If you’re like me, you spend too much time with the arthouse crowd, and after a while of this, you get to thinking that creative expression always has to be about the most serious, depressing subjects imaginable. After the 50th or so listening party for an album about death and heartbreak, you get to hoping for a bit of light, some sweetness to mix in with the bitter of everyday life. Maybe even some tropical-themed songs about casual drug use. But who on Earth could provide such a service? Enter Ween, your new favorite band.
Turns out they’ve been around for over 30 years, but it was only two months ago that I saw the light and ran headfirst into their 17-album catalogue. As per usual, I’ll recommend going in with nothing: no info, no Wikipedia research, no asking friends. I won’t even give you a genre. In fact, I probably couldn’t even if I tried.
Their debut album alone (God Ween Satan, 1990) spans rock, post-punk, acid-dance, rockabilly, and a very twisted take on doo-wop. Further into the 90s they made a full album of country songs (12 Golden Country Greats, 1996), busted out some funk (Chocolate and Cheese, 1994), and even dipped into sea shanties (The Mollusk, 1997). But Ween’s status as genre chameleons is only a surface feature. The heart of this music is the lyrics, lyrics that do not, cannot, will not conform to anyone’s expectations.
A depressingly large portion of musicians only ever write songs about love, relationships, heartbreak, getting laid or failing to get laid, blah blah blah. And sure, Ween spends some time in that area, too, with songs like, “You F****d Up,” “Nicole,” “She F**ks Me,” and “Japanese Cowboy,” but their range then extends much further into just about every major aspect of existence. I.e. …
Songs about deadly diseases: “Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down),” and “The HIV Song.”
Songs about food: “Pollo Asado,” and “Pork Roll Egg and Cheese.”
Songs about fictional superhero-like figures: “Dr. Rock,” “Captain Fantasy,” and “Ocean Man.”
Songs about insects: “Bumblebee,” and “Tick.”
Songs about other band members: “I Saw Gener Cryin’ In His Sleep,” and “What Deaner Was Talkin’ About.”
Songs About genitalia: “Waving My D**k in the Wind,” “L.M.L.Y.P.,” an “Flies on My D**k.”
After being knee-deep in ‘serious’ media for so long, finding Ween is a saving grace. They are a two-man tribute to art that gives absolutely no s**ts what anyone thinks about it. And in the end, there will always be people drawn to that kind of total abandon, people who just need a break already, who want to spend some time thinking and talking and dancing to music that as weird and wild as the human race itself.
So this is me hoping to spread the Gospel of Ween, 30 years too late, a gospel which, if I had to guess, would have lots of typos, an abundance of graphics to make for easy reading, and plenty of centerfolds.