Jan 16, 2014, 09:14AM

The Glories of "Susanne"

On Weezer's finest three minutes.

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Here is my problem with Weezer's "Susanne": once I start listening to it, after a long and fitful absence, I can’t stop. Everything that made Weezer 1.0 undeniable is somehow distilled into an impossibly catchy 2:47, and that's never, ever enough. The thing just takes over my life, shoving everything else out of the frame. One spin becomes 10 with an ease that's utterly disconcerting. The magic lies, of course, in those brawny Al's Diner guitars and the massed doo-wop vocals arcing over them, Rivers Cuomo's barred-soul steez veering into cheese. Weezer favor a mid-tempo grind until the end, when the song and Cuomo experience a sort of delayed ejaculation of emotion that tips the scales in terms of overall, co-dependent ridiculousness on offer here. For "Susanne" is nothing if not a devotional song, albeit an anthemic, fist-pumping one.

And, sure, that's some of the thrill: it's like hanging out on a mountaintop with your best bro while he beats his chest like Godzilla and screams about his love for a girl way, way down there in a parking lot, through a megaphone, with Valkyries backing him up. That shit is inspiring, but on the other hand, the chick he's valorizing seems almost too perfect, like the idealized version of a girlfriend of a chronic sad sack—the sort of narcissistic dick who's forever auditioning mommy surrogates. "Susanne" is almost entirely about what Susanne has done, and can do, for the narrator: feeding him, clothing him, brightening his day, blowing off Guns'N'Roses to tend to his needs. When Cuomo howls "I'm your child, make me blush, drive me wild" on the chorus, the jig is up, but the heretofore established intense sincerity carries the listener through the facade, somehow.

"There isn't much, I can give you in return/Only my heart, and I'll promise not to turn," Cuomo pleads during the ejaculatory interval, snapping his lyrics apart, like puzzle pieces, into weirdly unnatural syllables. "I'll sing to you, every day and every niiiiiiight/Susanne, I'm your man," he quails, truly showing his hand at last: purest artifice. And suddenly the idea of serenading any woman with this song seems bizarre, over the top, too much, utter rock-star camp. In that sense, it's a harbinger of Weezers 2.0 and 3.0, where songcraft fully eclipsed forthrightness, and every lead single had to be read through a bunch of winks. I sometimes like to imagine that "Susanne" is actually presented from the point of view of a stray cat, dog, or parakeet, and that Cuomo smiles a dark quiet smile to himself every time Weezer whip this one out on the road.


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