View Full Version : Rivers' End: The Director's Cut

05-09-2006, 12:22 AM

CRIMSON/ JEREMY S. SINGER-VINE (http://www.thecrimson.com/writer.aspx?id=1202236)

read the rest of it here
http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=513085 (http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=513085)

The Harvard Crimson: When have you been at Harvard, exactly?

Rivers Cuomo: I transferred in as a second-semester sophomore in the fall of ’95.

THC: And you were there for the semester after that, the spring semester of ’96?

RC: Yeah.

THC: Were you there for fall semester of ’96?

RC: No. “Pinkerton” came out on September 24th, and we toured that fall. And then I came back at the end of January.

THC: Okay, and you were there for that semester.

RC: Yeah.

THC: Okay, and then in fall of ’97, you came back to Cambridge, but you didn’t attend?

RC: Right. I backed out at the last second.

THC: So that was it for a while, and then you came back in Fall of 2004?

RC: Right.

THC: What do you think your favorite course has been, since you’ve been here?

RC: So many. Music 51 immediately comes to mind, with John Stewart.

THC: Why?

RC: I feel like I got a lot out of that class that is gonna stick with me for the rest of my life, just because he stresses learning through experience so much. Everything we learned, we learned on the keyboard and we practiced over and over. So, all those little chord progressions and voice leadings—they’re in my bones, as well as my ear. So, I just feel that I got a tremendous amount out of that class.

THC: Do you think a lot of that went into specific aspects of your music that weren’t there on the Blue Album?

RC: Well, I think one thing I got out of the class, one specific thing, was maybe an even greater attention to counterpoint, which is having one melody move in a different direction and a different way than another melody. And in pop or rock music, that’s expressed mostly in the contrast between the vocal melody and then the bassline or the chord progression. A lot of rock music doesn’t pay much attention to that—a lot of times, the guitar line and the vocal line move together But some rock musicians—myself, included—really try to have there be a counterpoint there. And I was really into that on “Pinkerton”. So, that could be an influence from Music 51.

THC: Are there any professors you’ve had a close relationship with?

RC: Yeah, I had a very close relationship with my Expos teacher, Naomi Steven. We were very close throughout my first year at Harvard, and we’d have lunch all the time and just talk for hours. At that time, I was working on the “Pinkerton” songs a lot, so I feel like she was, in a way, a collaborator and an influence.

THC: Which Expos class was it, out of curiosity?

RC: I think it was just called “The Essay,” Expos 17. Yeah, she was involved in that whole process.

THC: So, would you go to her with lyrics you’d been working on, and she’d critique?

RC: No, it wasn’t like that. It was more like, I would discuss with her the emotional and romantic situations in my life, and we’d also talk about ways to express that in art, and what ways other artists have expressed that. [pause] I can’t be too specific, because it involves other people’s private lives. But one example is, in “Pinkerton”, in “El Scorcho,” two lines in the song are actually taken from someone else’s essay in my Expos class. Because at one point, we had to do a little workshop thing, and we each got assigned to review someone else’s essay. So, I reviewed this one person’s essay, and I liked some of the lines in it, so I took them and used them in the song.

THC: Can you tell us which lines?

RC: Well, if you look at the printed lyrics, two of them have quotes around them, so those are the ones.

THC: Have you told the person?

RC: Oh, yeah.

THC: And they’re cool with that?

RC: Mm-hm. Yeah. They were at the time. There’s actually a whole lot more drama behind the whole thing, but I just can’t get into it.

THC: Behind the whole album, or just that particular song, or the Expos?

RC: All of it.