On September 10, 2007, Jermaine Dupri sent me a demo of a song he had started writing. “Can’t Stop Partying” (Track 13). He also sent me his number to discuss where we could take the song. I gave him a call. He told me that he had noticed that the rock world and the hip-hop world were really the same: they were both all about partying. He wanted to write a song-and to find an artist to cover that song-to show the unity between these two apparently disparate worlds. He thought Weezer was the perfect artist.
I thought about it long and hard. I had been a great admirer of Jermaine’s songs, especially Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together”, which had been a big influence on my recent composition, “Heartsongs”. And I loved the demo he sent me of “Can’t Stop Partyin”. It was so fun and catchy.
I can’t stop partying, paryting
I gotta have Patron, I gotta have the E
I gotta have a lotta pretty girls aound me
I can’t stop partying, partying
I gotta have the cars, I gotta have the jewels
And if you was me honey you would do it too
Monday to Sunday I hit all the clubs
And everybody know me when I pull up
I got the real big posse wit me, yeah I’m ?
And if u lookin for me I’m in vip
Just follow the smoke; they’re bringing bottles of the goose
And all the girls in the corner getting loose
Screw rehab I love my addiction
No sleep no sleep I am always on a mission
But the music sounded a little cheesy to me, like generic punk rock. And worst of all, the lyrics were clearly a celebration of drinking and drug-taking, which I could not sing without qualms. I tried to expand the lyrics to make them more in line with my values. That’s when I realized what a true genius Jermaine is. His lyrics had seemed so simple to me, as if any seventh-grader could have written them, but when I tried to write a second verse, I couldn’t manage to write anything one-tenth as good as his first verse! His lyrics were all about celebration. They were totally inclusive. My lyrics couldn’t indicate confidence or joy without being at the expense of someone else. Every line of Jermaine’s was so strong, so iconic, like a song title. My lyrics were awkward and strained. I set the song aside. In October, in another Vipassana course, it suddenly occurred to me that I could change the meaning of the song, not by changing the lyrics, but by changing the music under the lyrics. When I got to my wife’s family house in Japan after the course. I picked up a guitar and strummed the four chords that you hear on my demo of the song. These chords suggested sadness and resignation in the face of something ineluctable, something fated, a drug-habit, a drinking addiction. Suddenly, “I Can’t Stop Partying” might be a sad thing to say, and this was the undertone which I believed allowed me to sing the song with conviction. Was it a celebration? Or an elegy for one lost? I didn’t know. But I thought it was beautiful. And that’s all I’ve ever really cared about as a writer. The happiness of the creative moment. It has always been mine.