorious Day”), but after having spent some years with the song I think it’s one of the more effective compositions on the record. There’s a cool, split coherence to the verses that I really like…

Gimme some love, gimme some love, gimme some / I want you to know!
Gimme some love, gimme some love, sugar / That’s the wrong wrong way to go
Open your arms, open your arms honey, and come right back home to me
Gimme some love, gimme some love, sugar / That’s the wrong wrong way to be

Aside from simply being a series of consonants and vowels that sound nice together (especially when wedded to such an inanely catchy melody), this seems to be a song (perhaps subconsciously) about love, and — in lines about “The hard rock radio / Where they play tunes, where they play tunes, where they play riffs with the hard rock beat!” — rock’n’roll. And in that wonderfully concise, lifting bridge — “Give me something I can believe!” — there’s something to be said for how it all ties together: this is a song about finding transcendence, be it through a relationship or a great song you find on the radio. It’s got a very youthful heart beating behind its assaultive vocal rhythms; “Simple Pages” is indeed a teenage victory song. (Which does add up, considering Rivers Cuomo was but a young buck when he was most interested in hard rock; in fact, the lyrical reference and general semi-coherency could be considered a harbinger for what was to come on the following year’s Maladroit, although I think this song’s lyrics work much better than most of what’s on that record.)

Speaking of that bridge, Brian Bell’s orgasmic “OHH, BA-BY” backup vocal — a bit of a throwback to side one’s excellent “Photograph” — is perhaps my favorite little moment on Green. It’s got a sort of traipsing momentum that provides a real nice respite from the breathless verses, and sets up the vocal melody guitar solo perfectly. But unlike the adamantly strophic and repetitive structures of the rest of Green, the song is far from over now: Pat Wilson provides a few of his most animated drum rolls on the album, and halfway through what would be the concluding verse, Bell reappropriates the “gimme some love” lead yrics as a backup, while Cuomo dances in melodies far above. In a rare instance of counterpoint and duelling vocal melodies, we find the most musically complex movement of Green. Which doesn’t necesarily say much — but even when removed from the unchanging context of the album, it comes across as a nice little slice of pop/rock heaven.

The song was played with considerable regularity throughout the Green tours, and resurfaced in 2002 by the grace of the Hyper Extended Midget Tour’s randomized setlists, where it was only improved by a scorching new solo and some nice added harmonies from Bell. I certainly wouldn’t mind its return to the live set in 2010, but I understand why it hasn’t been played in years: the first couple seconds of the song are pratically identical to the band’s 2005 hit “Perfect Situation,” and even momentarily confusing the crowd would be a faux pas for the populist Cuomo of today.


33 Comments

  1. Soyrev wrote:

    Also worth noting is that as much as I love the Green version, All Things Weezer forum member Fak thoroughly improved this song with his gorgeous acoustic cover. Can someone post that thing? The piano solo KILLS me!

    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 4:11 pm | Permalink
  2. clore wrote:

    Brian Bell’s “Oh Baby!” lyric is also one of my favorite moments on Green. In an album inundated with double-tracked Rivers, this moment truly shines.

    I really dig this song — it has really grown on me over time. Glad it got the Grand Playlist treatment it deserves!

    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 5:06 pm | Permalink
  3. Terrellx wrote:

    Grand playlist! This is the song that convinced me to buy TGA.

    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 5:44 pm | Permalink
  4. runnersdialzero wrote:

    Meh. Verse is okay, but the intro/chorus section is offensively awful. And the lyrics, particularly the, “Simple pages on my mind,” line is possibly the absolute worst of Rivers’ “lyrics for the sake of having lyrics” mentality at the time because there’s not even the slightest hint of cohesion, here, and the “Simple pages” line means absolutely nothing.

    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 5:47 pm | Permalink
  5. danup wrote:

    This is my favorite part of the back half of Green. And in an album full of great small moments, the guitar that comes in between “can’t you see” and “where to be” is one that I always come back to as a synecdoche for the rest of Green. It’s got the chugging rhythm guitar; the weird, intermittent lead; the mid-tempo, marching drums; and Rivers doing his weird faux-British robot thing.

    All of the album’s weird tropes, many of them unique to Green in the Weezer catalogue, in one place.

    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 5:48 pm | Permalink
  6. runnersdialzero wrote:

    Not the “chorus” so much, but the “Give me something I can believe” section is the one I found offensively bad. So, so awful.

    The “Oh baby” does nothing for me – it almost sounds like it was just pasted in from “Photograph” and had its pitch changed.

    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 5:50 pm | Permalink
  7. Melack wrote:

    The chorus is my favorite part of this song. I find the melody to be quite sad, something that is even more highlighted in the fantastic cover by fak that you mentioned. There is something longing and beautiful in it’s sadness.

    We all know the shortcomings of the arrangement and production of this album. And I think that the melody of this chorus could be even more amazing in another costume.

    “Simple pages oon my miiind”, great melody and it gets me everytime. Works as a great contrast for the more upbeat and super catchy ditties that is the verses.

    I’m a huge The Green Album fan and this is one of the albums most underrated tunes. I really like it! Very, very deserving of being on The Grand Playlist.

    Love the youtube clip that you posted, it’s from a Swedish festival called Hultsfreds Festivalen. It was the last time they were here and it will probably remain that 🙁

    Even though I was too young to go to the concert itself, to my happiness the whole concert was broadcoasted on Swedish television. I remember being so stoked! I was mostly a Pinkerton only fan at this moment so It was disappointing that the only played “Tired of Sex” from my favorite album.

    But the concert was still great it actually helped me fall in love with The Blue Album, an album I had a hard time getting into because I discovereed Pinkerton first.

    I especially remember being blown away by “Surf Wax America” from this concert.

    Sorry for my little nostalgic rant there.

    Anyway “Simple Pages” is great and a personal favorite of mine. It gets a four star ranking from me on itunes!

    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 7:18 pm | Permalink
  8. tsarczar wrote:

    This is my favorite off the Green Album. I understand other people’s lack of passion for it though.

    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 7:27 pm | Permalink
  9. Melack wrote:

    Like I said, I really, really like this song. But when i think about it, it’s not even top five on The Green Album for me.

    Things like that makes me realise that I really LOVE The Green Album.
    Far and away the best Post-Pinkerton album for me.

    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 7:30 pm | Permalink
  10. noobcakesmcgee wrote:

    Really like this song. Upon first listen, it was the only song of the back half of Green that really stood out to me (although O Girlfriend quickly was stuck in my head as well). And that melody is, as you so very well put it, inanely catchy.

    As for the lyrics, I remember an amusing post someone made on the boards a while ago that theorized that Simple Pages was about Rivers’ transition to simple, straightfoward pop songs. As in “simple pages on my mind” = simple pop. But that’s probably another forced stretch to try and render Green lyrics with some meaning.

    (Cool solo on the vid, too!)

    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 8:34 pm | Permalink
  11. noobcakesmcgee wrote:

    I dug up that post:

    Simple Pages

    “Can’t you see,
    we’re to be, this time,
    simple pages on my mind”

    Rivers is letting the listener know that from now on he’s only going to be writing simple pop songs, “simple pages”, instead of complex raw Pinkerton-esque songs. He wants to write radio friendly songs like those found on Blue.

    “Kick it on back, kick it on back, kick it on back to what you know
    Gimme some love, gimme some love, sugar on the hard rock radio”

    http://www.allthingsweezer.com/forum/index.php?topic=416.0

    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 9:19 pm | Permalink
  12. Melack wrote:

    Couldn’t really care less what this song is about. It’s all about the melodies for me! 🙂

    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 9:41 pm | Permalink
  13. Thrillhouse wrote:

    Wait, i thought there were no band backup vocals, that is to say, i thought it was only Rivers vocals on this album, including the back-ups?

    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 9:57 pm | Permalink
  14. charlie wrote:

    When the Green Album came out and I was 15 I listened to this song over and over and over. The melodies and harmonies are gorgeous and addicting; this song is forever ingrained into my brain. I think it’s genius, and I’m glad to see others like it too.

    I would love to be able to solo each track of this song. Or hear a demo.

    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 10:47 pm | Permalink
  15. Art Vandelay wrote:

    ‘simple pages’ is a meaningless phrase, and it drives me up the wall when people try to wring some kind of message out of this song.

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 12:16 am | Permalink
  16. Melack wrote:

    A song doesn’t need to have any special meaning to be good.

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 12:40 am | Permalink
  17. ThomYorke wrote:

    You know, Art, I don’t think there’s any harm in adding your own meaning to lyrics like these.

    Whether Rivers meant to or not, the vagueness of the lyrics on the entire album give the listener the ability to apply almost any meaning they want to it.

    I know I have always added meaning to each of the songs on Green. I think this quirk to the album is one more reason Green is still predominately believed to still be their 3rd best album.

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 8:06 am | Permalink
  18. waitingandwaiting wrote:

    This defines Green as a great summer cruising album

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 8:17 am | Permalink
  19. OOS wrote:

    Eh. The melody here seems… I dont know, somethings off about it. It seems like it was the first thing Cuomo thought up.

    And the intro sucks. Other then that, it’s generally innoffensive, though I would certainly take Smile over this (and all of Green barring IITS)

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 8:37 am | Permalink
  20. Brownerton wrote:

    I really hate when Rivers does his own harmonies. That nearly spoils the song (and album) for me.

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 4:19 pm | Permalink
  21. Sick Nick wrote:

    This was one of my favorites when green came out. The “Gimme some loooooove” bit at the end is the only moment I felt Rivers had any emotion in his voice on this record.

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 4:49 pm | Permalink
  22. ThomYorke wrote:

    O Girlfriend sounds as sincere to me too, though.

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 4:51 pm | Permalink
  23. Soyrev wrote:

    Runners: It’s perfectly tenable to conclude that the “Simple pages on my mind” line is a reflection of Rivers Cuomo’s songwriting acumen (and lifestyle) at this point in his life. That’s just about as easy to glean from the song as is, say, the subversion looming behind the words of “King.” And I think my insights into the meaning of the rest of the song stand for themselves.

    Art: Thanks for giving me a great opportunity to say that regardless of whether or not the meaning I’ve interpreted in the song was Cuomo’s intention upon writing it, that distinction is completely immaterial. My interpretation is supported just fine by the song’s text, and hence it lives comfortably within the song. This is what English professors call “death of the author,” and it’s essential to just about all kinds of modern literary analysis.

    It’s multi-interpretable lyrics is actually to the song’s credit: much of Maladroit would be similarly obtuse, but those lyrics are so cramped and claustrophobic (and terrible) that there’s really no way to glean anything from them; Make Believe was actually about clear and concrete things again, but the very closed and specific meaning of dead lines like “my poor brain is gonna pop” only make things worse. Songs like “Simple Pages” and “Crab” seem to be about something without really being about anything — and that’s pretty cool, yo.

    Danup: Great point! In some ways, “Simple Pages” is the quintessential Green song. (Far from the best, though…)

    Melack: Apologize not for your Swedish tangent! It was very cool to read.

    Thrillhouse: Green vocals are almost entirely Rivers, but there are definite exceptions — most audibly Brian backups on “Simple Pages” and “Photograph.” There’s a possibility that he or Mikey did the “ooohhhs” on “Island In The Sun,” but I don’t really care to relisten right now. Sounds like Mikey on the chorus backups for “Teenage Victory Song” to me, too, and I think there may be some Brian in “Starlight.” Can’t relisten now but I’ll keep an ear out when they come up in the randomizer.

    Charlie: I’d love a demo of this song, too!

    waitingandwaiting: Great gym music too.

    Brownerton: Why? Out of principle, or does the sound simply annoy you?

    Thom: “O Girlfriend” definitely has real emotion in it, but that’s where the Green production fails in my opinion — it’s too compressed, simple and restrained for a song as emotional as “O Girlfriend,” and that’s why the album version has always sounded a little off to me. The live Toronto version is the one that really realizes the song’s potential, at least as far as Weezer’s ever bothered to try.

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 5:17 pm | Permalink
  24. Melack wrote:

    Yeah I also love the “Gimme some looooovee” part.

    He actually sounds like he means it.

    Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 4:29 am | Permalink
  25. blueguy wrote:

    never got all the hate this song and glorious days gets on ATW these days…but to each his own.

    as already mentioned this song really shines because of its ending…this is one of the few moments on the album that sounds like “old weezer” (at least on a musical level). it’s also great to not hear rivers harmonize with himself as well (also noted above).

    thinking of P:DE got me thinking about the possibility of a Green Deluxe…i honestly don’t know if it would happen (then again it sold much more than Pinkerton…)

    does anyone think they would go back and try to give this album a real total re-mix? I feel like it needs some room to breathe. they could really bring out the other vocals from brian and mikey, along with just de-compressing the damn thing. i would be more excited about the re-mix than hearing the unreleased songs (if done as it could be done).

    well, maybe i would take that back that last statement if some good stuff was unearthed…but the past couple of demos that we have heard have not been that great.

    Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 6:13 pm | Permalink
  26. Soyrev wrote:

    I would be all for a Green Deluxe, though I think any kind of substantial remix (aside from a shitty “remaster” that will probably only compress it further) is just a fanboy pipedream. Unless the band is broken up by that point and their own collective interest anymore is in their past, this is far too much an “in the present moment” band to basically re-envision a past record of theirs.

    Still, there’s a wealth of as-yet-unreleased material that could be mined for bonus material. The album and its b-sides could fill up disc 1 alone, and then disc 2 could have stuff that the fans have always wanted, like “Burning Sun” and “No Way,” along with whatever else of quality is still out there. The band was demoing and recording like hell from 2000 through the release of the record, so I’m sure there’s gotta be some pretty good stuff in the mix…and if they really wanted to go all out, they could dig back to the earliest “album 3” sessions from ’98. Even if it’s not all totally great material, it’d be awesome to have more stuff from the vault in circulation.

    Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 8:01 pm | Permalink
  27. ThomYorke wrote:

    *sigh* Burning Sun, how I want you.

    Friday, December 11, 2009 at 7:47 am | Permalink
  28. Jonny wrote:

    For me, this song comes in second after Oh Girlfriend on Green. I’m not too excited about the intro build-up or the chorus, but Rivers’ singing towards the end is probably one of the few really enjoyable post pinkerton moments for me.

    Also, fun to see the live version, was at the show myself. Having seen them in Stockholm in ’96, of course I thought the ’01 version of Weezer was crap, but comparing to the playground they’ve turned the stage into nowadays, I’ve sortof come to value the Green era in a new light.

    Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 4:54 am | Permalink
  29. Soyrev wrote:

    I definitely dig Green, and while I think I would either way, the band definitely have their own subpar output post-Green to thank for its recent reappraisal among fans (and even some critics).

    Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 4:20 pm | Permalink
  30. OOS wrote:

    I always enjoyed Green, its simply great pop. Could it have been better? Frick yes. Even some minor track rearranging couldve done some good (for instance, I Do tacked on to the beggining of DLG, throwing in Always somewhere in the second half, maybe MB?). Id really like to see a deluxe release if only for the chance for some good quality RCB/Homie demos surfacing (and maybe some 97/98?), though knowing the band now, they’d probably just throw in a bunch of faceless 2000 tracks and call it a day.

    Saturday, December 19, 2009 at 10:56 am | Permalink
  31. Soyrev wrote:

    Going through the drafts of unfinished posts, I unearthed this quotation from Rivers himself that I meant to use in this post! It’s being said to Ridd in 2002.

    “I know what you’re saying about the [vocal] belting; the end of Simple Pages is one of my favorite moments on the Green Album.”

    Mine too, Varz!

    Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 3:51 am | Permalink
  32. nonnymouse wrote:

    i’ve been repeating this song a lot lately, and really really like it. Pretty crazy regarding the connection as someone mentioned above, relating it to rivers simplifying his lyrics for the green album. Crazy in the way in how much it fits and makes this song just that much more awesome.

    Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Permalink
  33. ThomYorke wrote:

    Indeed, NonnyMouse. I also think Noobcakes was spot on regarding simple pages meaning. As usual, what many fans initially write off as total bunk has buried meaning, even if it isn’t particularly deep.

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

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