I Was Scared

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"I Was Scared"
I Was Scared cover
Demo by Rivers Cuomo
Album Alone II
Released November 25, 2008
Recorded 2003
Length N/A
Label Geffen
Writer(s) Rivers Cuomo
RC# N/A
COR# 524
Producer Rivers Cuomo
Status Released
Rivers Cuomo song chronology
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(RC# ?)
"I Was Scared"
(RC# ?)
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(RC# ?)
Alone II track listing
"The Purification of Water
(3)
"I Was Scared"
(4)
"Harvard Blues"
(5)

"I Was Scared" is a track from Alone II.

Overview

"I Was Scared" was rehearsed at various points in 2003, including as an office demo. Rivers Cuomo later rehearsed the song in preparation for the band's fifth album, but is not known to have been rehearsed again once the band entered the studio. In the Alone 2 booklet, Cuomo explains that the song was inspired by an event during his 1986-1987 High School year. He explained that the song is in response to an incident in which he allowed his brother, Leaves, to get beat up in exchange for peace from the school bullies. In May 2003, Rivers recollected this incident at a Vipassana meditation course and later wrote the song during a visit at his brother's house.

Liner notes

In May of 2003 I went to my first Vipassana meditation course in the hopes that the technique could melt away the thought patterns that infused my creative process, the self-doubt, the self-criticism, the fear of trying new things, the craving for a reliable formula. One of the first things that came up for me, during my second Vipassana meditation course, in June, sitting in the meditation hall for twelve hours a day for ten days in silence, with nothing but my mind and my memories, was a painful experience I had had fifteen years earlier. 1986-1987, my Junior Year of high school, was the toughest year of my life, in terms of getting hassled, picked on and bullied. That was the year that I had stumbled upon the perfect formula for "doing" my hair (wash, condition, apply several dollops of Dep gel, blow dry whilst scrubbing scalp with palm, then a heavy coat of Aqua Net "Extra Super Hold") and the jocks did not like it one bit. They also did not like the ripped jeans, spandex, chains, spiked wristbands, faux fox tails, and zebra bandanas that my friends and I wore to school every day. Especially, they did not like the music that we liked: Metallica, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Kiss. Scott H. (about twice my body mass) and the others taunted, pushed and shoved us and made us terrified for our physical safety when we had to walk through the halls in between classes.

David was one of Scott's group, and he, for some reason, picked my brother, Jimmy, a year younger than I, for his mark. As I remember it, one day David challenged Jimmy to a fight and offered us what appeared to be attractive terms: if Jimmy would meet David, alone, in the back of the school after classes let out, and fight him one on one, then David's whole group would leave us all alone thereafter. This was the one fight that David really wanted to have, apparently.

Jimmy, Matt, Justin, Adam, our other friends and I mulled it over. This fight, if my brother would face it, would mean liberation for our whole gang.

"It's up to you, Jimmy," I said

Jimmy accepted. He went out behind the building after school and I stayed inside, telling myself that Jimmy and David were supposed to go out there alone to fight together. I was supposed to stay inside. I knew damn well that David wasn't going out there alone.

"Pete, you should go outside," Adam said to me in the foyer of the school. "They're all out there. They've got him surrounded."
I told myself again, I'm not supposed to go out there. He's supposed to be out there alone.

They had him in a circle. David hit him to the ground and I stayed safe inside.

After the Vipassana course in 2003 during which I remembered these events, I happened to be going to my brother's house. When I got there, I sat at the desk in his home office and wrote "I Was Scared" (Track 4).
Then I went out to Jimmy's kitchen and told him how sorry I was for not defending him on that occasion in 1987, for letting my fear of physical pain and injury prevent me from helping the little brother that I loved so much. I continued to go on about it for an undue amount of time until finally he said, almost amused, "Let it go." I was so grateful that he said that.

Audio

Personnel

  • Rivers Cuomo – lead guitar, lead vocals, percussion, rhythm guitar, bass guitar

Lyrics

Listen to me
I've got to clear the air
There's something I've held way down deep inside all these years
You always were a friend
You always trusted me
But now I must admit that I was not trustworthy

I let you down
I sold you out
I turned away as you fell onto the ground

I was scared
And I was terrified
I was lost and so I shied away


And I don't know what I can do to make it up to you
I can't turn back the clock
I can't rewrite the book
But if I could, the end would be happy
You would be safe
And I would be proud to look at you when I look you in the face

I let you down
I sold you out
I turned away as you fell onto the ground

I was scared
I was terrified
I was lost and so I shied away

Though I love you
I was so afraid
I could not think of anything to say

Though I loved you (Though I loved you)
Though I trusted you
Though I needed you (Though I needed you)
I was so afraid
I was so afraid (I was so afraid)

And I promise that I'll never ever do
The thing that I did on that day when I acted like the fool
I might get my ass beat,
My throat slit, and my fingers hacked
But I'll never miss another chance to watch my brother's back (And I got yours)

I let you down
I sold you out
I turned away as you fell onto the ground

I was scared
I was terrified
I was lost and so I shied away

I was scared
I was terrified
I was lost and so I let you down

See also