Beck has soul. The guy who sang about Sexx Laws and wrote lyrics about cheese whiz has soul. And I don't need to post something off the self-wallowing Sea Change to prove it, because "Lord Only Knows" is clear as day on that fact.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Beck - Lord Only Knows
I was going to post some sort of obscure, b-side because I've been flipping through Mr. Hansen's albums for a couple days now in between spins of the latest albums from The Arcade Fire and Jaill (both of which are completely effing stellar, but I digress). Frankly, I don't think it's necessary. Check this out.
On "Lord Only Knows," Beck is getting by. Scraping his way from hipster noise-maker loved by Thurston Moore for the obtuse-Dylanesque lyrical bender and thorough appreciation of feedback to the perfect lifestyle mash-up of the Dust Brothers. Yes, it's a long way from Mellow Gold to Odelay. But the later it gets, the better Beck gets. Because that DJ behind him is getting wasted, and the singer is still sober.
"So I'm picking up the pieces, and I'm putting them up for sale. Throw your meal ticket out the window, and put your skeletons in jail," he sings on the first verse of the song. Check yourself out, and throw caution to the wind. Stop being careful. Look where it got our rosey-cheeked Scientologist, for Christ's simple sake.
Beck always had the funk, he just heard it in his head and then imitated those sounds with whatever he had around him. The Dust Brothers helped him bring that stuff to life so that people who weren't stoned out of their gourd could experience the same thing.
As time goes on, I'm increasingly convinced that Beck Hansen is one of the truest artists to hit popular music since fat cats in fancy suits in front of coke-covered mirrors during the Reagan years started ruining the music industry. Hansen spent the last year covering some great albums with a host of really interesting musicians, recorded with all sorts of other artists and just sort of explored whatever the hell it is he wants to do.
Really, he's done whatever he wanted a long time. Nobody has questioned him as he made all sorts of records, with all sorts of people, and tried all sorts of things. Maybe they stupidly weren't paying attention, missing out on a guy who exists completely outside of all the hip, hip, hip shit we all freak out over.
All along, for as much as I have enjoyed every single one of his albums, and I really have - Midnight Vultures and The Information may be two of the most underrated albums of the last decade - "Lord Only Knows" has remained one of my favorite songs by this weirdo. Over and over, I can let it play, and it just continues to resonate. It's probably one of my favorite songs, period.
I was going to give you "Clock," or "Halo of Gold," or the mind-blowing mash-up of Michael and Janet's "Scream" with Beck's "E-Pro." Hell, I almost caved to "Pay No Mind (Snoozer)." Instead, I went with the obvious song that, fifteen years later, still stomps a mudhole in my soul, because it is that god damn good.
"I'm going back to Houston, to do the hot dog dance... I'm going back to Houston, gonna get me some pants..."
Yeah, that's what I'm talking about.