Goodbye You Crazy Fuckers

May 31, 2012 by


Ween was one of those bands that could jump out and grab you, sneak up on you, or totally fly by you.   I first read about them in high school in a Rolling Stone, what I got out of the article was that they were a couple of weird dudes from the Midwest who’d created their own myth à la Jim Morrison, a strange tale of the demon Boognish, who visited the brothers Ween in a cornfield and imbuing them with over 2000 songs to record. The whole Lo-Fi movement was really getting going then, and while I was into a lot of it, I was never into weird for the sake of being weird, and that’s how Dean and Gene came off to me

Later, in College, after they’d reach Major Label status, I saw the video for Push th’ Little Daisies, and I loved it.  Goofy, trippy song, shot in black in white that looked like it could have been any of my friends, hanging out, watching TV, playing guitar and eating mushrooms.  The song was so awesome, the video was awesomer, and yet…I didn’t check them out any further.  They were just a joke band to me, a joke band that managed to pull off a great song.  I said this with the utter contempt and assuredness that only someone in their early 20s can have.  Especially someone in their early 20s who’d never heard a single other Ween song.  Sigh, I was definitely letting them pass me by.

Finally, sometime in the mid-90s, a friend of mine made me listen to Chocolate and Cheese, and I was hooked – and that is the perfect word because the album is chock full of hooks.  (Little known fact, when I was a child, my favorite snack was chocolate chip cookies and slices of American cheese – so I was clearly destined to love this album)   That was when I realized what a snotty douche I’d been.  All these years of disliking something I’d never heard, only to listen to it and realize it’s exactly the kind of music I listen, too.  It still pains me to this day to think about it.  But here at Old 67 we confront our issues; we face them head on and lay them out for you, the reader, to judge.  Think of us as a Creed song, without the hair.

If you’re like I was, uninitiated to the cult of Ween, then you probably think of them as a joke band as well.  If you’ve heard some songs, but not really listened to them, you might even think they are fairly talented, crossing genres as easily as the chicken crosses the road, but if you haven’t really listened to what they do, you might be missing just how special they were.

The phrase Experimental Music gets thrown around a lot these days.  All you need is a few keyboards, a computer, and some tape loops and suddenly you’re experimental – and usually pretty shitty, too (cough cough, Animal Collective, cough).  Ween embodies the phrase, without being pretentious enough to actually say it.  They just play what they like, and what they like is weird, trippy, and very far out there.  To say they bend genres is a disservice to what they do, the melt the faces off of every genre they tackle.   Metal Cock Rock? You can check that off with You Fucked Up.  Mix 70s Motorcycle Rock with Drunken Joe Coker?  I’ll take Fat Lenny please.  Feel like listening to a Prince song that’s actually funkier and dirtier than a Prince song?  L.L.M.Y.P is the song for you.  Psychedelic British Pop?  That’s What Deaner Was Talking About.  Philly Soul, complete with Boys to Men and Mannequin references? Freedom of ’76, with its falsettos and 70s Motown harmonizing pulls it off better than any of the bullshit “RnB” that has popped up since BTM hit the airwaves. Weird drunken bass splats and fart noises?  Take a listen to I’m in the Mood to Move and you’ll know that Frank Zappa is beaming wherever it is that experimental noise gods go when they pass from this world.  Want to hear a dark and bouncy Steely Dan song about a girl who tried to make it and couldn’t?  But you don’t want to listen to Steely Dan?  Try Pandy Fackler off of White Pepper, you’ll get your fill.  Super creepy songs about childhood?  You can check that off with Spinal Meningitis and Mister Won’t You Please Help My Pony, MWYPHMP includes this gem of a lyric “He coughed up snot in the driveway/And I think his lung’s fucked up”.

As the years went on, the band grew and relied less on manipulation, showcasing their pure talent instead.  They recorded a country Album (12 Golden Country Greats, its only 10 songs, the 12 greats are the backing band – “The Shit Creek Boys) that actually had great songs somehow infusing both country and the “traditional” Ween sound.  They  made a nautical themed prog rock album (The Mollusk, which they recorded in a beach rental and almost lost all of the songs when a water pipe (not that kind of water pipe) burst in the house – I really like the song Mutilated Lips, mostly because of the line “Everything is Turning Brown”, I once had a really bad trip in which everything did turn brown, I think if I’d had this song to play, I would have been able to get over it quicker.  Instead I went to the movies and saw Weekend at Bernie’s, which made me laugh my ass off – something that could only happen on acid) and in my opinion, made one of their best albums in Quebec – a culmination of the long strange trip that Ween has been.

On May 29th, Gene Ween (Aaron Freeman) let loose in a Rolling Stone interview, that Ween was officially over.  It wasn’t surprising to a lot of us, Aaron had been in rehab a few times, and he’d cleaned up, gotten skinny, and released a cover album of Rod McKuen songs.  Unfortunately, as with a lot of breakups, what wasn’t a surprise to us was a surprise to Dean (Mickey Melchiondo) who, after the announcement, posted on his Facebook page “News to me – all I can say for now, I guess.”

Maybe it isn’t true.  Maybe the Boognish is having a laugh at our expense, but I don’t think that’s the case.  Something as crazy and beautiful and perverse as Ween, can’t last forever.  In fact, it’s probably lasted too long.  I’m sad to see them go, but I’m glad they let me ride with them as long as they did.

Buenos Tardes, Amigos.


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