How Relevant is this Anymore

“…in 1996 I was in my hardcore Romantic phase. I was so in love with Puccini and Tchaikovsky and stuff like that. Very romantic, emotional music. And I got to Harvard wanting to learn how to do that. Of course that music is not only a hundred years old, but it was just completely out of style after the 20th century and everything that happened. So I don’t even know what I was hearing. It was atonal. But several years later I got another music teacher and I was in a different frame of mind and I really came to love some of that 20th century music—Stravinsky and Bartok and even Schoenberg—stuff like that.

“I got this great composition teacher who taught me private lessons from UCLA. Some of the homework assignments he gave me at that time—2004—I integrated into a song on Weezer’s latest album, the Red Album, called The Greatest Man That Ever Lived. At the end of that song—it’s a six-minute song, very epic—and at the end there’s all this vocal counterpoint. He taught me how to do all that. And actually, a lot of it is from a homework assignment he gave me. I was learning how to write three-part vocal counterpoint in the style of 16th century.

“And as soon as the album was finished, I sent it to him. I knew he would be overjoyed to hear his influence on a modern rock record. You know, as a college professor in a somewhat obscure field, you might start to think like how relevant is this anymore. And he probably would have been overjoyed to hear that on a Weezer record. He was such an enthusiastic guy. And I was sad to learn that he passed away before he had a chance to hear that album.”

~ Rivers Cuomo, speaking to Terri Gross on Fresh Air (1.21.09)