Songs from the Black Hole
|Songs from the Black Hole|
Logo design (as pictured in The Pinkerton Diaries)
|Demo by Weezer|
|Recorded||Demoed Christmas 1994 at (Beverly's home, February 1995 in Hamburg Germany, various studio recordings in '95 and '96.|
|Genre||Alternative rock, progressive rock|
|Length||Tracklist 2 was aprx. 25 minutes|
|Individual song reviews|
Songs from the Black Hole
Fan made cover. It has become somewhat the "official" cover for fans.
Songs from the Black Hole (hereafter abbreviated as SFTBH) is an unreleased, unfinished Weezer album concept. A space-themed rock opera/musical about singer Rivers Cuomo's apprehension about rock-and-roll stardom, SFTBH was originally envisioned as the follow-up album to Weezer's eponymous debut album but, over the course of songwriting and demoing, the concept was discarded, and the project instead evolved into the album Pinkerton. Several of the songs considered for inclusion on SFTBH ultimately appeared on Pinkerton or were released as B-sides.
In 2007, Rolling Stone called Songs from the Black Hole one of music's lost "mythical masterpieces." In 2014, Vice called SFTBH "better than almost everything [Weezer has] released in the last 15 years." Stereogum called SFTBH "perhaps the greatest 'what if?' in modern music."
|In '93 I had spent a lot of time listening to Jesus Christ Superstar. In '94, on the road with Weezer, I listened to Les Miserables, Verdi's Aida and Puccini's Tosca and Madama Butterfly. I loved how these works married music and drama, how the different characters would sing to each other instead of talk and how the story unfolded through song. I realized that musical-drama could be the larger scale composition I wanted to write for Weezer's second record: a new-wave influenced rock musical in which I could explore my feelings about relationships, stardom, and my life in Weezer. I would call the musical, Songs from the Black Hole. I purchased an Electro-Harmonix keyboard and a Korg keyboard from Center Music in Newington, Connecticut on January 3, 1995, to add a sci-fi tone to Weezer's guitar crunch. I got excited, now knowing what I wanted to do. I started planning and writing out sketches, music, and songs.|
The earliest known written draft of Songs from the Black Hole, as presented in the book The Pinkerton Diaries, was dated November 28, 1994. The characters of the story were to be Jonas (voiced by Rivers Cuomo), Laurel (voiced by Rachel Haden of That Dog), Maria (planned to be voiced by Joan Wasser of the Dambuilders), Wuan & Dondó (Brian Bell and Matt Sharp, respectively), and a robot called M1 (voiced by Karl Koch via the use of a vocoder). At the time, Wasser was unaware of Rivers' intention of having her play a role on the album.
The initial draft of the story differed from later drafts, seemingly taking place on Earth in a futuristic setting. Subsequent drafts re-imagined the characters explicitly as space travelers. In the words of Rivers, taken from an interview in the November 15, 2007 issue of Rolling Stone: "There's this crew - three guys and two girls and a mechanoid - that are on this mission in space to rescue somebody, or something. The whole thing was really an analogy for taking off, going out on the road and up the charts with a rock band, which is what was happening to me at the time I was writing this and feeling like I was lost in space."
Over the course of writing the album, Rivers, who'd enrolled at Harvard in the fall of 1995, was inspired to change his focus from the space rock opera theme of SFTBH to the Madame Butterfly-influenced theme that permeates Pinkerton. Pinkerton was released on September 24, 1996 and included the songs "Tired of Sex", "Getchoo", "No Other One", and "Why Bother?". These four songs had been written prior to the conception of SFTBH but had been reworked into the story of SFTBH. Further leftovers "Devotion", "Waiting on You", and "I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams" (the latter of which was conceived as a SFTBH song) surfaced as b-sides to the Pinkerton singles "El Scorcho" and "The Good Life". "I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams" notably features Rachel Haden singing lead vocals, in the role that was originally intended for SFTBH.
Asked why he "ditched" the album concept in a 2002 fan correspondence, Cuomo simply replied "rotr" (referring to the 1995 album Return of the Rentals by former Weezer bassist Matt Sharp), adding "plus it was kind of a lame idea". Cuomo expanded on this in 2010, saying "our bass player, Matt, put out his first solo record and I felt like it had a lot of the same musical and lyrical themes that I was planning to explore on the second record. So that would be one contributing factor, my change of heart. Also, I had this really painful surgical procedure on my leg, which lasted 13 months in all and it took me to a place, emotionally, where the whole idea of this whole rock opera started to feel too whimsical for where I was emotionally, going through the pain of the procedure. And so I scrapped the whole idea and went to a more serious and dark place." In 2002, several SFTBH demos were leaked on the internet. These included "Blast Off!", "Oh No, This Is Not For Me", "Come to My Pod", "Tired of Sex" and "Longtime Sunshine". Another demo, "You Won't Get With Me Tonight", was officially released on the 2003 compilation Buddyhead Presents: Gimme Skelter. A very short clip of the band rehearsing "Superfriend" in Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California, in January 1996, was released on the Weezer DVD Video Capture Device in 2004.
As the demos from the SFTBH began being desired by fans, Cuomo stated on his blog that he was unable to release any of his demos (including Black Hole songs) because of his contractual obligations to Geffen Records: "...Someday that may change but it won’t be anytime soon...Until I can figure out a way to compensate Geffen records (and in the case of covers songs, the songwriters) I can’t give away my recordings." Also on his blog, Rivers mentioned playing his demos to Jordan Schur, the president of Geffen Records: "...when we were starting to work on Make Believe in 2003, I sat down with Jordan and played him hours of my old demos, going all the way back to the beginnings of Weezer. He didn’t think any of them were album-worthy. Neither did I. The one song he thought was good was "Blast Off" but it 'needs a new chorus.' I agreed." In a 2006 interview, commenting on speculation that Make Believe would be Weezer's last album, drummer Pat Wilson stated that he would be interested in releasing a compilation of "lost" Weezer tracks. This fueled rumours that the band would release previously unheard Black Hole songs or a completely re-worked version of the Songs from the Black Hole concept album in the near future. A petition for the band to release the SFTBH demos was launched by Weezer fans on November 27, 2005, with the goal of reaching one thousand signatures. The petition reached its goal on March 1st, 2006. On October 3, 2005 during a Weezer show at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, the band invited a fan up onstage to play the rhythm guitar for "Undone - The Sweater Song". The fan took advantage of this moment to attempt to get the band to play "Blast Off!" by beginning to play the intro to the song and sang the first four lines of the song. "Blast Off!" was played live for the first time with the full band on August 19, 2011 at a concert at WaMu Theater in Seattle, WA. It was the encore song after a "Double Memories Night", during which the band performed both The Blue album and Pinkerton in their entirety.
Sheet music and lyrics for several unreleased Songs from the Black Hole tracks were made available by Rivers on his MySpace page on April 30, 2006. Lyrics were posted for "Blast Off!", "Who You Callin' Bitch?", "Oh Jonas", "Please Remember", "Oh No, This Is Not For Me", "She's Had a Girl", and "Now I Finally See", while sheet music was posted for "She's Had a Girl", "Who You Callin' Bitch?" and "Oh Jonas".
In a November 2006 interview with a Bloomfield Hills local radio station Pat Wilson told two students that he remembers being caught in Germany and Rivers using a recording studio to record what he wanted to be a rock album. Pat stated that he never knew more about SFTBH other than that Rivers wanted to make a concept album.
On October 15, 2007 Rivers posted a blog on his official blog stating that he had permission from Geffen to release a collection of demos spanning 1992-2007. On November 22, Rivers updated his blog, stating "I want to share with everyone the excitement I felt when I went back and heard the original master tapes of these demos. In most cases, they sounded much better than the mp3s I've been listening to for years--clearer, warmer, deeper. I highly recommend that listeners buy the CD rather than the digital version so that they can enjoy the highest quality listening experience." On December 18, Rivers Cuomo released the collection of his home demos entitled Alone: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo. The collection also included five demos for songs intended for or included on Songs From the Black Hole: "Longtime Sunshine", "Blast Off!", "Who You Callin' Bitch?", "Dude, We're Finally Landing", and "Superfriend." This was the first time fans got to hear "Who You Callin' Bitch?", "Dude, We're Finally Landing", and a high-quality version of "Superfriend." In the Alone booklet, Rivers explained some of the plot points of the musical and, after having reviewed his journal notes of SFTBH, revealed that the name of the "good girl" was Laurel (previously mistakenly believed by fans to be "Lisa".
Three more tracks were released on November 25, 2008 on Alone II, including "Oh Jonas", "Please Remember", and "Come To My Pod". "You Won't Get with Me Tonight" was re-released on the Deluxe Edition of Pinkerton in 2010. On December 12, 2011 several demos were released on Alone III: The Pinkerton Years, including "Oh No, This Is Not for Me", "Tired of Sex", "She's Had a Girl", "What Is This I Find?", "Now I Finally See", and a reprise of "Longtime Sunshine" and "Superfriend". Finally with the release of Alone IV: The Blue-Pinkerton Years on November 22, 2020, "Why Bother", "Devotion", "I Just Threw Out the Love Of My Dreams", "You Were a Man", three alternate reprises of "Longtime Sunshine" and an alternate demo of "Superfriend" were released.
Three copies of a demo version of SFTBH are known to exist in CD-R form. Two of them are in the care of Karl Koch, while the third copy is in Rivers' personal archive. These CDs contain the tracks from the second track list (see below).
|"Superfriend " (Teenage Victory Songs)||Positive (The Grand Playlist)||October 7, 2010||Teenage Victory Songs|
|"What Is This I Find?" (Teenage Victory Songs)||Positive (The Grand Playlist)||November 4, 2015||Teenage Victory Songs|
|"You Won't Get With Me Tonight" (Pitchfork)||(3.0/5)||April 22, 2004||Christopher Weber (Pitchfork)|
Drafted track lists
Songs from the Black Hole synopsis ca. 1995
Demoed track list #1
The first recorded track list (referred to by Karl Koch as "Tracklist 1" in the Weezer Recording History) was compiled by Cuomo from cassette recordings made from late 1993 through late 1994. Some of the songs from this set were later demoed and recorded to ADAT tape by Cuomo and Pat Wilson in February of 1995 at a studio in Hamburg, Germany.
|2.||"You Won't Get with Me Tonight"||3:28|
|3.||"Maria's Theme" ("Oh Jonas")||0:26|
|4.||"Come to My Pod"||1:31|
|5.||"This Is Not For Me"||0:44|
|6.||"I'm Tired of Having Sex"||2:42|
|8.||"She's Had a Girl"||0:55|
|10.||"Now I Finally See"||0:40|
|12.||"I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams"||2:38|
|13.||"There Is No Other One"||2:46|
|15.||"What Is This I Find?"||1:20|
|17.||"Longtime Sunshine" (reprise)||0:30|
- The song "Why Bother?" was also recorded, though its place in this tracklist is unknown.
Demoed track list #2
The second version of the track list (referred to by Karl Koch as "Tracklist 2" in the Weezer Recording History) was assembled by Cuomo and including some newly-recorded demos, after beginning his semester at Harvard in the fall of 1995, as a "last ditch effort" to salvage the Songs from the Black Hole concept. Ultimately, by the following spring, the concept had been shelved in favor of the concept that would eventually become Pinkerton. The song "Lisa" was recorded as part of this track list, but was not intended for SFTBH.
|2.||"Who You Callin' Bitch?"||0:45|
|5.||"Come to My Pod"||1:31|
|6.||"Oh No, This Is Not For Me"||0:44|
|7.||"Tired of Sex"||2:42|
|8.||"She's Had a Girl"||0:55|
|9.||"Dude, We're Finally Landing"||1:05|
|10.||"Now I Finally See"||0:40|
|11.||"I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams"||2:38|
|14.||"Longtime Sunshine" (reprise)|
|15.||"You Won't Get with Me Tonight"||3:28|
|16.||"What Is This I Find?"||1:20|
* Not intended for SFTBH.
|This section requires expansion.|
- "Lost Music: Green Day’s Stolen Album, Kurt’s Demos and Other Mythical Masterpieces" Rolling Stone. 9 February 2007. https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/lost-music-green-days-stolen-album-kurts-demos-and-other-mythical-masterpieces-104258/
- Bassil, Ryan. "Weezer’s “Lost” Science-Fiction Rock Opera Is Better Than Almost Everything They’ve Released in the Last 15 Years" Vice. 4 December 2014. https://www.vice.com/en/article/6ejjzr/weezers-songs-from-the-black-hole-is-better-than-almost-everything-theyve-released-in-the-last-fifteen-years
- Greene, Andy. "Rivers Cuomo Looks Back at ‘Pinkerton’" Rolling Stone. 2 November 2010. https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/rivers-cuomo-looks-back-at-pinkerton-107425/
- CLme. "Blast Off / Undone" YouTube. 16 October 2007. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNG3RPbxz0M