Wave
By: Beck Hansen

Written by: Beck Hansen

Versions:
  1. Wave (3:45)
    Available on Morning Phase.
    Credits
    David Stone: Bass
    Rudy Stein: Cello
    Stefanie Fife: Cello
    Steve Richards: Cello
    David Campbell: Conductor
    Ben Baptie: Mix
    Tom Elmhirst: Mix
    Beck Hansen: Producer, Vocals
    Andrew Duckles: Viola
    Denyse Buffum: Viola
    Matt Funes: Viola
    Alyssa Park: Violin
    Charlie Bisharat: Violin
    Gerry Hilera: Violin
    Joel Derouin: Violin
    Josefina Vergara: Violin
    Julian Hallmark: Violin
    Mario De Leon: Violin
    Natalie Leggett: Violin
    Razdan Kuyumijian: Violin
    Teresa Stanislav: Violin
 
Lyrics:
Wave [Version (a)]:

I move away from this place
In the form of a disturbance
And enter into the world
Like some tiny distortion

(Wave)

If I surrender
And I don't fight this wave
I won't go under
I'll only get carried away

Wave
Wave

Isolation
Isolation
Isolation
Isolation
 
The Song:

"Wave" can be found on Morning Phase. It is an atypical sort of song for Beck, which consists entirely of his voice over an orchestra.

Prior to the album coming out, Beck was asked about "Wave." Beck noted that it was one of the older songs on the album. But at the same time, it sounded like he didn't have a full grasp on the track: "I don't know if I have any perspective on it other than: I sat down to write, and that came out... I just have to accept that is what came out, and it represents something."

That said, he did agree with the interviewer that it might be tied to a period of bleak injury that Beck experienced. But less a song about injury, the song is more about "when will this end?" The "isolation" one experiences while feeling hopeless, the literal or figurative pain hitting you like a wave.

Musically, I enjoy how the orchestra matches Beck's vocals. Not literally, but they juxtapose quite beautifully. The orchestra ebbs and flows, like a wave. Beck's vocals are less subtle in their swells, but his voice jumps up and down, matching the ocean of strings beneath. Together, they create such wonderful depth.
 
Live:

Played live 50 times:
Earliest known live version: November 24, 2013
Latest known live version: September 8, 2017

2013/2014 live strings

"Wave" made it's live premiere in 2013, at Beck's Orchestral Song Reader show in November 2013. Morning Phase and its songs had been announced at the time, but not yet heard by anyone else. Since the show was done with the LA Philharmonic, Beck took the opportunity to play "Wave" with a full orchestra. And it was stunning.

A few months later, Beck performed "Wave" on Saturday Night Live, as promotion for Morning Phase. He did not use a full orchestra like in November, but there was a smaller string section with him. (Also Justin added some synthesizer, and a couple of his band sang backup.)

2014 band versions
On the first two shows of the actual Morning Phase tour, Beck performed "Wave." No string section on tour, his band recreated it expertly with mainly synthesizers and Smokey Hormel playing his electric guitar with a violin bow. It was quite impressive! Despite that, the song was then dropped for 15 shows.

When the song returned later on the tour, the song sounded quite similar--Gus plays cello, and Smokey seems to have switched from violin bow to an ebow for his electric guitar. Roger and Justin add synthesizer, Jason and Joey sit out for the song. From then on, Beck played "Wave" -- to usually rousing reception -- for more or less the rest of the tour.

It will be very interesting to see if "Wave" continues in future sets, and how they perform it.