Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Key Horse on the Highway

Trying to explain to someone why Ween is great is probably an exercise in futility. It's like trying to tell why a joke works or analyzing why a Zen kōan makes perfect sense. They're geniuses at making songs that give you the precise feeling of hearing a song stoned, that special frisson of laughter and epiphany. Their latest record, La Cucaracha, is a catalog of brilliant cosmic weirdness, from Tijuana Brass trumpet music to mystical psych-rock to a reggae dub song about a "Black Man" and a "Chinaman" fighting over whether some fish is fresh or frozen ("The Fruit Man"). As usual, they're not just politically incorrect, they're politically incoherent, like life itself. They sort of make irrelevant Sacha Frere-Jones' fretful article on why white rock groups don't borrow from black music anymore. They exploit everybody and anybody, shamelessly and without heed. The only way to get to the marrow of great music, they seem to have realized, is to explicitly do it in character and then take it way too far.

Like I said, futile.

Anyway, I just had to shake my head listening to "Learnin to Love," a Dada take on Roger Miller that romps along until it descends into an oddly inevitable Broadway/prog breakdown with brittle White Man harmonies. The lyrics are cutup racetrack slang like something from Basement Tapes-era Bob Dylan. It's amazing, funny and perfect.

"Learnin to Love" - Ween

"The Fruit Man" - Ween

1 comment:

Happy In Bag said...

What a great analysis of Ween! I finally "get" it.

Now, could you do me a favor and explain Paul Weller's solo career to me?