Ruminations on TV Shows, Comics, And Music
Ween fandom is sketchier than Saturday Night Live. I can not, in good conscience, recommend anyone get Really Into Ween. They're a band that I won't think about for years, and then someone will mention a word that shows up in one of their songs, and that song is stuck in my head for a week. Very rarely are they songs I would ever sing in public.
I didn't know about Ween until I lived in a house full of drug dealers in Vermont. I was not a drug dealer, I was barely a casual drug user. But rent was cheap, the room was offered to me, and they were all, in addition to being drug dealers, creative and interesting people with a variety of non-drug centered jobs. Also, all but one of them only dealt weed, nobody was breaking down our doors with submachine guns for bananas and blow.
After about six months living in the house, I needed to take a trip to Chicago, and was not looking forward to Greyhounding it. As ... luck ? would have it, one of my roommate's girlfriends (as in "my many roommates were all dating people", not "one of my roommate's various girlfriends) was on her way to Columbus, Ohio, where I would still have to grab a bus, but I would be on it for ten fewer hours. The thing was ... she and two of her friends were going to see a band I didn't know much about, Ween. But they weren't just three random people going to see a rock show ten hours away from home, they were three white girls who were dressing up as geishas to go see a band ten hours away. Even in 2000, I was, like "Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah." But I needed the ride.
The ride kinda sucked, and I should have just taken the bus. But before the trip, I decided to bone up on Ween. Three of my four roommates had Ween records. Not CDs, not tapes, records. So I got to listen to them on Vinyl, hook them up to my cassette deck / CD player, and record my own mix, pretty much precisely as I do with these Reimagined Discographies, but decidedly more lofi.
Ween is ... not always my thing. They're super talented, but they try on different genres of music like they're pairs of shoes at a used clothing shop. Some consistently work, some work sporadically, and some tracks I bowed out of superquick.
One of their hooks is Shock Humor. Which is not my thing at all. But a bunch of their music overcomes it, or is just falsely shocking. There's a track I'll get to in the description that has a sweet origin, but sounds like it's tacky. And then there are some tracks that ARE tacky or problematic as Adam Corolla's fetid (that's a thought not worth completing). Some of their tracks are tacky or problematic. With one exception, I've only included offensive tracks that are targeted at a demographic I'm part of. And there's only one that is a diss track. It's filled with anti-gay terminology in its lyrics, but Ween isn't anti-gay or homophobic, they were a couple of party-focused music nerds with queer friends who filled a song with deliberately outdated stereotypes and put it to catchy music. I will totally understand if you hate it / never want to listen to it. But if it were hateful, I would be the person the song was targeting, and I think it's too ridiculous (and non-threatening, or I wouldn't bother with it) to be taken seriously, and the music is a joy.
We'll start with a song you could play out in public, provided someone wasn't listening too too closely to the lyrics. There are no swears, no overt sexuality (I mean, it's all about sex, but in a radio friendly way). Voodoo Lady is just a really catchy dance track about ... ummm ... is it about being pegged? That tracks. It does use the word voodoo, which could be viewed as appropriation, but it doesn't attempt to talk about voodoo, it just uses it as an adjective frequently used in rock classics. It's dancey as jitter. (Triggers: somewhat subtle reference to being pegged, innuendo, geographically prejudice suggesting that someone might "make love" to gators.)
12 Country Classics is probably my favorite Ween album. They really nail the country sound, musically, and somewhat thematically, while deliberately getting the words completely wrong in often, but not always, delightful ways. Don't Shit Where You Eat My Friend is a profane song filled with good advice. Who doesn't need one of those in their life? And then there's a little surf acoustic rock tacked on the end. Yee-ha? (Triggers: the word "shit" is in the title so there's naughty language but they're not actually talking about eating shit, so it's not as gross as the title might have you fearing.)
The band goes all grungey both musically and vocally for I Can't Put My Finger On It, perhaps, the best song ever about not being able to identify why you do or don't like a gyro. (Triggers: fuzzed out vocals, it's totally inoffensive.)
Ok. I get why you wouldn't trust an often provocative band to put out something called The HIV Song. I totally understand. But I read an interview where either Dean or Gene Ween talked about living in New York City, and having most of their friends be queer members of the theater and music communities, and how watching them get sick and die was terrifying. They coped by cutting a ridiculously circus jingle where the only lyrics are the alternating HIV and AIDS at the end of each instrumental verse. Is it weird? Yes. Is it offensive? No. (Trigger warning: if the words "HIV" and "AIDS" offend you just by existing, this song is super not for you. But there's no commentary about it at all, there are just those two words blandly said at the end of instrumental verses.)
There's a late 70s / early 80s funk vibe melded with 90s alternative rock in Exactly Where I'm At that I love. It's a song about dealing with fame. There are no trigger warnings for this song. It's totally safe to play in public.
Take Me Away is more funk-infused alternative rock. It's a generic, misogyny tinted song. And, by misogynic, I mean in the way pretty much all bland rock and R&B and disco and funk and country and opera and folk and polkas and rap songs can be misogynist. A guy asks to be taken away from a girl that's "driving him crazy". That's it. No objectivity, or name calling, or insults. He never calls her "crazy". He is just driven crazy because of unrequited love. (Trigger warning: If you're the kind of person who finds the casual use of "crazy" as ableist and unlistenable, you should already be ten miles away from this album.)
Just the title Waving My Dick In The Wind tells you whether or not you're probably in the right frame of mind to listen to the song, right? It's a take on Mr. Bojangles, where, presumably, the dance move involves waving genitalia in appreciation of someone you love. (Trigger warning: the title, getting old sucks.)
The most offensive song on the album is almost definitely Mister Richard Smoker. It's a series of dated references to homosexuality. It's just 2:30 seconds of telling someone who is out and gay that they're out and gay. But in dated language. It makes no judgement. But it sets it to country blues piano and strings. Why? Who. Knows. But it's delightful. (Trigger warning: It's easy to see this as homophobic based on the terminology, even though there are no slur words, just slur terminology like "poopy poker" and "velvet coker". Terms not at all meant to be taken seriously.)
Another country twang song that is lyrically weird but thematically country is the hangover jamboree Help Me Scrape The Mucus Off My Brain. The most problematic part of the song is the sound of the word "mucus", so if you can handle that word, you'll be fine. (Trigger warning: He spent the dog food money. Also, he's totally hungover.)
You are well within your right to skip Spinal Meningitis. It's a type of song that Ween has done a few times, but this is the only one I've included. It's a dark alternative / new wave brood with creepy child voiced verses and a draggy chorus. It's guitar riff at the end comes out of nowhere. Like many an 80s metal riff. (Trigger: spooky child voiced lyrics about dying.)
If Jimmy Buffet collaborated with Ween ... what's that, you're leaving? Come Back! ... it would have produced the steel-drum tropical dance song Bananas And Blow. This is the Ween song that most gets stuck in my head. (Trigger warnings: drugs are bad, kid. This song is less blatant and offensive than Eric Clapton's "Cocaine" or, literally, anything by The Weeknd.)
Happy Colored Marbles is incredibly reminiscent of the music of "Bananas And Blow". It's actually from the very limited Weendow of time after I stopped listening to Ween but before they stopped producing new music. It's a song about not "losing your marbles" but temporarily giving them away when you don't want to deal with them. Either way, its lyrics are entirely unproblematic. This is another song that it's completely okay to play in public, though the end gets instrumentally heavy and plodding. The lyrics are fine. No trigger warning.
Another song to completely judge by the title is Flies On My Dick. The singer has a partner that wants to do drugs with him but doesn't want to fuck, hence the title. In the end, he "knows what (he) must do" and jerks off. (Trigger warning: Sex references, the word "dick" is right there in the title. But he never judges the person for not having sex with him.)
Do you need a country song satirizing the trope of asking a partner to leave because she's a nag? Do you need it filled with mild mostly radio friendly profanity until the chorus which includes the "B" word? You really don't but I still like this song. Piss Up A Rope is filled with deliberately misogynist language. It's satire, but it's not gentle satire. (Trigger warning: Country songs are often misogynist, particularly when they try and be funny songs about the end of relationships. Objectification. Suggestions that the person have sex with them if they want to stay. The words "shit" and "bitch".)
Much the way you can imagine their country songs are legitimately country musicians singing heartfelt lyrics, Don't Get 2 Close 2 My Fantasy could definitely be confused for a Bowie-derivative New Wave band sincerely singing about a father advising his son about one of their deaths ? (Trigger: Some people think this song is about molestation. I think that's a difficult leap to make, but it's not completely out of nowhere.)
Transdermal Celebration is another "past my time" Ween song that I like. It sounds like Stone Temple Pilots singing about crustaceans growing out of their shells. So ... maybe it's about the band outgrowing the reputation they achieved from their Mollusk album? No triggers.
Dean Ween is one half of the band. So Gene Ween sings about What Deaner Was Talking About. A song that seems to me to be about anxiety and having your first panic attack, which someone close to you has told you about, and now you get what they meant. But that's a stab in the dark. It's not a very direct song about anything. No triggers, which is kind of surprising for a song about panic attacks.
Ween's only actual hit was Push The Little Daisies, a vocally tweaked song about death and girls where the lead singer sounds like Cartmen, even though the song predates "South Park" by five or six years. While it's definitely their biggest hit, it's not even close to their best song. But it's fun. (Triggers: The lead singer sounds like Eric Cartmen.)
Casual misogyny is the basis for the music industry. Seriously. It just it. Pandy Fackler is a song about loving a prostitute. Not saving a prostitute. Not degrading her. Just mentioning that she's a working girl. It does also suggest she's either homeless or high enough to eat cotton candy from a garbage can. It doesn't frame it as being gross. The music is keyboard pop. (Trigger: one of the lyrics is "sucking dick under the promenade" which is a ridiculous phrase.)
When I made the original version of this mix back in 2001, I was making it from vinyl, so I was able to play with speeds, so I recorded Drifter In The Dark at its original speed for the first two verses, and then bumped it up a speed so the main vocals were pitched fast, but the echo vocals were at normal speed. The actual version has the main vocals at regular speed, with echo vocals slowed down. I prefer hearing the song both ways, but I don't have either a record player or this record to recreate it. (Triggers: vocals played at the wrong speed.)
Buenos Tardes Mi Amigo is a Western film sung from the perspective of a Mexican character. I don't know Michael "Mickey" Melchiondo (Dean Ween)'s nationality. He could be Latino. But this is definitely a put-on accent comparable to what you'd hear in an American Western (or Spaghetti Western) film. You could see this ending up on the second Kill Bill soundtrack. It's perfect in its faithfulness to the genre. And it's a cool narrative. I forgot most of the lyrics. The second time I listened to it this year, I was at work (after the store was closed) and said "Don't poison the chicken!" to the song, which my coworker overheard, and, as she wasn't listening to the lyrics, had no idea what I was talking about. (Trigger: fake Mexican accent in service of genre.)
I don't have to understand Freedom Of '76 to like it. It's vaguely about how fake and awful America is without making any controversial statements? (Triggers: falsetto. "Mannequin was filmed at Woolworth's.")
Japanese Cowboy has one offensive line that it repeats three times. Hands down. Yeup. It's ungentle satire where the lead singer talks about things that ain't right. One of them is the title, the other is brothers on skates, which was a shitty 90s joke about the whiteness of hockey, but I prefer to imagine is about how weird it would be to see a monk figure skating. If you cut out the two references I've mentioned, this is a perfectly wonderful country satire song. But I guess that's the hook, that country is a problematic genre. (Triggers: already mentioned. It's a shitty repeated line.)
This mix ends with another song post-my time listening to Ween. Hey There, Fancypants is delightful. It is non-problematic. It's also not a ballad. I know I usually end albums on a mellow fade out, but since most Ween songs are, at their core, honest but surfacely insincere, I decided to end on a nice, bouncy song about how soul crushing it is to be a performer.