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Tuesday, April 13, 2004
I promise the Weezer stuff is going to just be backgrounded, but I really, really have to point this one out. From a story Rivers circa Maladroit, after relating the familiar stuff about his spreadsheet of songs:

This isn't the only chart he's kept: A few years ago, he started keeping a notebook of every song Kurt Cobain wrote. In it, he dissected the songs in as mathematical a manner as he could. "He figured if he could home in on Kurt's formula, he'd figure out his own formula," says Todd Sullivan, Weezer's A&R man. "That way, he would be a never-ending supply of songs."

"It wasn't only Nirvana," Cuomo says, "but also Oasis and Green Day." He still keeps a three-ring binder he calls "The Encyclopedia of Pop," full of his analysis of different artists. "I'm probably just a natural-born scientist. I like taking notes and analyzing things."

See, that's what I'm talking about. You can break it down and find all the little bits and reuse 'em.

The problem here is one that's abundently clear from the last two Weezer albums: you need to use these analyses as arrangement guides, not composition guides. The initial inspiration still needs to come from the random combination of ear, training, and luck we call "inspiration." This is where pure talent comes in, songwriting-wise, although of course you can train this to a large degree. And then you use the musicology stuff to lay stuff out, to do transitions, to find a verse or a chorus that'll match. But you don't use it for the totality very often, or you get the sort of, well, formulaic stuff that I think has populated the Green Album and Maladroit. I like it, but I just don't have that much impulse to listen to it, and I think the method related here is tied to that.

That said, I really want to see that fucking notebook.