Ween: In Memoriam

Categories: Obituaries, Ween

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"There are things in my life that no one can understand except Aaron," Mickey Melchiondo noted of his bandmate Aaron Freeman in 2007, when they—as Dean and Gene Ween—put out their last album, La Cucaracha. "We kind of have a parallel life. We went through everything together: junior high school, being broke, getting evicted, meeting our wives and ex-wives, having kids. We make, penny-for-penny, the same income, because we don't do anything other than the band. He's like my brother. And a lot of getting this record together was getting back to that. But there are other things where I can talk to anyone but Aaron."

Apparently, the same is true of Freeman, who perhaps accidentally announced Ween's breakup in an interview with Rolling Stone. "This is news to me," Melchiondo wrote on Facebook, "all I can say for now, I guess." Perhaps it's all a horrible mistake, something to be talked out as only two old friends can.

But if it's true, it's at least as sad a rock split as Kim and Thurston. Melchiondo and Freeman took their brodom to its fullest creative extension, adopting for all public purposes a joint family. With a name cribbed from the colloquial pre-teen shortening of "wiener," the two spun the giddily obnoxious language of their friendship into Ween's three-decade creative partnership. In Mrs. Slack's middle school typing class, they imagined a personal deity named the Boognish, an illustration of which soon found its way onto the four-track recordings they were producing at an astonishing clip for a pair of goof-offs with a shared obsession for getting fucked up. The first Ween shows took place in local garages for neighborhood kids. It didn't take long for their tapes to reveal a barely concealed vein of raw emotion.

"Jesus Christ, pain, take one," Freeman intones at the beginning of "Birthday Boy," recording over an answering machine message of his mother singing "Happy Birthday" to him earlier that day. The guitar tone is hideous and brown, the painterly adjective the brothers Ween used to describe their best work, and when the first take runs out, it becomes obvious that the tape previously housed some Pink Floyd.


Ween, "Birthday Boy"

One can only imagine the further generation loss "Birthday Boy" underwent as Ween's music disseminated throughout the late '80s indie cassette underground, and—by 1992's Pure Guava—via MTV. More importantly, they developed a genuine cult following, becoming the nearly definitive soundtrack for the subspecies of teenager rock writers once meant by "punk"—obscure, quasi-vile glue-sniffers from the greasier side of the tracks. Differentiating themselves from the sometimes overlapping Deadhead/Phishhead kin with a drug agenda that came not from any cosmic desire to become One, but instead to get swiftly destroyed, Ween's presented a fantasy that was just as much about getting fucked up than it was about literally getting fucked up. Though it was that, too. Within those parameters, and an extraordinarily deep songbook that included at least an alternate album's worth of material for each disc released, Ween bred a fanbase with a nearly three-dimensional appreciation for the band's body of music, something rare and beautiful in any part of the music world.



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11 comments
Pfunk_3000
Pfunk_3000

The best article I've read since the news. And I've read a lot. Nice job. You were definitely a true fan.

Fred
Fred

Huh. I didn't know the village in Village Voice was Name-Drop City? Come back Ween!!

8bitdrummer
8bitdrummer

I have to say, I've never really paid attention to or cared for Ween, which is silly because as a musician who grew up in the 90's, I knew they were very important to music and saw the love in there fans eyes when they would speak about them, but after reading this and watching there purity and all out friendship as well as musicianship, and hearing the Birthday Song which is fucking amazing, I feel as if I need to visit there body of work and soak it in for all it's worth. Music has truly lost something special.

MtMan415
MtMan415

nice read. Ween was the best live act to come out of the US in the last 20+ years, they will be missed. Hopefully once Gener lands on his feet they will do something again.

Its been a great ride with lots of awesome sounds and good times.

Boognish Provides

Rebecca Wilson
Rebecca Wilson

This articulates everything about why Ween's split feels like such a deep wound in my soul. Beautiful writing.

Johnny Deep
Johnny Deep

Fucking beautiful eulogy dude. Hats off.What a band; only Ween could write a whole tune about Taylor Ham sandwiches ("Pork Roll Egg and Cheese". They were the definition of genius.Plus, very, very few guitarists living can melt faces like the Deaner.RIP indeed.Then again, who knows, I wouldnt be suprised if it were all a big elaborate joke...it is Ween we're talking about. And look at all this press!

John Donahue
John Donahue

Thankfully the two released tons of material over the past 25 years and I bet there will be more unreleased stuff coming out. Here's to some reunion shows; thanks for the stellar music Micky and Aaron. 

3MTA3
3MTA3

Nice work.  Thank you.  Now taste the waste.  

Alpine McGregor
Alpine McGregor

Hurtin' over this one. Props on including Kim Smoltz, one of my all time favorite Ween deep cuts.

I miss Ween already
I miss Ween already

"Just like the dancer who has lost her leg, she laughs and moans but then she's crying."

Corcoran1
Corcoran1

Agreed, this is an article written by someone who gets it. Well done. 

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