Hot off their debut record, popularly known as The Blue Album, Weezer began work on their sophomore album at the tail end of 1994. To many fans, Weezer’s 1996 classic, Pinkerton, is seen as one of the most important emo and alternative rock albums of all-time. While a major departure from the fun, nerdy power pop, of their first album, in many ways, Pinkerton was the band’s version of playing it safe. Weezer’s abandoned sophomore album, Songs from the Black Hole, was perhaps a greater risk than Pinkerton, and we may never know what it could have been.
Songs from the Black Hole was written as a follow-up to the band’s debut. An ambitious rock opera, the album would have followed six characters: Jonas (Rivers Cuomo), Wuan (Brian Bell), Dondó (Matt Sharp), Laurel (Rachel Haden, that dog.), Maria (Joan Wasser, The Dambuilders), and a robot M1 (Karl Koch). The record would tell the story of the group’s mission to, in Cuomo’s words, “rescue somebody, or something,” their journey serving as an allegory for Weezer’s rise to rock stardom following The Blue Album. The way Cuomo designed it, each song would flow seamlessly into the next, Dark Side of the Moon-style. He recorded most of the album’s demos of the course of 1994 and 1995 in his Connecticut home.
As Cuomo continued to write, his focus shifted away from the space-themed rock opera. In part due to his time at Harvard, Cuomo’s songs became grittier and more personal in nature, laying the groundwork for what soon became Pinkerton. Four songs from SFTBH found their way onto that record, and a few others were B-sides to singles from the album. Other demos from the project were featured on Cuomo’s compilation series, Alone, as well as the deluxe edition of Pinkerton. While its legacy lived on, Songs from the Black Hole was soon an album lost in the abyss.
The project may not have fully matriculated, but Songs from the Black Hole has cemented itself as an integral part of Weezer fan culture. In 2011, a collection of Cuomo’s Pinkerton-era writings, entitled The Pinkerton Diaries, was released. The book included previously unreleased SFTBH-era lyrics and sheet music, which soon became the basis of Operation Space Opera, a fan produced “recreation, recorded from scratch,”of the album that never was. While it is in no way official, it is perhaps the closest we may get to a complete version of this lost album.
Judging by the extent of its demos, Songs from the Black Hole was in its early stages when it was abandoned in 1995. The songs, halfway between The Blue Album and Pinkerton, were raw demos that were slowly coming together. Since it never came to fruition, only three “official” copies of the record exist (albeit on CD-R), but these copies have never been formally released. While Songs from the Black Hole was nothing more than an intriguing concept and a few demos, its remains a mystery to Weezer fans everywhere, who wonder what could have been had it seen the light of day. But for now, Songs from the Black Hole is in the black hole of lost rock albums.