One of the most misleading album titles in popular music is Ween’s 12 Golden Country Greats. The country part isn’t misleading; Dean and Gene Ween actually recorded an entire album in Nashville with notable musos like Charlie McCoy and Bud Picher. The trick is the number 12 – the album that only contains 10 songs.
The duo later tried to explain the title by pointing out that 12 country musicians appear on the record, which works if you don’t count The Jordanaires. The real reason, however, is that two songs were cut from the album before release – ‘I’ve Got No Darkside’ and ‘So Long Jerry’.
‘So Long Jerry’ was written as a tribute to Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia, who passed away in 1995. On ‘A Tear For Eddie’ on 1994’s Chocolate and Cheese, Ween paid tribute to another recently departed guitarist, Parliament’s Eddie Hazel. Ween are often dismissed as a novelty act, an impression not helped by their best-known song ‘Push Th’ Little Daisies’.But their songs about Jerry and Eddie betray a duo with encyclopedic knowledge of popular music.
With Dean Ween’s guitar virtuosity and Gene Ween’s malleable voice, Ween are able to take on almost any style. Ween also have the songwriting skills to go along with their genre mimicry, making them one of rock’s most underrated bands. On ‘So Long Jerry’ Gene delivers a heartfelt vocal with great lines like “I never knew the man/but he was a good friend of mine.”
‘So Long Jerry’ didn’t belong on 12 Golden Country Greats, even though it fits musically. It’s an ultra-sincere song in an album full of silly country songs like ‘Piss Up A Rope’ and ‘Mister Richard Smoker’. The album’s other b-side, ‘I’ve Got No Darkside’, would have been a much better fit.
Ween have a bunch of great unreleased material – some arrived on Shinola, Vol. 1, but there’s still lots of great material stuck in the archive or stranded on b-sides.