It’s hard enough writing a “Top Ten Songs” list for normal bands, popular bands like Zeppelin or Pearl Jam or The Band, but it’s damn near fucking impossible to come up with one for a “cult” band like Ween. (NOTE: I hate the term cult band, but after much deliberation, how the hell else are you supposed to describe a band that has thrived for years without mainstream success? You can call them “underground” but that sounds gayer than “cult”. Maybe the term just needs an update. Any ideas?) Anyway, Ween is one of my favorite bands so I decided to take Associated Content up on their “Top Ten Songs” offer and write this thing. I also realize, however, that if the omnificent Ween Forum ever catches wind of this article, it will most likely be skewered unmercifully. Oh well, here goesÃ¢Â?Â¦
10. (TIE) “Roses are Free” & “Push Th’ Little Daisies”
Because they’re both about flowers. Get it? No seriously, other than the herbaceous quality of these songs’ titles, they share a lot in terms of a sonic, popular relevance that gets lost when most people try to define Ween’s music. “Roses” is often maligned because the hippie, jam outfit Phish started covering it circa 1996. I always thought that was a shame because it’s an awesome tune, regardless of how many fake hippie fans jumped on the Weenwagon after Phish introduced them to it. “Push Th’ Little Daisies” is perhaps slightly less poppy, but only because lead singer Gene Ween sounds like a post op transvestite strapped to an electric chair. Also, this song gets a shout out in Marilyn Manson’s book. And if you’ve ever wondered what the perfect background music for doing coke and talking about giving a dude a blowjob is it’s “Push Th’ Little Daisies” by Ween.
I felt obligated to include something off of Ween’s most recent studio effort. I’m not sure why this is? It’s not like they don’t have enough songs. In fact, it would probably be hard enough to make a Top Ten Songs by Ween from ‘God Ween Satan’ list. Anyway, I threw “Zoloft” on this list, not because it’s even my favorite song of the Quebec album, but because it sums up what made Quebec such a great albumÃ¢Â?Â¦ a nice blend of old and new Ween (“Happy Colored Marbles” was a close second). My brother, who’s only a casual Ween fan, likes to play this song in the morning after nights of heavy drinking. “It makes me feel drunk again and less hung-over,” he said. I think that sums it up.
This choice is meant to symbolize all the so-called live favorites. Until recently, this song had only existed in the live format (it was included on the outtakes disc “Shinola vol. 1”). In a way, I think it kind of encapsulates what it’s like to see Ween live. Gener sings it likes he’s retarded and if you don’t “get it”, I’m sure it’s fairly excruciating to sit through. On the surface, Ween comes off as a lesson in attrition, a crÃ?Â¨me brule of madness if you will. They’re shit is so weird and grizzled when you first hear it, but underneath it’s really sweet and melodic, sometimes (like in the case of “Someday”).
7. “Buckingham Green”
Sticking with the live theme, this tune might be my all time favorite show opener. It’s way-anthematic. It is also the first of two songs from ‘The Mollusk’ that cracked this list. I never thought a song with synth-strings could be so awesome, and that is why I love Ween.
6. “The Stallion (pt. 3)”
I wrestled with the idea of including the entire “Stallion” quintology (or is pentalogy), as heard on ‘All Request Live’, but I think this one works best by itself. If there’s one singular tune that captures Ween’s sound, I would say its “The Stallion (pt.3)”. From the lyrics to the vocal effects to the guitar tone to the “Yo, Dude” part, I think this just may be the most prototypical Ween song. Am I an overanalyzing asshole? Yes.
5. “Piss Up a Rope”
In case I didn’t mention it before, coming up with a list like this is hard, and I’m doing the best that I can. In a way, “Piss Up a Rope” is the antithesis to a song like “The Stallion” because A) they opt for comedic lyrics over bizarre ones, B) they trade in lo-fi, drum machine oriented production for studio players and a glossy sheen, and C) they follow a normal song structured around country and pop instead of, well, whatever else they were doing. Now, I’m not saying I prefer one to the other. In fact, I’m saying exactly the opposite. I think this is probably why I love Ween. The unpredictability of their songs makes it fun to be a fan. Take ‘Quebec’ for instance; what other band can could pull off “So Many People in the Neighborhood” and “If You Could Save Yourself” on the same record. Sometimes I’ll listen to a Ween album and say, “Why isn’t this song on the radio?” but then I hit the next track and say, “Oh, this is why.” Pop music fears groups like Ween because they’re devoid of any sense of formula, but in a way that is their formula. That’s what makes them Ween. Plus, who doesn’t love a song with the lyrics, “on your knees, you big booty bitch, start sucking”?
4.(TIE) “Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down)” & “The HIV Song”
‘Chocolate & Cheese’, released in 1994, quickly became Ween’s best selling album; partly due to a huge media blitz from their then-label Elektra and partly due to catchy, if not completely accessible songs like “What Deaner Was Talking About”, “Roses Are Free”, “Voodoo Lady” and “Take Me Away”. But what makes this record a classic is not its pop and rock gems, but its ultra Weenish cuts like “The HIV Song” and “Spinal Meningitis” (both of which are even better live). Take a song like “Spinal Meningitis”. As a kind of litmus test to get into the heads of any prospective girlfriends, I always play them this tune. (NOTE: If you’re not familiar with this one just know that includes a creepy vocal effect that sounds like a tortured child and lyrics like, “why you wanna touch my spine, mommy?”) If a girl really digs it then we probably have too much in. If she’s totally disgusted and scared by it then she’s probably too lame for my tastes. If she can make it through the whole track without either wincing or freaking out and she can shrug it off with one those “that’s what you really listen to” looks, then I know we have a chance.
3. “Sorry Charlie”
I’ve included “Sorry Charlie” for several reasons. First off, I truly love this song, especially live versions. The lyrics makes sense to me in a way that no other Ween lyrics do, and it’s rolling, country vibe makes it sound almost like a cover song (but in a good way). I also wanted to include something off of ‘The Pod’ album. Is there another album that Ween can pluck any song from that just totally takes a show over the top? “She Fucks Me”, “Winkle”, “Demon Sweat”, “Pork Roll Egg and Cheese”, “Awesome Sound”, “Frank”, “Don’t Sweat It”. Seriously, any of these could have made the list.
2. “The Mollusk”
Is there a better moment in the history of music then the two-minute mark in this song? Probably, but I love that part. The Andrew Weiss production on this record is perhaps the greatest of Ween’s career. The layers of sound are crazy good. Whereas before they had a sound, on the “The Mollusk” they created a sound; call it post-punk for degenerates with drum machines and synthesizers. Actually, don’t call it that.
1.”You Fucked Up”
This song just feels right at No.1. I try and tell my friends that, at heart, Ween is basically just a punk band, but nobody seems to believe me. They hear what they hear and they fail to realize that being a punk band doesn’t mean you have to sound distinctively like Black Flag or [Insert your definition of a punk band here]. “You Fucked Up” became THAT song for Ween. That old song that everybody loves, so the band plays it all the time because they obviously love it too and it never really gets stale. I got stomped in a mosh pit during a concert in Philadelphia and broke my foot to this song. Sure, I was wearing sandals (like an idiot), but once you’re foot breaks during a particular song, and specifically because of that song’s hardness, it kind of vaults it to another level. You know what I mean?