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Lover In The Snow

I’m not sure how this song originally leaked, but by the time of its official release on Rivers Cuomo’s Alone demo compilation of 2007, “Lover In The Snow” was a familiar recording to Weezer die-hards. It’s a rare artifact from the Dark Ages of Weezer, the 1997-1999 period during which Cuomo quietly remodeled his craft after the fallout of Pinkerton; in fact, by my count this is one of just 10 stellar songs we have from the unbelievably inspired year of 1997 (we have just one from 1998, Alone‘s “Crazy One,” and then three from 1999: “New Joint,” “My Brain,” the “Island in the Sun” demo, plus “Always,” which was written in ’99, then recorded and released as a Green b-side in 2001). Weezer fans have long salivated at the prospect of the floodgates opening on this prolific and mysterious era.

Unexpectedly enough, this song is in fact a product of Cuomo’s post-Pinkerton anti-emotionalism. As Cuomo notes in the Alone booklet:

After [Pinkerton] came out, I started looking for a new, more minimalistic, less personal style. One of the first things I tried was fantasy-based songs — imagining a Romantic, flowery, tragic and/or mystical setting and then describing it with words and music.

It’s a little hard to believe, because “Lower In The Snow” seethes with angst and disappointment. Even Cuomo was surprised: “I was amazed that this song seemed to be just as powerful and emotional as my personal songs, even though it was all fantasy, an imagined experience that never happened.”

Most would be cautious to equate any of Weezer’s post-Pinkerton work with that fantastic album, but “Lover In The Snow” proves that Cuomo was still on fire a year later. The “Romantic minimalism” of the song is characterized by references to “the shady glen” and chivalrous kisses to the hand. The lyrics are complemented by the fittingly spare arrangement — little more than a thick, dirty electric guitar, a tambourine ‘n’ handclaps rhythm track, and Cuomo’s voice (lead and backups). In its design, both lyrical and musical, it is a one-of-a-kind entry in the Weezer canon, and one that is as successful as any of Cuomo’s previous work. As I posited in my own review of Alone, it’s Cuomo beating Spoon at their own game (and predicting their signature sound well before they found it themselves).

I love the image of “the lover in the snow” — such a simple turn of phrase that takes the familiar tale of being cheated on and makes it into something unique. “Lying with you / Down in the snow / Letting him do / All of the things that he wants to” — great lyrics (need I point out the double entendre in “lying?”) applied to a plainly beautiful melody. To quote Evan Sawdy’s review of Alone for PopMatters:

[It] works simply because [it] rides on the single most accessible melody that Cuomo has ever penned. Being so sparse and simple, it’s doubtful that it would ever have gotten play on mainstream rock radio, but as it stands, it absolutely cries out for consideration on the inevitable Best of Weezer compilation.

Funnily enough, this is an example of Cuomo detaching his emotions from his music — and yet it’s a polar opposite from his later attempts to do the same, like, say “Crab.” I suppose Cuomo figured that even a song like “Lover In The Snow” remained too quirky and different to be a hit single, and continued to hone himself out of his art for the next three years towards The Green Album.

32 Comments

  1. Soyrev wrote:

    I’ve decided to make a tag called “The Very Best,” a selection of what I believe to be the very best in class of Weezer’s discography. “Lover In The Snow” is the inaugural; I’ve also gone back and tagged the songs I want to be in there, and will be adding future songs accordingly. I’ve also added “The Vest Worst” category (heh). It’s not easy, though (for example, I’m not sure if TWHTALMH and “Hash Pipe” should be considered the Very Best of Weezer [they’re close…], or if stuff like “The Dawn” or “Love Explosion” should be considered the Very Worst…I mean, maybe they used to be, but stuff like “Cold Dark World” and “This Is The Way” kind of set a new standard for awfulness). Either way, the tags can be found on the posts themselves, or accessed from the right sidebar on the mainpage.

    Anyhow: “Lover In The Snow” fucking rules!

    Monday, August 11, 2008 at 11:48 am | Permalink
  2. Alberto wrote:

    I don’t know what was Rivers thinking when he edited it for Alone, but anyway, it’s one of the best songs done in 4 tracks I’ve ever heard.

    Monday, August 11, 2008 at 11:50 am | Permalink
  3. Blinkoguy wrote:

    Great post on a great song. Love this song.

    Monday, August 11, 2008 at 3:53 pm | Permalink
  4. skiz65 wrote:

    i think i remember this appearing on the spreadsheet on rc.com back in the day, when songs would occasionally leak that way, and we were eagerly awaiting the day when we would log onto that site and the demos would be released “en masse”. you pretty much summed up how i feel about this song perfectly. oh how i wish we could hear everything from ’97 and ’98.

    Monday, August 11, 2008 at 3:53 pm | Permalink
  5. Sick Nick wrote:

    i miss rc.com. those days were magic. everyday held the possibility of a new gem or gems being unleashed. lover in the snow one day, come to my pod the next, chess after that. these were great times indeed.

    Monday, August 11, 2008 at 4:49 pm | Permalink
  6. King Tom wrote:

    This leaked before rc.com. I want to say early ’02, and Rivers gave it to someone on the RCB. And the response was then much like it was now- even though it didn’t have the explicit personal connection that Pinkerton’s songs had, it still was (or would have been) a worthy spiritual successor to Pinkerton.

    LITS is a really simple but beautiful song. For some reason (and I have this issue with a lot of demos, but mostly acoustic ones), I have a hard time imagining Weezer doing a full-band version of this. There would have been more than the dirty guitar (great description), handclaps and tambourine, and for me, with this song, less is more.

    I wonder why Rivers didn’t play this one live during the RCB/Homie shows, but did play Rosemary, 1000 Years, Baby, Little Sister, etc.

    Monday, August 11, 2008 at 5:36 pm | Permalink
  7. Soyrev wrote:

    King Tom, I may think LITS is the best (or damn close to) out of the 1997 crop, but still — songs like “1000 Years,” “Rosemary,” “Baby,” “Little Sister,” “Prettiest Girl…” and the Homie selections are all fucking fantastic. I think a fully fleshed out Homie album cut in 1997 (which I think was Cuomo’s prime as a vocalist, if not musician in general) could have rivaled the quality of Pinkerton (for a side project, no less! although, I do sort of wish Homie was the direction for Album 3…and the RCB songs could have been the jumpoff and earliest considerations for an equally brilliant A4). Even in light of TRA’s “creative freakouts,” I still think 1997 was Cuomo’s most adventurous (and successfully adventurous) year. Is there anything remotely like LITS in Cuomo’s repertoire? Or 1000 Years? Or Little Sister? I could go on and on…and they’re all A- to A+ songs!

    Even if this wasn’t an rc.com MP3, the prospect of possibly getting a fresh leak from the vaults with every waking day sounds lovely. The Alone series (?) is fantastic, but at this rate, we’ll never hear as many old Cuomo demos as we really ought to (frankly, I want to hear them all — every demo of every song, including duplicates). And shit, what about Weezer outtakes that aren’t just solo Cuomo recordings? I really wanna hear the early TGA recording sessions and rehearsals too. “Ahhh, no way~…”

    Monday, August 11, 2008 at 10:51 pm | Permalink
  8. Soyrev wrote:

    Also, yes, I think the minimalist approach to this song is awesome — but a full-band =W= version, if tastefully done, could be awesome. The verses would still have to be as spare as the demo’s, but the chorus (“Letting him fill you up with his wine”) could sound amazing with a second, thickly distorted, slightly feedbacky guitar and some big drums. If I ever put together a kick-ass band I’ll make sure we do a cover so I can show you what I’m hearing. 😉

    Monday, August 11, 2008 at 10:54 pm | Permalink
  9. s.o.s. wrote:

    LITS is one of my all-time favorite Rivers/Weezer songs. At first listen I was like “ok…what’s so great about this?” and then after a couple more listens I was like “man, I’m an idiot.”

    Tuesday, August 12, 2008 at 4:44 pm | Permalink
  10. tapegun wrote:

    s.o.s – that’s how i feel about a lot of rivers’ demos.

    soy – i am happy to see you are using my idea! 😉

    i like the song. a lot. but i still wouldn’t quite file it in “best of the best”, it might be a little too repetitive for my taste, and soy i do have to disagree about owning on spoon.

    of course i am a big spoon fan so, what can i say…i never saw the similarity, but in retrospect those handclaps do sound rather spoon-like.

    we had the computer unplugged for a few days and i missed the blog!!!

    Tuesday, August 12, 2008 at 6:49 pm | Permalink
  11. Soyrev wrote:

    Spoon’s music is defined by its simple, spare sound. “I Turn My Camera On,” “Me & the Bean,” “The Beast and Dragon Adored,” “Stay Don’t Go” are all examples of austere, spare rock’n’roll at its best. Even their most experimental moments, like “Paper Tiger,” are examples of minimalism used to a brilliant end (that song’s in my top 20 favorite songs of all time). But even though Spoon is often simply amazing — that is to say, amazing in its simplicity — they are just as often simply boring. I don’t ever have to listen to “Someone Something” again.

    When I heard “Lover In The Snow,” I immediately felt a huge Spoon vibe — it’s simple, it’s spare, it’s rock’n’roll. Is it better than a masterpiece like “Paper Tiger?” No. But for the most part, I’d say this is Cuomo beating Spoon at their own game; it might not scorch their entire discography, but I’d say about 90% of it. It’s all the more impressive because, as far as we know, it’s a hole-in-one for him — Cuomo never attempted this sound before or since.

    And to make the comparison even more apt, Britt Daniel is apparently a devout yellow feverist, as well. : P

    Tuesday, August 12, 2008 at 7:01 pm | Permalink
  12. tapegun wrote:

    dude have you heard “ga ga ga ga” yet?

    i am only a layman musicologist (and not a very smart one at that) but it’s got much more texture and depth to it than the last two albums. this is coming from someone who loved spoon back in the day (i saw them live back in 98) it is a nice change of pace…

    its like a breath of fresh air compared to the dark sounds of ‘gimmie fiction’ and ‘kill the moonlight’.

    Wednesday, August 13, 2008 at 6:30 pm | Permalink
  13. Soyrev wrote:

    It’s pretty textured stuff, yes, but for the most part it’s still spare ol’ Spoon. There are (awesome) exceptions to that like “Cigarette Case” and “Finer Feelings,” but the opener and closer are pretty straightup…”The Ghost Of You Lingers” is weird, but still pretty much the bare essentials for what it wants to achieve (I don’t like that song — shitty “Paper Tiger” retread, in my opinion). “Cherry Bomb” and “Underdog” have some arrangement flourishes, but are simple songs themselves…and ther rest never made much of an impression on me, so I can’t really comment there. But yeah, GGGGG (five Gas, not four) is definitely Spoon continuing to expand and complicate their sound a little — although I definitely think simplicity is their trademark, and strongsuit.

    Girls Can Tell is my favorite Spoon album, and even then I hardly think it’s a successful “full album.” I like them more on a song-by-song basis, really.

    Wednesday, August 13, 2008 at 6:52 pm | Permalink
  14. tapegun wrote:

    it is simple and straightforward but for me – there is something abstract and/or deep about the music. it might just be the combination of britt’s voice, lyrics, and the band’s sound that gets me.

    every song sounds “important” (that’s not quite the word i am looking for but it fits)…something that weezer has lost.

    totally agree on “ghost” – although experiencing the song (and most of the album live) really changed the way i thought of it…i still skip it – but damn – 7 feet away and feeling it pounding in your chest and hearing that echo effect on his voice makes you appreciate it a little more.

    anyway….

    Wednesday, August 13, 2008 at 7:51 pm | Permalink
  15. Soyrev wrote:

    I wouldn’t say every Spoon song is “important” to the band, or particularly worth revisiting, but they certainly have maintained a consistency of quality, and a sense of sincerity and authenticity (all things Weezer has lost).

    And yes, Britt has a fantastic (but quirky and weird) rock’n’roll voice. Fits the music very well.

    I too saw Spoon live recently, and “Ghost” definitely…left an impression. Physically. I felt that song in my chest, through force of sheer volume alone. Not sure if I really enjoyed it or not, but a couple of my friends did.

    Oh, and Spoon was horrifically boring live. Maybe it was just an off night, but it was total going-through-the-motions, comparable to Weezer at their worst. This was last September, by the way.

    Wednesday, August 13, 2008 at 8:00 pm | Permalink
  16. tapegun wrote:

    Yeah, the word authentic fits as well. It’s like every song was carefully crafted, recorded and delivered like it has an important message (whether or not this is the case is unimportant to me)…
    weezer seems to go through the motions (most especially in maladroit and make believe) none of that “hitting you in the gut” stuff that makes you feel alive. Although red showed some signs of changing that attitude.
    i had a pretty good show myself. but it was a great audience as well. i was in Houston and i think the band felt “back home” and the feeling energized the band.

    Thursday, August 14, 2008 at 7:10 am | Permalink
  17. Soyrev wrote:

    Yeah, the audience in Philly largely seemed to be there just because Spoon was the hippest show to go to that week (no singalongs, no dancing), so I can see how the band would reciprocate that laziness. Sucked for those of us who actually liked ’em, though.

    Thursday, August 14, 2008 at 8:37 am | Permalink
  18. zxcvb wrote:

    I believe it leaked through the RCB (board). Nice entry — I just wish you waited until the winter to do it!

    You might have also mentioned the clipping of the second chorus/bridge (“taking him in and letting me go…”) on the Alone version.

    Thursday, August 14, 2008 at 1:33 pm | Permalink
  19. Soyrev wrote:

    Winter would’ve been appropriate…but the randomized track selection for this blog is a strict mistress.

    I don’t even have the original, “RCB Version” of the demo anymore. What was clipped out?

    Thursday, August 14, 2008 at 3:47 pm | Permalink
  20. Sacamus wrote:

    I haven’t listened to the original RCB version in a while but I have a feeling that the “letting you fill you up with his wine” section was repeated.

    I’m dying to dig out the long version now 🙂

    Thursday, August 14, 2008 at 6:11 pm | Permalink
  21. zxcvb wrote:

    Yup. Like Sacamus said, that section was originally repeated at the end of the second chorus…but edited out in the Alone version.

    I have to admit, the section isn’t quite as strong as the rest of the song (which is pure bliss). Methinks it was an editorial decision by RC and not a length/Geffen issue.

    Friday, August 15, 2008 at 7:51 pm | Permalink
  22. Soyrev wrote:

    Yeah, I definitely doubt Geffen made that call; they’re letting “This Is The Way” and “The Bomb” out there unmolested, so I don’t see what they could find to object to in LITS.

    That said, I agree with Cuomo’s edit here (not so much in “Blast Off!,” though even that I’m okay with). As it is, LITS is perfectly trim, concise and purposed; more (or less) would be to its detriment.

    Friday, August 15, 2008 at 10:17 pm | Permalink
  23. Dicky Doodle wrote:

    One of Rivers’ best.. if Weezer had done it, it would have been one of the band’s best too. I’m not sure how they could have pulled it off though. The sparse sound that you mentioned is really part, if not most of, the charm.

    The great unique guitar riff, excellent melody and passionate lyrics make this a definite contender for a Weezer best of, I couldn’t agree more.

    Saturday, August 16, 2008 at 5:59 pm | Permalink
  24. farmerpete wrote:

    Little know fact:

    Shady Glen is well known local Ice cream shop/Restaurant two towns over from where Rivers grew up. (just positing that that might be what put the phrase in his head).

    Saturday, November 1, 2008 at 1:04 am | Permalink
  25. Soyrev wrote:

    That’s very interesting, actually. I bet that’s where he got his Shakespearian, “Romantic imagery” from…oh Rivers.

    Saturday, November 1, 2008 at 10:56 am | Permalink
  26. OOS wrote:

    I’m posting here to:

    a) Say how much I absolutely LOVE this song.

    and,

    b) Ask, what are the 10 other songs written in 1997?

    Saturday, February 7, 2009 at 4:39 pm | Permalink
  27. Soyrev wrote:

    10 that WE have…There are a few more than that in existence.

    http://web227.xps8.microserver.de/ng/COR.html

    Saturday, February 7, 2009 at 5:54 pm | Permalink
  28. OOS wrote:

    Okay, thanks. Some songs there that I didn’t know about, like 1000 Years and Little Sister. Man, a Homie album would have been so amazing.

    Sunday, February 8, 2009 at 10:40 am | Permalink
  29. Soyrev wrote:

    Yes, though “1000 Years” and “Little Sister” wouldn’t have been on it…Those were both Rivers Cuomo Band songs, meaning they were potential “Weezer tryout” tracks.

    “Little Sister” I don’t particularly mind having gotten lost in the shuffle. “1000 Years” is another story, though.

    Sunday, February 8, 2009 at 10:48 am | Permalink
  30. OOS wrote:

    Don’t know why I never replied to this.

    Yeah, 1000 Years and LS wouldn’t have been on it, but Homie would’ve still been amazing, and those could’ve made great A3 songs.

    In regards to Little Sister, there’s something there that I like. I think that it needs a better quality recording. But I can imagine that chorus (LITTLE SISTER! LITTLE SISTER!) with those stuttering guitars being intense in a good recording.

    Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 10:18 pm | Permalink
  31. Oldmancane wrote:

    This song takes the themes of jealousy and stolen love of No One Else and No Other One, to a whole different plane: imo, the highest possible plane. Lover in the Snow is Cuomo’s songwriting at its very best.
    By the way Soy, this blog is really great: hope you keep it up till every damn little snippet or melody is covered. 🙂

    Saturday, February 19, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Permalink
  32. andybedingfield wrote:

    ^agreed.

    Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 10:47 am | Permalink

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