Songs from the Black Hole

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Songs from the Black Hole
Songs from the Black Hole cover
Replicated cover of the cassette cover seen in the Alone booklet), likely not a final cover.
Demo by Weezer
Released Unreleased
Recorded Demoed Christmas 1994 at (Beverly's home, February 1995 in Hamburg Germany, various studio recordings in 95 and 96.
Genre Alternative rock, progressive rock
Length Tracklist 2 was aprx. 25 minutes
Label Would have been DGC Records
Producer Rivers Cuomo
Weezer chronology
Weezer
(1994)
Songs from the Black Hole
(1995)
Pinkerton
(1996)
Alternate cover
Fan made cover.  It has become somewhat the "official" cover for fans.
Fan made cover. It has become somewhat the "official" cover for fans.

Songs from the Black Hole (or SFTBH) is an unreleased, unfinished Weezer album. This space themed rock opera/musical was originally envisioned as the follow-up album to The Blue Album, but during the course of songwriting/demoing, the concept was discarded, and the project evolved into the album Pinkerton. Several of the SFTBH songs ended up on Pinkerton or as single b-sides, some of which were slightly altered lyrically or sonically. SFTBH was, in the words of songwriter Rivers Cuomo, "supposed to be a whole album of songs transed together," meaning a seamless flow from one song to the next (previous examples of this technique include the closing medley of The Beatles' Abbey Road and various Pink Floyd albums including The Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall, and Wish You Were Here).

In a 2007 Rolling Stone magazine 'Rock & Roll Daily' feature the album was called one of rock music's "mythical lost masterpieces." In an April 2007 issue of the Australian weekly print mag "Zoo", the album was named number seven in their "Top Ten Never Released Albums" list.

Contents

History

The characters of the story were to be Jonas (voiced by Rivers), Laurel (voiced by Rachel Haden of that dog.), Maria (voiced by Joan Wasser of the Dambuilders), Wuan & Dondo (voiced by Brian Bell and Matt Sharp, respectively), and a robot called M1 (voiced by Karl Koch via the use of a vocoder). At the time, Wasser was unaware of Rivers' intention of having her play a role on the album.

In the words of Rivers, taken from an interview in the November 15, 2007 issue of Rolling Stone, "There's this crew - three guys and two girls and a mechanoid - that are on this mission in space to rescue somebody, or something. The whole thing was really an analogy for taking off, going out on the road and up the charts with a rock band, which is what was happening to me at the time I was writing this and feeling like I was lost in space."

Over the course of writing the album, Rivers, who'd enrolled at Harvard in the fall of 1995, was inspired to change his focus from the space rock opera theme of SFTBH to the Madame Butterfly-influenced theme that permeates Pinkerton. Pinkerton was released on September 24, 1996 and included the songs "Tired of Sex", "Getchoo", "No Other One", and "Why Bother?". These four songs had been written prior to the conception of SFTBH but reshaped for SFTBH. Rivers had once more reworked them for inclusion on Pinkerton. Further leftovers "Devotion", "Waiting on You", and "I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams" surfaced as b-sides to the Pinkerton singles "El Scorcho" and "The Good Life". "I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams" is notable as it features Rachel Haden singing lead vocals, in the role that was originally intended for SFTBH.

In 2002, several SFTBH demos were leaked on the internet. These included "Blast Off!", "Oh No, This Is Not For Me", "Come to My Pod", "Tired of Sex" and "Longtime Sunshine". Another demo, "You Won't Get With Me Tonight", was officially released on the 2003 compilation Buddyhead Presents: Gimme Skelter. A very short clip of the band rehearsing "Superfriend" in Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California, in January 1996, was released on the Weezer DVD Video Capture Device in 2004.

Sheet music and lyrics for several unreleased Songs from the Black Hole tracks were made available by Rivers on his MySpace starting on April 30, 2006. Lyrics were posted for "Blast Off!", "Who You Callin' Bitch?", "Oh Jonas", "Please Remember", "Oh No, This Is Not For Me", "She's Had a Girl", and "Now I Finally See", while sheet music was posted for "She's Had a Girl", "Who You Callin' Bitch?" and "Oh Jonas". It remains to be seen whether this will continue for the rest of the SFTBH material. He has also revealed that the song "Lisa", long thought to be part of Track List 2 (see below) and the name of the second female character, was not actually part of SFTBH. This left the character's name to be unknown (for the time being). Rivers could not recall the name, but referred to her as "the good girl."

In a November 2006 interview with a Bloomfield Hills local radio station Pat Wilson told two students that he remembers being caught in Germany and Rivers using a recording studio to record what he wanted to be a rock album. Pat stated that he never knew more about SFTBH other than Rivers wanted to make a concept album.

On December 18, 2007, Rivers Cuomo released a collection of his home demos entitled Alone: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo. The collection contained demos from 1992 until 2007. The collection also included five demos for songs intended for or included on Songs From the Black Hole: "Longtime Sunshine", "Blast Off!", "Who You Callin' Bitch?", "Dude, We're Finally Landing", and "Superfriend." This was the first time fans got to hear "Who You Callin' Bitch?", "Dude, We're Finally Landing", and a high quality version of "Superfriend." In the Alone booklet, Rivers explained some of the plot points of the musical, and, after having reviewed his journal notes of SFTBH, revealed that the Good Girl's name is Laurel.

Three more tracks were released November 25, 2008 on Alone 2, including "Oh Jonas", "Please Remember", and "Come To My Pod".

Three copies of a demo version of SFTBH are known to exist in CD-R form. Two of them are in the care of Karl Koch, while the third copy is in Rivers' personal archive. These CDs contain the tracks from Track List 2 (see below).

Track Lists

Of the two track lists composed for the album, Track List 2 is supposedly closer to what the finished album's track list would have been. Rivers compiled Track List 2 using several newly recorded songs and took out numerous songs that apparently were no longer needed, either due to their new status as 'real' second album songs, or due to simple creative changes of heart.

Track List 1

  1. "Blast Off!" (2:02)
  2. "You Won't Get with Me Tonight" (3:28)
  3. "Maria's Theme" (0:26)
  4. "Come to My Pod" (1:31)
  5. "This Is Not For Me" (0:44)
  6. "I'm Tired Of Having Sex" (2:42)
  7. "Superfriend" (3:30)
  8. "She's Had a Girl" (0:55)
  9. "Good News!" (1:05)
  10. "Now I Finally See" (0:40)
  11. "Gitchoo" (2:54)
  12. "I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams" (2:38)
  13. "There is No Other One" (2:46)
  14. "Devotion" (3:16)
  15. "What Is This I Find?" (1:20)
  16. "Longtime Sunshine" (3:17)
  17. "Longtime Sunshine (Reprise)" (0:30)

Track List 2

  1. "Blast Off!" (2:02)
  2. "Who You Callin' Bitch?" (0:45)
  3. "Oh Jonas" [renamed from "Maria's Theme"] (0:26)
  4. "Please Remember" (0:37)
  5. "Come to My Pod" (1:31)
  6. "Oh No, This Is Not For Me" (0:44)
  7. "Tired of Sex" (2:42)
  8. "She's Had a Girl" (0:55)
  9. "Dude, We're Finally Landing" [renamed from "Good News!"] (1:05)
  10. "Now I Finally See" (0:40)
  11. "I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams" (2:38)
  12. "Superfriend" (3:30)
  13. "Superfriend (Reprise)" (0:25)
  14. "You Won't Get with Me Tonight" (3:28)
  15. "What Is This I Find?" (1:20)

Other Songs

  1. "Why Bother?"*
  2. "Waiting on You"
  3. "Longtime Sunshine (Special 'Coda' Mix)"

Note: These songs are not officially on either track list but were worked on along with the rest of the SFTBH tracks at the time.

  • On a version of "You Won't Get With Me Tonight" the bass intro for "Why Bother?" is featured at the end of the song, suggesting that it might have followed it on tracklist #1. After Jonas tells Maria he won't sleep with her, he continues to explain why, and that what they feel "is just sexual attracktion" and that he'll be heartbroken when she leaves him.

"You Won't Get with Me Tonight" can be found on the compilation Gimme Skelter. "Longtime Sunshine", "Blast Off!", "Who You Callin' Bitch?", "Dude, We're Finally Landing", and "Superfriend" were officially released on Alone: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo and "Oh Jonas", "Please Remeber" and "Come To My Pod" on Alone II. "Oh No, This is Not For Me" can be found online.

Formal studio versions of "Tired of Sex", "Getchoo", "No Other One", and "Why Bother?" are included on Pinkerton as the first four tracks. "I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams" and "Waiting on You" may be found on "The Good Life" single and "Devotion" may be found on the "El Scorcho" single.

Demand for SFTBH

To this day, any and all unreleased SFTBH material remains a collective holy grail for many Weezer fans. Over the years several petitions have been started with the aim of making the band release the lost SFTBH demos much in the same way the SS2K songs were released; the most recent petition was launched by Weezer fans on November 27, 2005, with the goal of reaching one thousand signatures. It reached its goal on March 1st, 2006.

On October 4, 2005 during a Weezer show at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, the band invited a fan up onstage to play the rhythm guitar for "Undone - The Sweater Song". The fan took advantage of this moment to attempt to get the band to play "Blast Off!" by beginning to play the intro to the song and sang the first four lines of the song before Rivers laughed and jokingly pushed him away from the mic. After they finished "Undone", Weezer guitarist Brian Bell and Rivers all laughed at the fan's idea. In early 2006 a low-quality video bootleg of the show began to circulate around various Weezer message boards and included the fan's special performance of "Undone" and Rivers' subsequent reaction.

Fan covers

Once Rivers posted the lyrics and music for some of the SFTBH tracks, fans were able to cover the songs despite not having heard them. Rivers has even posted comments about the covers he has heard: "By the way, I'm very disappointed not to be hearing any women out there singing Maria's parts. What gives?" (on "Who You Callin' Bitch?") and "Good luck figuring out the time changes... No one's gotten it yet. Look at it this way: 3 beats in a 3/4 measure go by in the same amount of time as 2 beats in a 6/4 measure. Also, these last two sawngs (sic) are elided so that the pickup note of "Oh, Jonas" is the last beat of the last bar of "Who You Callin'" (on "Oh Jonas")."

The future

Cuomo has stated on his blog that he is unable to release any of his demos (including Black Hole songs) because of his contractual obligations to Geffen Records. Geffen has the exclusive right to release his music:

"...Someday that may change but it won’t be anytime soon...Until I can figure out a way to compensate Geffen records (and in the case of covers songs, the songwriters) I can’t give away my recordings."

In his blog, Rivers also talked about playing his demos to Jordan Schur, the president of Weezer's label, Geffen Records:

"...when we were starting to work on Make Believe in 2003, I sat down with Jordan and played him hours of my old demos, going all the way back to the beginnings of Weezer. He didn’t think any of them were album-worthy. Neither did I. The one song he thought was good was "Blast Off" but it 'needs a new chorus.' I agreed."

However, Rivers did leave fans with some hope that the songs could eventually be heard:

"Thanks to all who have expressed their interest in my unreleased recordings. I hope that everything of quality is eventually made available."

In a 2006 interview, commenting on speculation that Make Believe would be Weezer's last album, Pat Wilson (the band's drummer) stated that he would be interested in releasing a compilation of "lost" Weezer tracks. This fueled rumours that the band would release previously unheard Black Hole songs or a completely re-worked version of the Songs from the Black Hole concept album in the near future.

Rivers' photo on his MySpace page on December 25, 2005 was an image of the Wonder Twins, "sidekicks to the Super Friends in the Hanna-Barbera animated television series of the same name". Some fans believed that this was a sign that the 2005 holiday treat would be a high quality mp3 of "Superfriend" but this was later proved to be false.

On April 30, 2006, Rivers released this statement in his blog, and in the process confirmed that the home recordings of the Black Hole songs will be released sometime in the future:

"Thanks for your interest in these songs! I'm putting up the lyrics now because I suddenly realized that I can. I'll also put up the sheet music (when I have time) so that you can play them for each other! I'll release my home demos as soon as I am legally able."

It is unclear however if the recent online petition which garnered over 1000 signatures has influenced his decision.

On October 15, 2007 Rivers posted a blog on his official blog stating that he had permission from Geffen to release a collection of demos spanning 1992-2007, Alone: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo. Shortly after, in an interview with Rolling Stone, Rivers revealed that many of the songs on the CD will be unreleased demos from Songs From The Black Hole. A news post on Geffen's official website read, "The vast majority will be new to even the most die-hard Weezer fan," hinting that the SFTBH demos will be songs previously never heard.[11] In an Alternative Press interview from October 30, 2007, Rivers revealed that "Blast Off!", "Who You Calling Bitch?", "Dude, We're Finally Landing" and "Superfriend" are slated to be on the album. It has been reported that "Longtime Sunshine" will also be on the record. A clip of this song was posted on weezer.com on November 27, 2007, along with clips of "Superfriend" and "Blast Off!", confirming that it will also be on Alone.

On November 22, 2007, Rivers updated his blog, stating "I want to share with everyone the excitement I felt when I went back and heard the original master tapes of these demos. In most cases, they sounded much better than the mp3s I've been listening to for years--clearer, warmer, deeper. I highly recommend that listeners buy the CD rather than the digital version so that they can enjoy the highest quality listening experience."

Slowly, Cuomo has been releasing the album on his demo albums. Still, there are parts of the album fans have not heard. At one point, Cuomo even considered releasing the album in its demo entirety, but instead chose to include a collection of demos: this evolved into the album Alone.

Possible connection to The Rentals

When Cuomo was asked on a chat room interview what the reason was for not releasing Songs From the Black Hole, he simply stated "ROTR". He was referring to original Weezer bassist Matt Sharp's then new band The Rentals, whose first album was titled Return of the Rentals. This album was released in 1995, in between Weezer's first two albums.

Cuomo has further hinted that sonically and aesthetically, Return of the Rentals borrowed much of its style and sound from Cuomo's drafts of SFTBH songs. This includes ample usage of analog synths and heavy, distorted power chords, prominent female lead and backing vocals, and science fiction lyrics. These events are thought to have discouraged Rivers from further pursuing the sound out of fear of the public thinking he was "stealing" Matt's sound with The Rentals.

Karl Koch, however, has dismissed these rumors. However, some fans still believe there may be a connection.

Lyrics

A Sharp-penned song entitled "Mrs.Young" was demoed in May of 1993. Sharp wrote the core of the song but asked Cuomo for assistance on filling in details of the song and the performance on the demo.

This song was later reworked into "Please Let That Be You", which appeared on Return of The Rentals. Some portions of the lyrics may have themes that could be linked to the space theme of Songs From the Black Hole:

Lost out in the machinery
[...]
Walk around the complex
No visitors, no oxygen
Just me, no movement
[...]
Empty, everything's technical, sterile, and endless
Inside, a malfunction
— "Please Let That Be You", by The Rentals

Also, "The Love I'm Searching For" contains lyrics that could have fit in to the original theme of the project:


The love I'm searching for in this machine
The systems failed, all the circuits blown
and the message lost in this machine

Tried all the codes, all possibilities
all combinations, but still nothing
Called for backup from my assistants
but no one seems to know anything
Disconnect, shut the main reactor down
and separate from this technology
— "The Love I'm Searching For", by The Rentals

Furthermore, an early version of "The Love I'm Searching For" can be found on The Rentals' bootleg Excellent Stocking Stuffer. In this earlier take, the lyric "you should be with me" is revealed to have originally been "the mission must be complete." This ties into SFTBH in that several songs from the known track lists also mention a mission. For instance, in "Blast Off", there are lyrics referring to 'the purpose of the mission'.

“I try/You know I try/I try/As hard as it may be the mission must be complete.”
— "The Love I'm Searching For" (early version), by the Rentals

In another interesting turn of events, when The Rentals reunited in 2005 and began touring, the band would cover Weezer's "I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams", a song originally intended for Songs from the Black Hole. Rachel Haden, who performs vocals on the Weezer version, handled lead vocal duties when played live with The Rentals, as she was then a part of the newly formed incarnation of the Rentals.

It is presently unknown if there is any truth to these theories or if they are simply speculation on the part of fans.

See also

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