You know how the biggest critical knock against the Coen Brothers (who are quite possibly my favorite filmmakers currently going) is that their films are often too technically accomplished for people to connect with emotionally? That’s kinda like how I feel about the music of Beck Hansen.
Which isn’t to say that I haven’t gone out and found – and usually appreciated – every Beck album since Mellow Gold, it’s just that I’ve found very few songs in all those years to fall in love it.
For the record, I have no doubt that Odelay is a masterpiece – it topped my year-end list for 1996, and has definitely held up over time – but I sure don’t listen to it all that much anymore.
But this song – based around a sample of Van Morrison-approved keyboard part in Them’s cover of “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” – transcends all of my objections because it’s so damn purty. Not to mention, lyrics that presaged his more “confessional” records:
I been drifiting along
In the same stale shoes
Loose ends tying a noose
In the back of my mind
If you thought that you were making your way
To where the puzzles and pagans lay
I’ll put it together:
It’s a strange invitation.
As far as “New Dylans” go (and Beck may have been one of the last of those), pretty damn great words.
But in a weird way, outside of Odelay, I don’t think that Beck has ended up having the career that we all expected, even though he’s never been less than interesting, but never really more, either.
Beck performing “Jack-Ass” on The Late Show With David Letterman, 1996.
My Certain Songs Playlist on Spotify