About a month ago, I attended a Ween tribute band’s performance. Weener – as the tribute band calls themselves – played for almost four freaking hours! I admit, I am not a huge Ween fan – more of a casual listener. I mean, Ween is weird and at times esoteric – maybe a little too weird and esoteric. I knew about a quarter of the songs Weener played. Of course there were some hardcore Ween fans that knew all the songs, and all the lyrics to the songs. Seemingly normal people, all singing along to the weirdness that is Ween (by way of Weener).
I suppose these fans are akin to me knowing almost every song They Might Be Giants has ever done. Unlike TMBG fandom – there was a bit of a cult like feel to the Ween fans (I mean that in a positive way). It’s the same feeling you get with Deadheads. The Ween fans in the room all seemed to know each other, and welcomed me – an obvious casual listener – with open arms. Yes – Ween is weird – but weird isn’t a negative thing. So in the spirit of the weirdness that is ween, I invite you to explore a few songs with me.
“Ocean Man” – The Mollusk (1997)
You might know “Ocean Man” already. This song appears in a Honda Civic commercial, as well as during the end credits of the The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie. The song might be one of Ween’s less weird songs, and certainly one of the more accessible songs in the Ween catalog. It’s a fun song for sure – and one of the few that can be played at parties and around all ages (I deemed it clean enough for one of my playlists).
The lyrics for “Ocean Man” read like poetry. The verses hold a tight formation – with the first three lines starting with “Ocean Man” and the fourth line starting with “Soaking up.” Seriously – looking at the lyrics on paper, I’m somewhat reminded of a near sonnet. Of course, the lyrics themselves paint a picture. Life of a – well – an Ocean Man. A person who lives under the sea. Ocean Man certainly stands as a great gateway song for people who don’t know the band’s other songs.
“Push Th’ Little Daisies” – Pure Guava (1992)
My thesis is “Ween is Weird and that’s ok,” but in this song’s case – maybe Ween is a little too weird. I introduced my girlfriend to Ween via “Push Th’ Little Daisies,” and she told me I’m never allowed to play the song in her presence ever again. The fans of Ween aren’t necessarily fond of the song either, saying that this song really is the worst song on “Pure Guava.”
Surprisingly – “Push Th’ Little Daisies” is Ween’s biggest hit. The song hit at just the right time – when the alternative revolution of the early 90s came around and the radio stations were looking for every unknown, off kilter bands they could find. Why did I include this song? Mainly because the song was my first introduction to Ween.
Honestly – if the song didn’t have the most annoying vocals one could imagine, it would be a lot more listenable. So listen to the song with an open mind. If the vocals scare you, the video is halfway entertaining at least.
“Piss Up a Rope” – 12 Golden Country Greats (1996)
“Piss Up a Rope” is done in a country style (as was all of 12 Golden Country Greats). The song shows an angry man telling his woman, what for. The speaker obviously has a bunch of pent up aggression towards his soon to be ex-lover. Sounds pretty harsh, right? Well, I cannot listen to this song without laughing. The lyrics feature such candids! Let’s look at the first chorus:
You can piss up a ropePiss Up a Rope lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Downtown Music Publishing
And you can put on your shoes, hit the road get truckin’
Pack your bag, I don’t need the ag
On your knees you big, booty bitch start suckin’
You ride my ass like a horse in a saddle
Now you’re up shits creek with a turd for a paddle
And I can’t cope piss up a rope
The song only goes further down the hole as it progresses. The chorus repeats, several times with more and more absurdities inserted every round. “Piss Up a Rope” not only serves as the best song on the album – but maybe one of Ween’s best songs period.
“Your Party” – La Cucaracha (2007)
This song disturbs me with how simple it sounds. Basically ‘Your Party” sounds like a musical thank you note. Interestingly enough – it also sounds like the antithesis of another song released the same year: Air’s “One Hell of a Party.” This is probably a coincidence. Having said that Ween’s songs are often times parodies – so….possibly maybe the two songs are related after all?
Speaking of parodies – you might notice that the songs I’ve listed all have a different sound. We have a Carribean sounding song, a exaggerated pop song, a country song, and now an ethereal song. Ween does not commit to a specific genre, but rather borrows from, and even lampoons whatever genre fits. Even if this song does not lampoon Air, “Your Party” does lampoon the genre that Air inhabits.
“Bananas and Blow” – White Pepper (2000)
There’s got to be some deeper meaning to this song. There’s just got to be a metaphor, or a quirky story that inspired this song. Well – to quote Freud, “Sometimes a pencil is just a pencil.” Note – I’m not sure Freud actually said that – but I digress.
Let’s be honest. Ween has done a lot of drugs and substance abuse almost destroyed Ween. Aaron Freeman, aka Gene(r) Ween, collapsed on stage during a concert because of his drug abuse and basically quit the band at that point.
Mickey Melchiondo, aka Dean(er) Ween also has done a lot of drugs. Rumor has it, he wrote this song after a trip to the caribbean where he ate a lot of bananas and did a lot of blow.
Ween’s substance usage is not my business or yours. Having said that, the takeaway on this song: Ween’s music, especially their earlier songs, are a drug fueled what the heck fest. Sometimes their songs reflect the effects of drugs in a humorous way – such as “Bananas and Blow.” Sometimes, their music reflects their use of drugs in a more eccentric and experimental way (ie their entire first album). Like I’ve said before – Ween is Weird.
“Baby Bitch” – Chocolate and Cheese (1994)
I always equate this song, and really this entire album with Yanni. Why? Because of this NSFW image. I imagine singing this specific song to Yanni – because he really is a – well – I’m getting off topic here.
“Baby Bitch” sounds like a heartbreaking and hanky waving homage to an Elliot Smith song. The song also sounds like an antithesis to the aforementioned “Piss up a Rope.” Sure – both songs involve the singer telling their lover to go away. However, “Piss Up a Rope” shows a different type of emotion – an almost confident, celebratory anger. On the other hand, “Baby Bitch,” gives us a lot more negative emotions. The singer of this song really does not want to say goodbye – rather they have to say goodbye.
“Mononucleosis” – The Pod (1991)
In researching this article, I asked the Ween Subreddit, “What are some things a non Ween fan should know about Ween?” The top comment was “I always felt like the fact that The Pod was recorded while they had mononucleosis is pretty essential.” From there, the conversation digressed into who wrote this song for who.
Regardless of if Deener wrote “Mononucleosis” for Geener, or vice versa – that’s not important. The very fact that one of these dudes wrote this song for the other dude seems sweet. Mind you – when the duo met in an eighth grade typing class, they kind of hated each other. Yet their mutual love for music brought them together. From what I’ve observed in various interviews and articles, the duo have become brothers because of their music.
Of course, the music has a power on Ween fans as well, as I’ve already mentioned. The fans really are amazing people, The fans accept each other, and they accept outsiders. Sure – the fans and Ween might be quirky, esoteric and just a little odd at times – but it sounds like they have something they can teach us all. Ween is weird – but maybe we all need to be a little Ween weird.
“Monique The Freak” – Shinola (Vol 1.) (2005)
Is there a deeper meaning to “Monique the Freak?” I’m sure there is – at least a charming story of a girl they knew or something. Maybe Monique does not really show her “freak side” except for on the dance floor. Maybe she shows her freaky side all of the time – I don’t know, I’m grasping for straws here.
Regardless – “Monique the Freak” just makes you want to dance, 1990s club style. I could see Prince himself writing this song – as it bears his brand of funky groves. If there’s a takeaway from this song, it’s simple: shut up and dance!
“The Mollusk” – The Mollusk (1997)
“The Mollusk” feels like a long, epic track, and yet it only lasts two minutes and 36 seconds. Why? The story telling! That’s why. “The Mollusk makes good use of its time and gives the listener quite a full fledged story.”
A little boy finds a mollusk on the beach, and an adult sees an opportunity to teach the boy about sea life. The little boy makes two friends that day – the adult and the mollusk. Pretty innocent, right?
Well – maybe not. I’ve read some pretty R rated interpretations of the song. I’ll let you make your own interpretations on this specific song – innocent or perverse. I will say that Deener really likes the song.
Aaron played the song with the vocals he had written. It was so fucking great. It was the best song we’d ever done. I couldn’t believe that he had taken what I had done with the music. I had no idea what the song was about! I was surf-casting, I came back in, heard the vocals, and was like, “Holy shit.” If we were on to something before, now it was anchored. We listened to it a thousand times. I was like, “This is the title track.” From then on, we had the keys to the record and how it should be done.– Mickey Melchiondo
“Voodoo Lady” (Live) – Live at Stubbs (2003)
I really like the original version of Voodoo Lady. The song gives the listener a euphoric, magical, voodoo spell. However, I included the live version because while the original might sound fun – the live version blows you away!
“Voodoo Lady” (Live) showcases the dedication Ween shows to their songs, not to mention their raw talent for instrumentation. The insane guitar solos draws the listener in and makes you wish you were at that concert. One thing’s for sure – next time I get the chance – I’m seeing Ween live. Why? Because of this song! Wow. Just wow.
Ween is weird – but that’s ok.
One does not just dive blindly into Ween as really, not all Ween songs are for everyone. There are indeed some songs, even entire albums, that are an acquired taste. There are also songs that won’t do it for you, even if you become a hardcore fan. Again – Ween is weird. Still – Ween is a worthwhile band to invest your musical currency into. I’ve given you a start to your enjoyment of this band. You’ve heard a lot of diverse songs. And yes – even though not all Ween songs are for everyone, Ween is a band that offers something for everyone.
Some final advice….if you don’t get a song….skip over it. If you’re confused by a lyric and look up the meaning, only to find some meaningless lore, let it go. If you get offended by a Ween song – well congratulations. While there’s something for everyone, there’s also something to offend everyone. Just remember my thesis: Ween is weird, but that’s ok!