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.