The Greatest Song Ever
OK, forgive the hyperbole.
It's not the greatest song ever written; it's simply my favorite of the moment. The song in question is "The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)" from Weezer's latest eponymous record (known affectionately as The Red Album). And it's the undisputed heavyweight champion of my summer playlist.
Now I'm not claiming that Weezer have achieved the pinnacle of songwriting, or that the song is even quasi-intellectual... in fact, since their inception, Weezer have succeeded in producing some of the smartest dumb rock music of the last 15 or so years (Rivers Cuomo, the lead singer and chief songwriter, is a Harvard grad, mind you). It's not brainless dreck, mind you – the album was produced by Rick Rubin (the guy who discovered the Beastie Boys, helped an all-but-dead Johnny Cash find his voice, and created the Red Hot Chili Peppers' masterpiece Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic).
The song is six minutes of pure, unadulterated fun. Like the subtitle suggests, it's all based on the melody of the old Shaker hymn that starts the song. From there, it explores hip-hop, pop, battle march, heavy metal, Gregorian chant, spoken word, punk and Queen-style bombast. It's a mini rock opera in the theme of The Who's Tommy and Green Day's American Idiot, compressed down into a taut five minutes and fifty-two seconds. Good luck trying to cram those disparate styles into a whole record, let alone one song.
Weezer's brand of nerd-core is the perfect summer album. With the Greatest Song of the Summer. If you're a fan of ridiculous, over-top-braggadocio (sample lyric: "After the havoc that I'm gonna wreak / No more words will critics have to speak), you won't want to miss this song. It may change your life. As Weezer say, "I am the greatest man that ever lived / I was born to give."
So give I do. Enjoy.