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Here Are Your Pinkerton Stories

On May 11, 2016

A couple weeks ago, we asked you to send in your stories about our album of the month, Pinkerton. You guys delivered. We got in a bunch of submissions, and whittled them down to the handful you can read below:

Jon Kaplan:

I first heard Pinkerton when I was just 12 years old. Up to that point I had listened to and enjoyed many albums - nodding along to melodies, sounds and catchy hooks that I found along the way. For as much as I was getting into music, I’d never really fallen in love with music yet let alone an album. Pinkerton came out shortly after my mom passed away unexpectedly and I was drawn to the album almost immediately. It was a tough and confusing time, trying to process something on that level with a little 12 y/o brain was hard and I needed help. The reality of what I was dealing with was something I just couldn't face and Pinkerton happened to come out just at the right time. Getting lost in the tender and moody lyrics and notes of Pinkerton helped give me a escape and a means to cope (as best as I could). That album is special in many ways, but really it was a slice of Rivers Cuomo. He was opening up to fans after the blue album and sharing his world. I've since coped with things and still throw on Pinkerton from time to time and visit the songs, almost looking down at my 12 year old self listening to Pinkerton and flipping through the Weezer fan club packages. It's still one of the most intimate albums I've heard. For years I was a frustrated Weezer fan, hoping for new Weezer music with even half the magic of Pinkerton and was continuously let down. Looking back on it, I'm fine with it all and sometimes it's just better to put out this one album that is so unique and so very special to people, even if you're never able to replicate that magic.

Justin Boddie:

Pinkerton was released during the fall of my freshman year of high school and it came at a fork in the road in my musical listening journey. I remember heading to my local Blockbuster Music and purchasing both Nirvana’s From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah and Pinkerton.  The former representing my middle school musical tastes which were heavily influenced by my friends and my subscription to Guitar World magazine. I loved grunge and I loved Nirvana, but I can’t really say that as a suburban, reasonably well-behaved 13-year-old, that I necessarily “connected” with the majority of it, the angst was too “macro” and weighty for me.                                                                                            

However, Pinkerton spoke to me, both musically and lyrically, in a way that would essentially influence the music I would listen to for the next 20 years. I already loved Weezer’s music (I remember convincing my mom to buy me the Blue Album after I showed her the "Buddy Holly" video that came on our Windows ‘95 installation CD), but Pinkerton was the first time I can remember really connecting with lyrics. I can’t say I related to the specific problems Rivers referred to (although my friend had a string of relationships with eventual lesbians), but I certainly related to the uncertainty he had in himself and in his relationships expressed in songs like “Why Bother?” and “Getchoo.” And I feel like this paved the way for my eventual consumption of too much “emo” music in my college years, and continues today in my attendance of too many “emo” band reunion shows. And I have no problem with that.

Luke Radmore:

Pinkerton came to me in a part of my life where I was very confused of who I was and who I wanted to be. I was in Year 10, a vital year for me both academically and as a person. The first day I heard of Pinkerton was when my friend leant me a very worn CD copy of the album. I was told nothing about it, except that it was an album full of pop rock songs but also an album that underneath was incredibly personal and bittersweet. I listened to it on the way to school the next day and it made me feel things no record had at this point in my life. The themes of lost love and sexual longing were themes that at my age at the time were something that deeply resonated with me. Pinkerton was the album I associated with my first crush and also the album that helped me get over lost loves. ‘Falling For You’ being the song I would mostly associate with my crush, a song that I interpreted as a nervous shy guy having a crush on a girl and trying to muster the courage to talk to her. Pinkerton is an album that defined my teenage years of love, social awkwardness and in all honesty has made me who I am today. An album in retrospect that still affects me today, an album that I do and will always recommended to someone if they are need of something happy or in the need of something a little more sad. Pinkerton will always be my favourite album, from being a 15 shy kid to now being a 20 year old undergraduate it will always be special to me as it has helped me so much.   

Kevin Jersey: I graduated high school in 1995, which means that Weezer's first record ("the Blue Album") came out at the very end of my junior year.  I was a big fan, and that record was the soundtrack of my last year in high school.  I had kind of tired of grunge and "Alternative" by that point, and I saw Weezer as almost a remedy for that kind of music.  They were poking fun at a genre that had become tired.  The music was still kind of heavy, but in a poppy way, with major chords instead of minor ones.  The lyrics were smart and sarcastic at the same time.  Yet, it was still deep, in a way, even when wearing a smirk.  "In the Garage" or "Say it Ain't So" were downers, but somehow relatable.  And, when I say I loved that record, it is still far short of the actual affection I had (and still have) for it--except for "Buddy Holly," which I have always hated for some reason, but have managed to convince myself is not actually on this otherwise amazing record. But, as great as that record was, Pinkerton was better.  Pinkerton was not silly.  It didn't smirk.  It didn't laugh about its brilliance.  It was raw, and honest, and sad, and deep, and somehow still catchy.  A ridiculous song like "El Scorcho" breaks my heart every time I hear it, in a good way.  And, "Pink Triangle" made me want to fall in love with a lesbian just so I could relate to what Rivers Cuomo was talking about.  I yearned for his heartbreak.  This is an album that I bought the day it was released, and have listened to many (many) hundreds of times.  I know every word, every guitar lick, every drumbeat, every moment of this record...and, I could still not possibly be more excited to have it on vinyl.  The record itself looks great, and the artwork does, too.  It looks so good, I would buy two copies. I would buy Pinkerton in every format available.  I love it so much that I would buy new machines just to play it on if new formats were created.  This is a record that sounds like it was recorded in a bedroom by a couple guys trying to shake their friend out of a broken heart, and it is better than almost anything I have ever heard.  It is so good that it enables me to forget just how bad Weezer got after their self-imposed hiatus after this record was released.  It is so good that they could record a hundred more records just as bad as the last half-dozen they have put out, and they would still be one of my favorite bands of all time.  I have thousands of records, on vinyl and CD, and if I was forced to choose twenty to keep while the rest were set on fire, this would be one of the first ones I would grab.  The musicianship is not anything special, the singing is not great, nor is the production.  But, somehow, this record affects me more than almost any other record I can think of.

Blake Edwards: 

Pinkerton is special to me because when it came out I was a senior in high school in North Carolina and I had dated a girl that entire year. The first girl I ever said "I love you" to. Big time! Inevitably when we graduated, we both shipped off to different colleges several thousand miles from one another, so every mix tape I mailed out to her included "Across The Sea." She was not Japanese, nor across a sea, but she was still "so far away from me" and I missed seeing what clothes she wore to school and how she decorated her room. A few times I even recorded my own acoustic versions of "Across the Sea" directly onto tapes with my little 1/8" input mic so that I had her letters and she had my song. It was all very emo. It didn't work out, but listening to Pinkerton now is super nostalgic for me in the best way. This was all before email and dropbox so everything was still so wonderfully analog. Drawing liner notes directly onto cassette tape inserts and sending hand-written letters in the mail. I still have shoeboxes of mix tapes from back then. It reminds me of a really sweet period of time in my growing up where I experienced things like love and loss for the very first time and had maintained enough of my innocence that I wasn't afraid of being a bit of a sad bastard romantic. It's good to connect to that part of myself again.

Noah Kim:

When I first listened to Pinkerton, it was like I was taking a trip to memory lane. I had memories with similar circumstances to relate with almost every song. I had never quite had a stronger connection to being crushed like "Pink Triangle," like many people. My closest friend, Heather, from high school was a lesbian, and I unfortunately had developed feelings for her too. It was the hardest three years of my life to get over with. But all in all, it felt really nice to have an album to really empathize with. But there was one song I never wanted to associate with, and that was Butterfly. It’s a song that I completely misread the first time hearing it, but reading up on it made me realize it was about the theme of unreciprocated feelings and taking advantage of someone. It was more depressing than the rest and somewhat scary to listen to. I never wanted experience something like what I had heard. But I somehow managed to make a point of my life where “Butterfly” happened. In my way of finding catharsis to get over Heather, I hooked up with a good friend(also ex-boyfriend), Myles. We were both lonely and crushed by unrequited feelings, so we gave each other the affection that we just wanted. After a while though, our feelings got mixed and I ended it. He really liked me, but I couldn’t do him the same. I didn’t realize that whole experience was unfair to him before it was too late. So when I listened to Butterfly again, I just cried about how it became relatable and how I ruined a good friendship.

James McGill:

I was housesitting in South Jersey, all alone in a big house for a week. I had just had my girlfriend break up with me by sending a picture of her and her ex in bed together. With a broken phone, I traveled to the Best Buy in Deptford. After finding out my phone wasn't under warranty, I shopped around and found a lonely copy of Pinkerton on the shelf. I got it and popped it in, and immediately it was the soundtrack to my life at the time. Emotional and lonely, I took the long way home on the freeways of Philadelphia with the sunsetting, windows down, and a Camel Blue in my fingers. Thus began a long relationship to my favorite album.

Chris Sturwold: 

I am a drummer from Canada that does periodic session work for other bands. When Pinkerton came out, my band was in Vancouver recording. Before one of the sessions, we picked up the CD and put it on in our van. “Tired Of Sex” started, and five jaws dropped; almost instantly. The drum sound blew me away! They were HUGE! Patrick Wilson’s performance immediately made me re-think what the heck I was doing behind the kit for the album we were working on, and in turn, changed the way that project of ours ended up sounding. Since then, I have stolen artistically borrowed many of Pat’s fills from Pinkerton just because of how perfectly imperfect they are. So thank you Pat for your influence, and apologies for being a dirty thief.  

Riley Williams:

I discovered Pinkerton (and The Blue Album) at approximately the same time in my life when I started university at 18 years old. To save on costs, I decided to live at home that year and travel an hour drive each way to school everyday. As a result, my on-campus experience at university was underwhelming and drastically different from my other friends. I didn’t get to easily meet people or participate in regular events like the rest of my peers. With only a few regular friends I could see often at that point in my life, I was lonely and bored. Halfway through my academic year, I fell for Pinkerton, hard. Knowing of the parties and sexual endeavours my out-of-province friends were participating in while living on campus made me feel a sense of loss and inadequacy. The dark, introspective, and at times melodramatic nature of the album cliqued with my current situation. It helped me cope. I saw myself reflected in the person who was circa ’95-’97 Rivers Cuomo. I felt as though if I led the same life path as Rivers I would have felt the exact same way he did, and that brought me closer to the album. A few years later and Pinkerton has not faded in quality one bit. I believe it is a juvenile album in spirit, and always will be. It takes me back to the time when I listened to it once or twice a day, when I played “Across The Sea” over and over on my drums, and I when I had my first mushroom trip listening to “El Scorcho” in disbelief of how catchy it was. Most of all though, Pinkerton is raw and honest, and that’s why it has sucked in so many devote listeners.


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