Ween 12 Golden Country Greats

So Long Jerry by Ween: Great B-Sides

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.

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  1. Apparently this does happen sometimes- the original track list on the album jacket for “London Calling” did not include “ Train in Vain” . The song was added in the final moments before the vinyl was pressed.
    Later on it was added in subsequent printings.

  2. Holy cow, I love these tunes, especially the beautiful and heartfelt tribute to Jerry Garcia – so much better than the cheesy album cover!
    I had never heard of Ween before and really like their warm sound. Thanks for featuring them, Graham!

    • They don’t normally sound like that 1 they play a lot of different stuff. Lots of parodies (that are still good songs) – they do songs that are obviously inspired by specific artists like Jimmy Buffett, Steely Dan, and Motörhead.

  3. This is awesome. So Long Jerry reminds me of the Flying Burrito Brothers a little. I’ll have to hunt out the funny ones. I like both of these…and love the artwork…they even got the Batman building.

    • Apparently some of the Nashville guys refused to play with them because their material was a bit crass – Piss Up A Rope is the most memorable, but not very polite.

      • I can believe that. I’ve met a few of them that would go to my guitar tech. The older ones are hard core country and serious. One of them played with Dylan and Dylan was a challenge to them.
        Piss Up A Rope…that is the first one I looked up last night after I commented…it has a great sound.

  4. Great stuff. Ween are a strange band – some genuinely brilliant stuff among their comedy. The run from The Mollusk to Whit Pepper is probably their peak and these tunes fit nicely among the output of that period if not quite suited to the album they were intended for. That make sense?

      • I felt Quebec was a bit patchy, but maybe I’ll have to revisit that one. So Long Jerry would actually sound quite at home on White Pepper, yeah – that’s a good call.

          • I’d agree with that assessment of White Pepper – feels like they had put the jokes aside and it’s very rewarding as a result. It’s certainly my favourite of their albums…

      • I find many bands label some of their later works “ their best ever” so it sells or – more likely – so they can live in denial about having jumped the shark. but they know in their hearts it’s not the case.
        Who thinks “No line on the Horizon” is U2s best album?? But they declared it when they released it.
        Same with Foo Fighters. Try to listen to any foos stuff from the last ten years. Bet you won’t last 10 minutes.

  5. I’m liking this Aph. I also like when bands mix it up exploring creative ideas. Good stuff. I’ll check out the album. That steel sounds nice. I’ll have to tell a friend of mine. He’s nuts for steel guitar. I see Ben Vaughn produced the record. It’s all starting to make sense.

  6. Ween is one of my favorite bands, and certainly not a novelty act. Their musicianship and knowledge of popular music is second to none – I always assumed the title of 12 Golden Country Greats was meant to be an in-joke, as Dean and Gene would be apt to pull on their fans. As for the music, some of the greatest backup Nashville pros in the business are on that album, which is why it’s such a brilliantly startling contradiction to hear such obscenely hilarious lyrics – in any case, an absolute classic. My favorite Ween album, however, is The Mollusk, where Dean and Gene create such a convincing interpretation of my favorite genres, progressive rock and album rock, that the satire almost falls through the cracks.

    • Ween are my favourite band. And life savers. I love when non Ween fans try to understand them. All you need to know is that they don’t care what you think, and they will go in whatever musical direction they want to.
      Their range of styles is unmatched. And to think that they cast off songs as amazing as ‘Does it turn you on.’
      I keep hoping now they are touring they won’t be able to resist writing new stuff together and we’ll get a new studio album.

      • My first Ween album was The Pod, which I rescued out of a sale bin. The early stuff has its moments, but I much prefer the full studio sound of Chocolate and Cheese onwards.

  7. Totally agree. Chocolate and cheese was my introduction to them too. I’ll always love that album.
    The Pod and Pure Guava are the hardest to listen to. But as you say they have lots of gems. Godweensatan is the most accessible of the early albums for me personally.
    What I’ve learnt I’ve the years with Ween is never to throw an album or song out because sometimes it’s taken me years to realise the genius of a song.

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