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Haunt You Every Day

Whereas Cuomo boasted on the Rivers Correspondence Board of “world domination” and the “millions of new fans” that would be replacing his current ones after 2001’s triumphant return, Maladroit‘s immediate failure quickly cut at the heels of Cuomo’s engorged ego and the band’s renewed confidence. While sessions for Weezer’s fifth outing had begun a couple of months before the fourth one’s release, the inability of “Dope Nose” and “Keep Fishin'” to make any more of an impact than modest chartings in U.S. Modern Rock stopped the sessions in their tracks. Word of Album Five’s quick arrival were soon silenced.

That silence sustained over the next couple of years, until word began to spread that Weezer was working with producer Rick Rubin. For the third time in a row, Weezer released an album in the second week of May, this time in 2005. After three long, unexpected years of waiting, Make Believe had finally arrived.

I thought about introducing this album with “Beverly Hills,” the first single (and sampling) of the record that the fans could hear, but ultimately, I think “Haunt You Every Day” is a better metaphor for Make Believe as a whole. It was born out of a song experiment wherein Rubin told Cuomo to write a song “like Elton John or Billy Joel,” which Cuomo says failed, but did get him to write his first song written on the piano (one wonders if that means “Longtime Sunshine” and “I Do” were written on guitar then transferred to piano, or if Cuomo was simply forgetting/disregarding those songs…I would think the latter).

From a songwriting perspective, it’s one of the better songs the band has come up with in the new millennium. Musically, it’s a melancholy melange of heavy-hearted piano chords and an eerie guitar lead, which explodes in the chorus (classic quiet/loud structure), amid a tortured, yearning guitar groan and some surprisingly nice counterpoint in Brian Bell’s backing vocal. The guitar solo even sounds like something that could have fit on Pinkerton, if not just a bit dog-leashed, as does the second guitar solo with Cuomo’s vocal scatting on the outro (reminds me a little bit of how Matt Sharp sang along to the solo of “El Scorcho,” albeit in a much darker context). The lyrics are filled with some pretty painful cliches and easy rhymes (“I don’t feel the joy / I don’t feel the pain / You were just a toy / I am just insane”), but Cuomo’s heartfelt inflection (present on Make Believe, for the first time on a Weezer record since ’96) and some nice imagery make it passable.

Still, something is terribly, terribly off here – the production. The mix. The sound of it. It’s as though one were applying Green production to Pinkerton songs (well, not Pinkerton per se). In fact, Make Believe is even more polished and shiny than Green — it’s sterile. Precious little life can be found within these tracks, so airtight and mechanical that it sounds like the work of studio androids. And for the first time in three records, one can say that Cuomo can’t be entirely blamed for this failing: this time, it’s the production that really sucks the life out of the songs. With Green and Maladroit, the songs had hardly any soul to begin with; here, whatever soul there was once has been thoroughly ironed out.

Which is not to say that all songs on Make Believe are, from a songwriting perspective, as pretty darn good as “Haunt You Every Day.” But, from best to worst, with this album, everything is just slightly off, for one reason or another. Most of the time, that reason concerns production.

Starting with Pinkerton, Weezer has always, in time, regretted the album they made. With that one, Rivers felt it was too personal, akin to getting drunk, having a cathartic moment of self-revelation at a party, then waking up the following morning and realizing how badly you embarrassed yourself (his words, not mine). With Green, the band would fess up to the production being too glossy and the songs being underdeveloped. Around the time of Make Believe‘s release, a typically diplomatic Bell admitted that on Maladroit, “the band’s tight, and we’re playing riffs. It [could] have been an album of that. Instead, I’m a bit confused when I hear it…I like some of the material on it, but the sound of it doesn’t do much for me.” And by the time of The Red Album, bassist Scott Shriner would explain Make Believe as simply having been “where our heads were at at the time.”

Interestingly enough, in a press release shortly after Make Believe‘s release, Bell was already saying that he wished they could re-record this song to be more like the way they played it on subsequent tours. A perusal of the few versions available at Weerez don’t seem to reveal any particular difference, however. Perhaps he was chalking it up to the production, too.

38 Comments

  1. Martin wrote:

    I remember coming home from school on 5/5/05 with no Weezer tickets in my hands. Weezer was set to play a show in Detroit that night, one of the earlier MB tour dates. I had abstained from all leaks, I was completely unfamiliar with any of the new material except for Beverly Hills, which I loved. My mom called me to the staircase and said, “Martin! Kemp (my guitar teacher) is on the phone!” “What does he want?”, I asked somewhat apathetically. She replied, “He’s got two Weezer tickets that he says we can come get from him.”

    That had to be the best musical moment in my life since the first time I pressed the Play button on my Walkman and entered My Name is Jonas.

    As the show unfolded I knew one thing was certain, Weezer was back and better than ever. I loved the new material. It was electric and heartfelt. “This is our last song”, Cuomo spoke to the audience as he held up his hand in a gesture for silence. Brian was sitting at a piano. From the first opening notes, I knew that the song was going to be magical.

    As Haunt You Every Day’s verses unfolded I could plainly hear how beautiful it was. An apathetic Rivers; almost a fusion of Maladroit’s “I just don’t care” and Pinkerton’s “I need a hand in mine to feel”. Not only did Rivers feel no happiness, he felt no sadness. He didn’t even love the girl he was with, he just needed something.

    When the chorus erupted I saw Rivers standing on the stage completely still from the neck down, but crooning at the top of his lungs “Oh! So alone in love!” This was, for me, the definitive moment of the show. It was more magical than hearing the opening ride hits to Tired of Sex, it was more meaningful than the belting bridge of Say It Ain’t So, and it was more powerful than any guitar solo, lyric, or melody that the night had previously offered.

    Finally, all the instruments cut out for Rivers to repeat, “Walking on my own, leaving you behind, you are crying out that you need to speak your mind.” And then, it was back to the powerful chorus. It was a dynamic Weezer had mastered all too well, and it was rarely present on Green or Maladroit. Rivers seemed to be the saddest and loneliest person in the world as he hummed along with the song’s final notes.

    Make Believe is my favorite Weezer album. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s just the nostalgia of the time when I heard it, or the excitement of my first weezer show being on the ‘Make Believe’ tour. Either way, I know that seeing the song performed live was a definitive moment for me. It even trumped the Undone/Good Life encore. Excitedly, I went home that night and decided to start writing music, forever changing my life.

    (No joke.)

    Thursday, July 17, 2008 at 11:17 am | Permalink
  2. Martin wrote:

    Also, the live version of Haunt You Every Day that the band wants to record have a longer piano intro with guitar licks few and far between. Brian Bell expressed, in the MB commentary, that he wished they could re-record the song on the album the way it is now presented live.

    Thursday, July 17, 2008 at 11:22 am | Permalink
  3. GumbyTom wrote:

    Martin- I was at that Detroit show also (and I have a hilarious (at least to me) story about getting into this conversation with some chick who was in a band). Unfortunately, I was on the other side of the fence–I heard the songs a few weeks before, and by the day of the show, knew every word.

    The live version was good–and something that I enjoy about HYED (and most of the rest of MB) is the variety of instruments used on the songs- the boys were branching out, trying pianos, synths, violins, even saxophones.

    And Martin, you’re dead on about the HYED performance at that show. Rivers owned that stage, and the song was, well, haunting. But in a good way.

    Thursday, July 17, 2008 at 3:06 pm | Permalink
  4. Martin wrote:

    YES oh my god there’s so much I want to talk about with you. How amazing was Hold Me that night? And he absolutely nailed the screams in Tired of Sex. I’d never heard WAOOD either, but it was electric. The whole crowd was roaring when they broke into that song. From the first opening notes I knew it would be special.

    Even now, when I listen to the CD version of WAOOD and I start to think the song might not be that great, I recall that first night I heard it and how it felt to be in that crowd.

    Thursday, July 17, 2008 at 3:13 pm | Permalink
  5. tapegun wrote:

    martin, that’s a great post.

    personally, i just have never been able to get into that song. i gave it a second (third?) chance a few months back but it didn’t take again.

    your post is great because its often how and when we hear a song in our lives that determines if we are going to like it.

    i tend to think we think of ourselves as being consistent in our tastes but i have found it’s often life circumstances that dictate what i tend to gravitate towards.

    my life is pretty pleasing now and when i popped in “in utero” a few weeks back, i enjoyed it but after a spin i was exhausted and didn’t want to hear it for awhile…(admittedly, i had to play “scentless apprentice” twice just to hear that magnificent drum sound again).

    anyway….

    Thursday, July 17, 2008 at 6:57 pm | Permalink
  6. GumbyTom wrote:

    Hold Me was great that night, as was Peace. I was surprised to see them incorporate the keyboards/synthesizers into their live shows from that (And all the musical chairs they did with Brian to keys, Bobby in on guitar) for those songs. If I recall correctly, they didn’t play one song off of Maladroit, which, at the time, was surprising to me.

    I also think Brian did Getchoo at that show, and he turned in a solid performance. It’s a shame that one was never bootlegged, because I enjoyed it (and have him doing lead on Why Bother from a few other shows).

    It was especially great to have them play after Ringside. I wasn’t too impressed with them, which contributed to my drinking during that show.

    Martin, I’m glad you had such a good experience that you still remember it when you hear the songs to this day.

    Thursday, July 17, 2008 at 8:21 pm | Permalink
  7. Soyrev wrote:

    In Utero is some good shit, Tapegun.

    And yes, the complete omission of Maladroit from even just one setlist surprises me. D&D, “Burndt Jamb,” and “Fall Together” beg for a stage.

    Thursday, July 17, 2008 at 11:19 pm | Permalink
  8. This Is the Way wrote:

    At least HYED seems like a songwriting idea that was fully realised and conceived (though not necessarily recorded) with a greater level of conviction than the majority of Make Believe, which is primarily an array half baked idea that trails off into nothingness.

    Friday, July 18, 2008 at 3:23 am | Permalink
  9. Martin wrote:

    @Gumbyton

    Yeah, there was no Maladroit that night which I found surprising, but in hindsight I guess I shouldn’t have. I have the setlist saved, actually. I turned it into a playlist on my old iPod Mini. Brian absolutely nailed Getchoo that night. Hold Me was a lot like HYED that night in terms of a great performance with a lot of sincerity. I recall In The Garage being particularly amazing too. I really wish a bootleg of that show would surface.

    Also, thanks a lot tapegun.

    Friday, July 18, 2008 at 4:32 am | Permalink
  10. John wrote:

    Make Believe is my first Weezer record and although not my favorite =W= album it still holds fond memories and it does have some great songs, which are just dying for some more intimate production. HYED was one of my least favorite track but for the simple reason that i’m not too keen on the tune. However, Hold Me is a definitive Weezer track that should be remembered as a highlight of Make Believe as it combines simple pop, deep feelings and a classic Weezer finish – i just wish Brian Bells Vocals were more strong in it. Make Believe falls down because good songs are ruined my a moment of sheer awfulness – such as the chorus of My Best Friend lets the whole song down, their are loads more example but i cant be bothered to write them.

    P.S Are you (Martin) Oh Jonas from A6 boards?

    Wednesday, July 23, 2008 at 3:47 am | Permalink
  11. Martin wrote:

    Yeah John I’m ohjonas. Do you post there?

    Thursday, July 24, 2008 at 12:20 pm | Permalink
  12. John wrote:

    Well i was Yellowcamero – but i’ve forgotten my pass word and i haven’t gotten round to doing something about it – I’m a lurker. but I’ll pick up posting now things are slowing down their.

    P.S Your the best poster

    Thursday, July 24, 2008 at 1:39 pm | Permalink
  13. THOMYORKE wrote:

    Haunt You Every Day is phenomenal live, and I heard it for the first time just prior to MB release in Chicago at the Aragon. As usual, production doesn’t do this song justice; thus, you just have to hear it live to understand.

    Tuesday, July 29, 2008 at 9:46 pm | Permalink
  14. Art Vandelay wrote:

    Melodically, I think this is one of the better MB offerings, even if the lyrics are on the dumb side. But you’re right that the mix sucks most of the life out of it.

    On that subject, something else I would have mentioned in the article is the painfully obvious, sloppy pro-tools edit on the drum track that happens around 3:32. What

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 4:26 pm | Permalink
  15. Art Vandelay wrote:

    … lazy, lazy shenanigans.

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 4:27 pm | Permalink
  16. Soyrev wrote:

    Yeah, I never noticed it before, but that sounds terrible — as does a similar hiccup 10 seconds prior. What, Wilson couldn’t nail this simple-ass beat in a live take?

    MB really is the height of Weezer’s apathy toward their own music. It’s the sound of a band giving up.

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 7:59 pm | Permalink
  17. sandwiches wrote:

    this is probably my favorite song off of Make Believe, but i can’t agree more about the mixing leaving much to be desired. The guitar riffs after the “so alone in love” parts sound so toned down, and even from first listen i remember wishing the production was a little ballsier and really cranked those riffs to “11”

    Tuesday, September 16, 2008 at 10:11 pm | Permalink
  18. GuessWho wrote:

    Put me down as considering this to be the best song on Make Believe. Rivers showed more emotion in the vocals on this track than anything he’d done since Pinkerton, and the feelings of emptiness and despair his voice embeds in to each line make them seem so meaningful and personal even if the words themselves are simple and cliche. I thoroughly enjoyed the final guitar solo, especially when Rivers comes in to match the melody with just as much passion in his cries as he put in to any Blue or Pink song.

    As has been said repeatedly, the production really kills what could have been an even better song. There’s just too much raw passion in the guitar and vocal work for such a clean-cut, sterile production to do it justice. I can just hear the first guitar solo screaming to be let loose from its meticulously compressed, equalized cage.

    This, The Other Way, and Hold Me would just be magnificent to hear rerecorded with The Red Album’s production crew.

    Saturday, December 20, 2008 at 9:48 pm | Permalink
  19. Soyrev wrote:

    Yeah, this song definitely drips emotion, and it’s a good thing. Good call on TOW and “Hold Me,” too — I’d love to hear all of those w/ a little bit of room to breathe in the mix. Whenever I actually allow myself to listen to one of those songs, I’m pretty impressed, but the fucking mix and mastering job kill my motivation in terms of ever wanting to listen to them. Pretty unfortunate — I think “The Damage In Your Heart” could be added to the list of songs that would benefit immensely from a more open mix. (They all would have, but these songs would’ve gone from pretty good to really great in an instant)

    Sunday, December 21, 2008 at 8:31 am | Permalink
  20. Soyrev wrote:

    Man, the ending to this song is powerful. It really is a shame it didn’t get the full chance it deserved.

    Wednesday, January 7, 2009 at 12:09 pm | Permalink
  21. NoobcakesMcGee wrote:

    It’s really a shame that most of the MB songs didn’t get the chance they deserve. I think it has a lot more potential than retooling Maladroit or TRA does (in terms of production etc., not tracklisting).

    Wednesday, January 7, 2009 at 12:16 pm | Permalink
  22. GuessWho wrote:

    Reading your Longtime Sunshine entry, a reason occurred to me why I like this song so much. The music reminds me of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, especially that little lick in the chorus after the first “so alone in love”.

    Sunday, February 8, 2009 at 3:05 pm | Permalink
  23. OOS wrote:

    Yeah, MB had lots of potential that was let down due to awful production and mixing/mastering. Also, the tracklist sucked. I Was Made For You and Everybody Wants A Chance To Feel All Alone are frickin Blue album quality, and they didn’t make it.

    Also, I think that Beverly Hills would have done well with better production. That boom-boom-chop rhythm should have been at the forefront, really empowering and rocking. But it wasnt. Frick you, Rick Rubin!

    Sunday, February 8, 2009 at 4:11 pm | Permalink
  24. Soyrev wrote:

    “I Was Made For You” is definitely going to be on the Grand Playlist, but it’s def not on the par of anything on Blue. “Everybody Wants…” is awesome though, and the closest thing to Pinkerton status Cuomo had written in years (I think “Miss Sweeney,” “Pig,” and “The Angel And The One” best it though).

    And yes, “Beverly Hills” could’ve been a really fun song. Remember that demo, where Brian (and I guess Scott?) did the “gimme gimme!” in falsetto, rather than having some “Pretty Fly For A White Guy” chick do it? That alone made it 10x better. Put the drums up in the mix, make the production a little scrappier and you’re on the way to a really fun song…

    Sunday, February 8, 2009 at 4:41 pm | Permalink
  25. OOS wrote:

    While “I Was Made For You” isn’t in it’s current form on par with Blue-era, that riff and melody are amazing, and with some development it could be up there. Never got the chance, unfortunately. Also, yeah, BvH could have been really fun.

    Monday, February 9, 2009 at 10:28 pm | Permalink
  26. Dlh1231 wrote:

    I honestly think this is one of Weezer’s top 10-20 songs, and definitely deserves The Very Best. I considered a good, average Weezer song at first, but it really clicked with me after a few listens. I love everything about it, and it’s definitely the best song on Make Believe.

    Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Permalink
  27. Soyrev wrote:

    There’s something holding it back for me. Maybe the production. But would you seriously put it above any song on Blue or Pinkerton? Or as many as 10 of them?

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Permalink
  28. Dlh1231 wrote:

    I would put it above My Name is Jonas, maybe Surf Wax America or Holiday, No Other One… ranking these songs are really tough for me. I could spend all the time in the world ranking Weezer songs and hate the list the minute after I finish it, but I do think this could beat some 90’s songs.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Permalink
  29. Dlh1231 wrote:

    Ranking these songs is really tough for me… typos.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Permalink
  30. Burgess wrote:

    Man, take Make Believe, cut it down to the 10 best tracks, re-arrange track order, and change the awful title and cover art, and then you’d have by far the third best Weezer album.

    That was meant to be high praise, but it didn’t come out sounding like it. Haha.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Permalink
  31. Thunder wrote:

    I just listened to the entirety of Make Believe on good speakers. The parts where the compression doesn’t get a [i]chance[/i] to squash everything together (mainly intros) sound amazing. This song, for example. The sound of that piano in the intro is fucking gorgeous. Then the vocals come in, and the drums… it still sounds okay. Then there’s the typical chorus rockout and it sounds like fucking Californication.

    No, actually, on the whole, this album has WORSE production than Californication; with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, you at least know it’s just one singer, one guitar, a bass and a drumkit. Maybe occasionally some backing vocals or a little synth line. Whereas listening to this album closely has revealed a ton of very cool things that are completely buried; acoustic guitars, pianos, the Beverly Hills backing vocals… this album could’ve been an amazingly pleasant listen.

    Goddammit. [i]Fuck[/i] Rick Rubin. The amount of nonsense that guy comes up with, I wouldn’t be surprised if he deliberately came up and said “You know what would make this song sound even better?! A REALLY BAD DIGITAL EDIT TO THE DRUMS! DO IT TWICE!”
    I’m not even kidding. Ever read Anthony Kiedis’ autobiography, “Scar Tissue”? In it, there’s an interesting anecdote from the recording of Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Kiedis shows Rubin his lyrics for “Power of Equality”, and (paraphrasing here; don’t have the book on me to get the exact quote) Rubin replies “I’m not into the sociopolitical thing, but if you write a song about girls and cars, I’ll be happy to take a look at it.”
    The expected outcome: Kiedis decides to write such a song as a favour to Rubin and even ends up hating it himself.

    Monday, August 16, 2010 at 4:38 am | Permalink
  32. Thunder wrote:

    Aww. My rant doesn’t look as cool if the italics don’t work. 🙁

    Monday, August 16, 2010 at 4:38 am | Permalink
  33. Soyrev wrote:

    Rick Rubin is a fucking idiot, but he made the beat for “99 Problems,” so it’s impossible to hate him entirely.

    Also, for italics, use HTML tags: < and > instead of [ and ].

    Monday, August 16, 2010 at 6:10 am | Permalink
  34. clonus wrote:

    Hey, he did those great Johnny Cash albums too. (Which had intentionally stripped down production!) I wonder if he gave Mr. Cash songwriting assignments…. 😉

    Monday, August 16, 2010 at 11:49 am | Permalink
  35. Soyrev wrote:

    Well, he did tell Johnny which songs to cover.

    Monday, August 16, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Permalink
  36. Ludicrosity wrote:

    I am pretty sure Johnny picked some on his own too — One by U2 comes to mind on one of his albums. I’d find it hard to believe he wouldn’t have picked that one on his own, especially given his collaboration on U2 song The Wanderer (where he sings lead vocals.)

    Monday, August 16, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Permalink
  37. OOS wrote:

    I’ll give Rubin 2 credits: Blood Sugar Sex Magik is one of the best produced rock albums ever in my opinion. Just perfect. And, HYED can be partly attributed to him as well, because he gave Cuomo the writing assignment that led to the songs creation. He did proceed to ruin it in production, though.

    Monday, August 16, 2010 at 8:37 pm | Permalink
  38. Chris wrote:

    And you can’t forget Licensed to Ill and Reign in Blood!

    Saturday, January 21, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink

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