Forcefield
By: Beck Hansen, Sam Jayne

Written by: Beck Hansen, Sam Jayne

Versions:
  1. Forcefield (3:30)
    Available on One Foot In The Grave.
    Credits
    James Betram: Bass
    Mario Prietto: Bongo
    Beck Hansen: Guitar, Producer, Vocals
    Calvin Johnson: Producer
    Sam Jayne: Vocals
 
Lyrics:
Forcefield [Version (a)]:

Beck's main vocals:

Stand outside with the suitcase
Walk around all the while
Look at the people driving backwards
With no particular style
Don't let it get near you
Don't let it get too close
Don't let it turn you into
The things you hate the most

Roll out your silver dollar coffins
Roll out your buckskin gloves
Tell them anything I want to
The sound comes from above
Don't let it get near you
Don't let it get too close
Don't let it turn you into
The things you hate the most

Don't let it get near you
Don't let it get too close
Don't let it turn you into
The things you hate the most

Lalalalala...
Sam Jayne's backing vocals:

There's a forcefield 'round my neck
And it stands just where I've sat
And the stance I took on that
Leaves a forcefield 'round my neck


And the stance I took on that
Leaves a forcefield 'round my neck








And the stance I took on that
Leaves a forcefield 'round my neck







There's a forcefield 'round my neck
And it stands just where I sit
And the stance I took on that
Leaves a forcefield 'round my neck
There's a forcefield 'round my neck
And it stands just where I sit
And the stance I took on that
Leaves a forcefield 'round my neck
 
The Song:

This calm song is built around a repetitive acoustic guitar lick and numerous vocal melodies all playing off of each other. It is not as complex as it sounds. Beck takes a couple of vocals, while friend Sam Jayne sings the main "forcefield" chorus a few times. It is a popular song, and a video was even made for it, and many years later the song actually returned to the setlist a few times on the Midnite Vultures tour.

Lyrically, it's a bit bizarre. A "forcefield" itself is an intriguing word and image; it feels like it has a lot of meaning, but is hardly specific. There's even a little wordplay in the chorus' "stands / stance" combination. Beck's verses describe chaos ("look at the people driving backwards / in no particular style" and "Don't let it get near you / Don't let it get too close"), which stand in contrast with the numbing effect of the forcefield around your neck.

As Beck said before performing it on October 3, 2000, however, "Forcefield" doesn't really have any stories behind it. They just were in the basement of the studio up in Olympia, Washington and made it up. That spontaneity and freshness is the highlight of the recording (and the whole album, actually).
 
Live:

Played live 18 times:
Earliest known live version: July 2, 2000
Latest known live version: July 14, 2001

For a low-key appearance at the This Ain't No Picnic Festival in July 2000, Beck and band cooked up some reworkings of a few oldies from One Foot in the Grave. They played songs which were popular, but rarely played live (if ever). One of the most successful of the new interpretations was "Forcefield," which then led to its inclusion in some later setlists.

The new arrangement of "Forcefield" is quite interesting. A lengthy acoustic guitar intro leads into Beck's whispery vocals. He sings the "forcefield" chorus first, in place of the "stand outside my suitcase" verse. Then he does the rest of his vocals on the record. Most of the song is just done over his acoustic guitar, but at the end Roger and Justin sing the "don't let it get near you" part as Beck does Sam's "forcefield" chorus. Some percussion joins the song for the end (i.e., shakers), and David Ralicke even adds a few flute licks! Much like the record, it's a very minimalist arrangement.

The September 30 2000, performance of the song is similar to the This Ain't No Picnic one, though a bit dreamier and much shorter. Jon Brion added some atmospheric guitar cries, and the whispering vocals were an eerie touch.

Then again as Beck toured during the summer of 2001, "Forcefield" was played at about half of the shows. The band really focused on quiet, spooky atmospherics, set by electric guitar, purred vocals, and pulsing percussion.