Luerssen, J. D. (2004). Rivers’ edge: The Weezer story. Toronto: ECW Press. 9781550226195
Reasons for Reading: As a child, one of things my family saw to was that I listened to good music. Now, I’m not necessarily talking about classical, opera, or show tunes. No, I mean Oldies – real Rock ‘n’ Roll, MoTown, Rhythm & Blues (rather than R&B), and Jazz. Country Western wasn’t considered music 🙂 . So, while I owned Debbie Gibson and MC Hammer tapes, I also heard my dad’s records of Elvis Presley, The Ventures, The Beach Boys, The Animals, etc (not an exhaustive list). On road trips, we listened to one of his favorites – Buddy Holly. Let’s just say the other kids weren’t down with these old guys, especially that nerdy guy on my t-shirt.
Fast forward to 1994, my classmates and I weren’t just listening to Nirvana and Ace of Base, but to Weezer, a new group where frontman Rivers Cuomo crooned “I look just like Buddy Holly.” Like the pioneer rocker, Cuomo also wore horn rimmed glasses. Yeah, life went on but Weezer continued to resonate. Thus, growing up listening to Weezer made me want to read a book about one of my all-time favorite groups. At first, I requested John D. Luerssen’s Rivers’ Edge: The Weezer Story via Inter-Library Loan (ILL). Ultimately, I purchased the book from Amazon.
Summary: Undeterred by the group not endorsing his proposed biography, Luerssen set out to write about Weezer, a music group he enjoyed. He describes Weezer’s ascent to super stardom and chronicles the bands ups (Blue Album, Green Album, and Maladroit) and downs (Pinkerton – “El Scorcho,” and “The Good Life.”)
At the center of this narrative is founder Rivers Cuomo, a brilliant musician and introvert who dons “Buddy Holly” glasses and other articles of nerdiness. Other founding members are the humorous drummer Patrick Wilson (definitely in “Keep Fishin‘”), “not second string to anyone” bassist Matt Sharp (check him out in this performance on The Late Show), and guitarist Jason Cropper. When Cropper left, he’s replaced by “Sass Master” Brian Bell (see the “The Impossible Bend“). Sharp left and was replaced by Mikey Welsh (Green Album – can be seen in “Hash Pipe” and “Island in the Sun“.) Welsh exited, his void being filled by current member Scott “Shrine Dog” Shriner (look at “Photograph” and “Dope Nose.”) Luerssen offers a “no stone unturned” account of this contemporary group.
What I Liked: It was good finding out what Cuomo’s songs meant to Cuomo and what they all felt about making videos, particularly “Undone – The Sweater Song.”
I admired Bell’s support of Cuomo during their hiatus and the loyalty of unofficial fifth member Karl Koch, fans Mykel, Carli, and the Rebel Weezer Alliance.
Lastly, I loved how I could recall where I was when most of these events took place – definitely when reading about NASA Commander William McCool. In other words, we’re contemporaries.
What I Disliked: This book was published in 2004. That means the book predates the following:
- “Beverly Hills“
- “Perfect Situation“
- “We Are All on Drugs“
- “Pork and Beans“
- “The Greatest Man that Ever Lived“
- “I’m Your Daddy“
- “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To“
Also, I didn’t care for the tangents of the band member’s other projects. Sorry, I’m not that crazy about “Friends of P.” Doesn’t the title suggest that it should focus on Rivers Cuomo, anyhow?
Then, there’s the belaboring of Cuomo’s affinity for Asian women. Of course, the book came out before Cuomo married in 2006. Cuomo address this in the general media in 2007 “Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo on Asian Women.” Luerssen paints Cuomo as a fetishist control freak, too.
Oh, and before I forget, I would’ve loved for this book to have an index!
Three Out of Five Pearls
Setting: United States
You Might Also Like:
- Rachel Cohn and David Levithan’s Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
- Sidney Bechet’s Treat It Gentle
- Jack Kerouc’s On the Road
For more on John D. Luerssen’s Rivers’ edge: The Weezer story, please check out the following links :
- BOOK REVIEW: River’s Edge – The Weezer Story – Blogcritics Books
- Review – Book: River’s Edge – The Weezer Story
- Rivers’ Edge: The Weezer Story Hits The Shelves | Online gamers home
Some More Weezer Links:
- The Conversation: Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo – YouTube
- Rivers Cuomo Harvard Interview – YouTube
- Rivers Cuomo Messes You Up Forever | The Awl