FROM: pure guava
the uninitiated or not-quite-initiated-enough may mistake ween’s sincerity for another side of their insincerity, which you could barely blame them for. they’re like boys crying wolf, except they’re typically crying shit way more insane than wolf, such prolific facetious jokesters that one may perceive equally an attempt to hit their funny bone from their most outwardly goofy larks as well as their perhaps ostensibly shocking intimate tracks, often times especially those where the proceedings are stripped to a bare minimum and our hero aaron freeman is singing, often beautifully, emotional naked, about Love and its many facets. surely they can’t be serious?
there are many elements that have dragged ween out of the doldrums of novelty music for me and many dedicated fans around the world, but perhaps the most obvious reason stares you in the face from a position so tightly packed next to the sillier or more crass tracks that it becomes difficult to understand or accept. right before sarah is PUMPIN 4 THE MAN after all, a gleeful helium-voiced stomp containing fleeting tales of hard labor and some peppered in homophobia for good measure (i know they were young but they still sing it this way. but thats an SJW rant for another review innit). meanwhile, right AFTER sarah we have springtheme which is stellar but about what exactly? it does more to reinforce the emotional hollowness of the band theoretically speaking, sincerity just becoming another suit for the band to wear just because they can, and at times that’s probably the case.
sarah on the other hand, is not that at all. sarah is indeed sincere, and you’d be forgiven for missing that if your ween fandom has not yet dipped into all the behind-the-scenes and lore. let it not be forgotten that beyond the chameleonic tomfoolery that gene and dean were still real guys, even back then, dealing with real shit. sometimes the sincerity came out in a manner uncomfortable *darts eyes at Nicole*, but it was always there at least in small doses, difficult to pluck from the source given expectations from a base understanding of the band, but there.
the mistaken assumptions of what ween even ARE dart from all direction to misperceive their mission statement, especially when it comes to some insinuation of their eye for satire. no doubt, ween are eclectic as the day is long but not out of some adept eye for conventions and deconstruction of them. ween’s musical impersonations may be goofy quite often, but that’s because the brothers ween are goofy, the music works because they like it, because they often give a shit about what they’re doing and do their damnedest to do it justice in the process. there’s a reason certain influence crop up more often, or why certain genres may take precedence on occasion.
maybe it makes the whole journey less interesting for you if it’s no longer a duo of kids taking the piss of all the most ridiculous tropes and excesses of the music they’re tackling, and rather they just simply dig this stuff and wanna do it while maintaining their own weirdness (because they were kids, so doesn’t that make more sense anyway), and that’s understandable. i wanted to believe it too, that there was this grand-scale lampooning of a huge array of music coming from the most unlikely source, a discography long middle finger of more genres than i knew existed. it still sort of is, but the picture no doubt has changed. however, it’s via this revelation that the trade off begins, once you understand ween’s sincerity in their music, you begin to unravel every layer of honesty in their music. make no mistake, the story changes at this point. the band that wrote a “song” of latino-accented restaurant order making actually has some real shit to say. who could have even guessed?
for years, for YEARS, i did not know sarah was about a real person, and i sure as shit didn’t know the gravity of that in the context of aaron’s entire life. I pegged it maybe a lampooning of the archetypal lighter-lifting balladry that becomes all too obligatory in the world of stadium rock, filling the packed room with a delicate antithesis to the noise pollution of your typical rockers, showing your Sensitive Side, perhaps dishonestly so for the gain of Many Ladies. it could still be a portion that, but never let it be forgotten that aaron delving into almost suffocating sacchrine music is not a big ironic statement but a torch carrying of his influences and inspirations in his upbringing. you’d not be blamed to peg it all as bullshit including faux-sincerity, but it is indeed quite the opposite.
the key to this is the history itself, gener’s adoration of very tender delicate awful banal garbage like that fucking shitty eric clapton song he covered (i wont name it because i wont lead more people into that abyss) is perhaps embarrassingly real, an indulgence in the cheesy and the excessive is part of his nature. the other crucial chunk of history involved in this greater context is off the stage. indeed, sarah was an object of affection for our tragic hero for longer than you’d think, and the emotional space that she has helped carve out for him has shifted alot over time, and there will be plenty of time to examine those individual space later on.
this one is quite simple however, a warm and atmospheric delicate strummer for the titular character, his girlfriend, his wife, his ex-wife. it can be a bit difficult (perhaps partially due to an insufficient interest?) to map out the timeline perfectly but at this point i believe she was either already his girlfriend or not quite yet. it’s a one-sided affair too, we don’t get to really know anything about sarah, we aren’t much made to care about her. it doesn’t matter if we do, all that matters is how much gener does. “i will tell you how much you mean to me”, gener coos as his voice reverberates across the seemingly endless void the song occupies, though i always imagine it as he’s alone on a stage, sat upon a stool. specifically i imagine it from far away, tucked in the back of the crowd, gathering in the scope of the bubble this moment is filling, the flangy chords swelling up into every corner and through every crevice in the space. sometimes the most powerful noise is a whisper, begging us, nay demanding us to lean in.
oh, but i shant forget our partner in crime. deaner falls back through the majority of the proceedings to let gener do his thing but when the time is right, he punctuates the mood with an endearingly clumsy solo of wonky plucking, almost sounding intentionally improvised and clueless, like an upstart band (which no but kinda?) performing their big hit for the first time for all the local kids. this is their time to shine, no more getting ignored. the big cheesy archetype movie moment where the outcasts become the heroes of the day, and who would be standing there perfectly in the center of the tidal wave of lighters?
our hero would already know the answer, eyes laser focused as he emits every word with purpose. it doesn’t matter if it’s complex, love doesn’t demand a profound poetic statement anyway. it’s more about feeling, and if you can’t feel what gener is saying here, well then i have news for you: you don’t actually know what he’s saying.