The Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon can’t get down with Weezer’s “Hash Pipe”
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In HateSong, we ask our favorite musicians, writers, comedians, actors, and so forth to expound on the one song they hate most in the world.
The hater: Brian Fallon is a Jersey boy through and through. As the frontman of the Garden State-based band The Gaslight Anthem, Fallon is known for writing odes to his hometown landmarks, as well as classic cars, dancing, and girls named Maria. Since it’s pretty clear what he likes songs to be about, The A.V. Club decided to ask him what song really gets under his skin before he takes off on tour later this week.
The hated: Weezer’s “Hash Pipe” (2001)
The A.V. Club: Of all the songs you could’ve picked, why “Hash Pipe?”
Brian Fallon: It was a ginormous disappointment for me. I don’t really hate a lot of songs, but I think Weezer has put out some songs I really hate because they’ve also put out a lot of songs I really like. And I think that when you have songs that people are really attached to and associate with a pinnacle point of their development, musically, they expect that band to retain such integrity. And they have, sometimes. Sometimes. There are some new songs I like, but that song in particular, I can’t deal with.
AVC: Are you a Weezer fan otherwise?
BF: I really like them, actually, and that’s probably why I hate this song so much.
AVC: Weezer hadn’t put out an album in five years prior to this. “Hash Pipe” was the first taste fans got of the band’s much-anticipated The Green Album. Was your disappointment magnified by the fact that The Green Album was so hyped?
BF: Yeah, I think so for sure, because there are even songs on The Green Album that I really like, and there are some that are—I wouldn’t say my favorite, but there are some that are close to what I would think are definitive Weezer songs. But this particular one came out, and the difference between the blue record and Pinkerton and everything they put out after that… it was just a cutoff line. It was like a line in the sand. And I’ve heard so many mysterious stories about what had happened—that Rivers [Cuomo] had gotten pissed off because he wrote Pinkerton and he thought it was his best effort and people didn’t like it, or at least the press didn’t like it, and he got pissed at that. I’m not sure if that’s true, though.
So I don’t know. Maybe it was a reaction to something? But I have no idea why they would put it out. And first? I just don’t get it. I don’t get it at all. And I think it kind of showed the fact that there was a certain sense of apathy going on in that song, and that pisses me off. Any kind of apathy in a songwriter pisses me off.
AVC: Cuomo once said that to write this song, he took one Ritalin, three shots of tequila, sat in a chair in his backyard, and closed his eyes until he imagined the song.
BF: Yeah, he should not do that ever again.
AVC: Apparently the song was inspired by a male transvestite prostitute known for going around Santa Monica, rambling to strangers.
BF: I had no idea about that, but that’s amazing.
AVC: The album didn’t come with a lyric sheet, and some fans have disputed whether the line is “I’ve my got eyes wide,” “ass wide,” or “ass wipe.” What do you think?
BF: I’m 100 percent sure he’s saying, “I’ve got my eyes wide.” Because why would a human being go on record that will live in infamy forever and say, “I’ve got my ass wide?” I can’t even consider the possibility that that’s it. Because I will hate the song so much more if that is the lyric. Like, I won’t listen to Weezer anymore if that’s the lyric.
AVC: The fans may actually be making the song worse than it already is.
BF: Because it’s so bad! It’s not a good song. Like, there’s that song—see, I don’t even know what the titles are anymore, but I think it’s called “Slob,” that’s on that record. You know, I love that song. I think that song’s great. But then there’s this thing. I mean granted, everyone writes songs that are not good. But I think this was on-purpose not-good.
AVC: “Slob” was on Maladroit, which was after The Green Album.
BF: You know what? I don’t even care to check. That’s how much I care.
AVC: There’s been a lot of questionable Weezer material since “Hash Pipe”: “Beverly Hills,” “Pork And Beans”—
BF: Yeah, but hold on a second, though. Hold on with the “Beverly Hills” thing. That’s not that bad. It’s a commentary on Beverly Hills. Like, at least that’s funny.
AVC: It seems like a real attempt at a commercial song that could get played a lot in California at Dodgers games and things like that.
BF: But didn’t he say that? Didn’t he just say, “I’m going to write pop music no one cares about anymore?”
AVC: So you think it was just an intentional cash cow for him, then?
BF: No, I think he just threw it out there out of spite. Like, “You guys want me to just write catchy pop songs? Here, have this. Whatever. I don’t even care.”
AVC: This song was a nominee for High Times’ “Pot Song Of The Year” in 2001.
BF: Oh, great! That’s great news!
AVC: In the censored version of this song that’s on the radio sometimes, it’s changed to “Half Pipe.”
BF: “I’ve got my half pipe,” because he’s about 45. Yeah, I don’t think so. That doesn’t work. You know what, though? If that was the original lyric, I wouldn’t have been mad. I would’ve been like, “All right, maybe he’s just really cool and likes skating. That’s cool. I can dig it.”
AVC: So if it was “Half Pipe,” we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now?
BF: Maybe not. But I think if it was like, “I’ve got my high fives,” I wouldn’t have liked that.
AVC: Best for Rivers to just stick to songs about Asian girls?
BF: Yeah, or surfing. I think that’s a good one. You know, “You take your car to work, I’ll take my board.” It’s a great compromise. I think that’s good.