To put it plainly, I’ve been what you would call a bit of a Weezer fanatic for the lions share of their 2 decade plus career. I even went so far as to have their logo permanently inked to my body in homage, a move that has provoked countless rants defending  their merits to those who can’t understand why I have the “Beverly Hills” band branded to me. It’s understandable, being a fan hasn’t been easy. After a lengthy hiatus following 1996s’ “Pinkerton” (often cited as one of the most influential albums of all time despite being a critical disaster upon its’ initial release), the new millennium saw-among other things-a pop album with collaborations from Li’l Wayne & countless Hot 100 songwriters (2009’s “Raditude”), and their own line of Snuggies in what seemed like an eternal quest for relevance with “the young folks”. Not to mention that, despite the occasional gem sprinkled in here and there, the latter day albums were just bereft of any soul and often felt processed and undercooked. By the time they sought atonement with the spectacular “Everything Will Be Alright In The End”, whatever straggling fans were left were bewildered and fed up. They begged the age old question of “whether it’s better to burn out than to fade away?”

All of that aside, I still fly their flag proudly. My unwavering fandom is more of a debt of gratitude for…at the risk of sounding corny…releasing an album that changed my life & is single handedly responsible for my being a musician today; That album is their self titled debut “Weezer” (referred to as “The Blue Album”), released this month back in 1994.

’94 was a bit of a transitional period for  peoples musical tastes. It seemed we had grown tired of the doleful discordance that the North West Invasion brought only a few short years earlier. People were ready to shuffle joyfully again and radio and MTV were more than fine with playing it relatively light & sweet. To get a good sense of the musical landscape back in 1994, just take a quick glance at the Billboard Top 100 for that year ( Not that I don’t have a soft spot for “Amazing” by Aerosmith or “Stay (I Missed You)” by Lisa Loeb but I was a  gawky bookish introvert with a laundry list of allergies; The body of newer content that “spoke to me” and was accessible in the pre-internet era was relatively non-existent. Not that I should’ve been concerned with that sort of thing as a child that age; What can I say, I was a complex specimen….

Fortunately for me, maybe not so much my Mothers’ pride, both of my older brothers were forced to attend summer school at the same time that year. This of course meant I had free reign over their room in their absence and all of its’ glorious bleak 90’s ephemera. One day, while sifting through back issues of Circus that I didn’t quite understand, I spotted a cassette that stuck out like a bright-blue thumb: On it were 4 unassuming, nebbish looking men standing in a row looking less like they were posing for an album cover than for a passport photo. Barber college haircuts; Dress shirts; Ungainly stances. They…well…looked like me. At 10 this was more than enough to pique my interest, so I  threw it on-Track 4 of Side B: “Holiday”.

It was all over for me at that point; Eye roll if you will, but that  may have been the most transformational 3 and a half minutes of my entire life. This wasn’t my brothers’ dreary crestfallen music  or one of my sisters’  Jock Jams, this was something I couldn’t describe but instantly felt attracted to. I must’ve rewound just that one song a  half dozen times before I dove into the remaining 9. This tape was coming back to my room with me, I’d deal with the consequences of my brothers’ wrath later.

That cassette became the sole soundtrack to my life, never leaving my Walkman. These were MY anthems-Vulnerable songs about being  isolated (“In The Garage”); About fears of a broken home (“Say It Aint So”); About being too petrified to approach the girl you like  (“Only In Dreams”). I always assumed it was verboten to talk about these things out loud let alone convey them in music. All of my suppressed anxiety and confusion, upset and frustration from years of ridicule seemed to finally have some form of an outlet instead of feeling solitary. It’s like a switch went off in me. It suddenly felt cool to be uncool. Even at such a young age I felt like I could eventually have a voice and an outlet to not only express myself but reassure others like me that they had a partner in their pain.

It wasn’t long before I asked for my first guitar so that, at least in my mind, I could pickup where that album left off. Sure, I wasn’t anywhere near accomplishing that with my rudimentary playing & relatively small cache of life experience to draw inspiration from, but I still plucked away every single day feeling like I was the penning the NEXT Blue Album. What mattered is I felt confident enough to be heard for once, like I actually had a story to tell.

Sure the band may be a living spectacle of a mid-life crises at this point, vacillating between their rock roots and borderline Kidz Bop, but none of us ever age as gracefully as we’d like. It’s the results of our greatest actions that truly stand the test of time long after we’re gone, and that album is a perfect example of this.

-Dustin James




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