My Brain Is Working Overtime

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"My Brain Is Working Overtime"
My Brain Is Working Overtime cover
Demo by Rivers Cuomo
Album Alone II: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo
Released November 25, 2008
Length 3:28
Label Geffen
Writer(s) Rivers Cuomo
RC# 396
COR# 92
Status Released
Rivers Cuomo song chronology
"Sixth Xmas"
(RC# 395)
"My Brain Is Workin' Overtime"
(RC# 396)
"Phlegm Man"
(RC# 397)
Alone II: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo track listing
"Harvard Blues
(5)
"My Brain Is Working Overtime"
(6)
"I Don't Want to Let You Go"
(7)

"My Brain Is Working Overtime," (originally titled "My Brain", later reworked into "Do You Really Want Me Down?"), is a song that was demoed in 1999 by Rivers Cuomo and performed live by Weezer in the Summer of 2000. It was released officially on Alone II: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo in 2008. A reworking of the track titled "Losing My Mind" was considered for Make Believe in 2004 but was unreleased until it was included on the compilation album Death to False Metal in 2010.

Overview

The lyrics for "My Brain" were originally written by Rivers Cuomo in 1999, and finished the following January. The song is first known to have been demoed by Weezer on May 3, 2000 at Cole Rehearsal Studios, and was performed live a handful of times by the band throughout the following summer. The song was subsequently abandoned until early winter of 2004, when Cuomo demoed it again as a potential song for the band's planned fifth album (that would eventually result in Make Believe). The song, in various forms, remained on Cuomo's "A-list" through the following summer during the album's pre-production, being re-titled "Do You Really Want Me Down?" in April. This iteration of the song, which wouldn't be heard by fans until it was leaked online in November of 2020, featured a wholly new chorus ("Do you really want me down? / Do you really want me?") which would later become the bridge heard in the final version of "My Brain Is Working Overtime" on Alone II. The song was subsequently reworked again with a new chorus by June of 2004, under the new title "Losing My Mind". "Losing My Mind" was completed in October, sans a final mix, but went unused on the final album. By this point the song featured wholly different verse lyrics, making it an entirely distinct song from "My Brain". "Losing My Mind" would not see release until it appeared on the compilation Death to False Metal in 2010. A version of "Losing My Mind" featuring the verses from "My Brain" was among the demos leaked online in 2020.

A demo for "My Brain Is Working Overtime" was released on Alone II: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo in November of 2008. There remained confusion for some time as to when this demo was recorded, however. Months prior to the CD's release, the song title appeared on a spreadsheet posted to riverscuomo.com titled The 4 and 5 Star Demos of Rivers Cuomo. This spreadsheet dated the demo as coming from 2004, and the Recording History mentioned that the demo recorded from that year featured a "totally new bridge" (Indeed, the version on Alone II featured a bridge not present in live performances from 2000). The new bridge also featured the lyric "Do you really want me down?", and "My Brain Is Working Overtime" was briefly re-titled "Do You Really Want Me Down?" in 2004. However, the chronological order of the songs in the liner notes for Alone II implied that the demo originated in 2000, which Karl Koch stated that he believed to be the case [1]. Cuomo himself clarified when asked about it via Riverchat on November 10, 2020, stating that the demo was originally from 2000, but featured new tracks from 2004.

The SS2K version of the song is notable for its use of the word "fuck," which hadn't been used in a Weezer song previously and wouldn't appear again until spoken by Lil' Wayne on "Can't Stop Partying" in 2009 (Cuomo would not use the word in a song until "I Love the USA" in 2016).

"My Brain is Working Overtime" was streamed by several music websites and Cuomo's official music Myspace on November 11, 2008. It is the first single from Alone II.

In 2009, the isolated vocal, instrumental, and background tracks were shared online to allow fans to remix them for a contest on Indaba Music.

Liner notes

Eleven more months passed making song-experiments, growing ever more disappointed and anxious, until finally one day in November I felt so stressed that I absolutely had to express my mind-state in a song, impersonality be damned. Without even picking up an instrument, I wrote the opening stanza to "My Brain is Working Overtime" (Track 6):


My brain is workin' overtime,
I need something to ease my mind
And as my thoughts go manic
I reel and start to panic
Cuz there's no place to hide behind

I logged this stanza as an experiment #92 in the Catalog O' Riffs. It seemed unusually compelling to me but I was still so rattled by anxiety that I could not maintain the faith to finish it. Over the next few months I continued on with other song-experiments and mostly avoided any personal content. But in January 2000, I happened to review #92 and determined that it was indeed strong, and precisely because of its personal nature and psychological truth for me. I finished the lyrics:
It was February, 2000, with the catalog growing to 167 entries, before I finally had the confidence to play even a handful of the songs for anyone. Weezer's manager came over to my house to hear what I had. When he heard #92, he said, "That's a hit!" and that exclamation was one of the reasons I felt confident enough to get back on the road and in the studio with Weezer. I felt like I had finally written something worthwhile after two-and-a-half years of near-fruitless labor in a science lab. And for that reason, I felt gratitude for this song.

Music video

During two shows on the Troublemaker Tour, the song was performed solo by Cuomo, in the audience in-between sets of the opening bands. It was revealed later that Cuomo was being filmed for the song's music video. The video features multiple audience recordings of this performance.

Video Capture Device

The fans came to the rescue again, to document the band's first official performance in nearly 3 years, and the first unveiling of the Summer Songs of 2000 material, like this one, "My Brain (Is Working Overtime)." Other songs in this series went on to be album classics like "Hash Pipe" and "Dope Nose."
-Karl Koch on a live performance of "My Brain," from the liner notes for Video Capture Device

Audio

Isolated tracks

Personnel

Alone II version:

  • Rivers Cuomo – lead guitar, lead vocals, drums, rhythm guitar, bass guitar, piano

SS2K version:

Live performances

Lyrics

Alone II version:

My brain is working overtime
I need something to ease my mind
And as my thoughts go manic
I reel and start to panic
There’s no place to hide behind

I freak and then hallucinate
I go at lights when I should wait
My parents think I’m lazy
But damn, I’m going crazy
I can’t help my mental state

Pick it up y'all, pick it up

Ooh lala (he’s trippin’)
La dee dah (mental slippin’)
Take these brains out of my way

I work into a frenzied clip
I bite the corners of my lip
I’m losin’ my appetite
My pants don’t even fit right
Take away the month-old dip
My hair could start a bowl cut fad
The state of my attire is sad
And if I was run over
By a brand new Range Rover
Hey, I'd actually be glad

Pick it up y'all, pick it up

Ooh lala (he’s trippin’)
La dee dah (mental slippin’)
Take these brains out of my way

Do you really want me down?
Do you really want me?
Do you really want me down?
'Cause I'm waiting to see

My brain is working overtime
I need something to ease my mind
And as my thoughts go manic
I reel and start to panic
There’s no place to hide behind

Pick it up y'all, pick it up

Ooh lala (he’s trippin’)
La dee dah (mental slippin’)
Take these brains out of my way

SS2K version

My brain is working overtime
I need something to ease my mind
‘Cause as my thoughts go manic
I reel and start to panic
And there’s no place to hide behind

I freak and then hallucinate
I go at lights when I should wait
My parents think I’m lazy
But damn, I’m going crazy
I can’t help my mental state

Oh-la-la (he’s trippin’)
Shainty-da (mental slippin’)
Take these brains out of my way

I work into a frenzied clip
I bite the corners of my lip
I’m losin’ my appetite
My pants don’t even fit right
Take away the month-old dip
And give me something for my hair (aaaah)
A fresher pair of underwear
‘Cause if I was run over
By a brand new Range Rover
Ah, just skip it, I don’t care

Oh-la-la (he’s trippin’)
Shainty-da (mental slippin’)
Take these brains out of my way

I tell the world to fuck itself
‘Cause who decides what’s sick or health?
And all the people I see
That’s bankin’ lots of Benjie
Make me want to puke myself
Start a brand new fashion trend (aaah)
For those off of the deeper end
Sedatives and No-Doz
And edible pantyhose
On your plate, so dig right in

Oh-la-la (he’s trippin’)
Shainty-da (mental slippin’)
Take these brains out of my way

See also