Beercan
By: Beck Hansen, Karl Stephenson

Written by: Beck Hansen, Karl Stephenson

Alternate Titles:

a.k.a. Beer Can

Versions:
  1. Beercan (4:00)
    Available on Mellow Gold and 3 other releases.
    Credits
    Rob Schnapf: Mix
    Tom Rothrock: Mix
    Mike Boito: Organ
    Beck Hansen: Producer, Vocals, Vocals (Background)
    Karl Stephenson: Producer
  2. Beercan (early version)
    Credits
    Mike Boito: Organ
    Beck Hansen: Producer, Vocals, Vocals (Background)
    Karl Stephenson: Producer
Unofficial Versions: [show/hide]
  1. Beercan (Jamesk Remix) (3:20)
    Credits
    Jamesk: Remix
 
 
Lyrics:
Beercan [Version (a)]:

Alcohol on my hands, I got plans to ditch myself and get outside
Dancing women throwing plates, decapitating their laughing dates
Swirling chickens caught in flight, out of focus and much too bright
Coming down, shiny teeth, game show suckers trying to breathe
But I got a drug and I got the bug and I got something better than love
How you like me now? Pretty good
Going on, feeling strong


I quit my job blowing leaves, telephone bills up my sleeves
Choking like a one man dustball, freedom rock slimeball talking in code
We went down, lit up the shack, grabbed me a beer out of the sack
Everybody bent over twice, painting the walls, throwing some dice
Leaping up into the air getting juiced up beyond belief
And they were singin' like this!

Winos throwing frisbees at the sun, burnt my soul between the bun
Now I'm wounded, now I'm drunk, now I'm runnin' like a flaming pig
Oh yeah, scraping off the attitude, old man eating all my food
Don't be kind, don't be rude, just shake your boots and let it all get loose
Oh yeah, my goodness

Fluffy clouds, lovely rainbows
I'm sad, a soft and snuggly place
Fluffy clouds, I'm sad and unhappy
Yppahnu dna das


Winos throwing frisbees at the sun, burnt my soul between the bun
Now I'm wounded, now I'm drunk, now I'm runnin' like a flaming pig
Oh yeah, scraping off the attitude, old man eating all my food
Don't be kind, don't be rude, just shake your boots and let it all get loose

Oh yeah, I like it like that
Oh that is cold
Somebody put a flamethrower on that
Uh-huh, oh my goodness!
Take me down to the depot
Somebody put me down on the bus
Oh yeah, I like it like that
Somebody burn me a plate of sassafrass
Oh yeah...
Beercan (early version) [Version (b)]:

Alcohol on my hands, I got plans to ditch myself and get outside
Dancing women throwing plates, decapitating their laughing dates
Swirling chickens caught in flight, out of focus and much too bright
Coming down, shiny teeth, game show suckers trying to breathe
But I got a drug and I got the bug and I got something better than love
How you like me now? Pretty good
Going on, feeling strong


I quit my job blowing leaves, telephone bills up my sleeves
Choking like a one man dustball, freedom rock slimeball talking in code
We went down, lit up the shack, grabbed me a beer out of the sack
Everybody bent over twice, painting the walls, throwing some dice
Leaping up into the air getting juiced up beyond belief
And they were singin' like this!

Winos throwing frisbees at the sun, burnt my soul between the bun
Now I'm wounded, now I'm drunk, now I'm runnin' like a flaming pig
Oh yeah, scraping off the attitude, old man eating all my food
Don't be kind, don't be rude, just shake your boots and let it all get loose
Oh yeah, my goodness

Fluffy clouds, lovely rainbows
I'm sad, a soft and snuggly place
Fluffy clouds, I'm sad and unhappy
Yppahnu dna das


Winos throwing frisbees at the sun, burnt my soul between the bun
Now I'm wounded, now I'm drunk, now I'm runnin' like a flaming pig
Oh yeah, scraping off the attitude, old man eating all my food
Don't be kind, don't be rude, just shake your boots and let it all get loose
Oh yea, my goodness

Oh yeah! Ah my goodness!
C'mon! Shake that stuff on me
Lay it on
C'mon
Ah yea!
Ah my goodness!
Lay it on down
I like it like that, I like it
I like it like that
Ah gimme some of that
Oh my goodness
Ah man!
Ah my goodness!
 
 
The Song:

"Beercan" is exactly what the song should be. That is, a fun party of a song, about a fun party.

This is one of the tracks Beck did with Carl Stephenson, who added his trademark layers of sound (lots of percussion, organ, and some awesome acoustic guitar) as well as odd samples about fluffy clouds and lovely rainbows (from a Care Bears album!). There's a lot to the music and it just seems like everyone is having a blast.

The best part about the lyrics to "Beercan" is its attention to detail and Beck's wonderful way of describing the action. There are not just people at a party drinking, but "game show suckers" with shiny teeth and "freedom rock slimeballs." Unique descriptions, but clear the type of people of whom he is referring.

That said, there is some depth to this party. Beck starts the song with his big plans to get juiced up, not totally for fun, but to "ditch myself" and, as implied, the others. It is a very bluesy take on drinking, and while everyone else is throwing frisbees and dancing, Beck's full of real worries. His drinking is escapist. He just "quit my job blowing leaves" and has "telephone bills up my sleeves" and he wants, no, needs to escape.

He succeeds whole-heartedly in the chorus, where he finally is drunk and his troubles are gone (well, forgotten): "just shake your boots and let it all get loose."

-

Recently, in 2014, a demo tape of Mellow Gold songs surfaced, which included an early mix of "Beercan." Much of the song is identical to the version on Mellow Gold--the same music and vocals, for instance. But there are a few notable changes. First, they tightened the whole song up. For example, in between the first two verses is a bass solo (and "how you like me now?"). On the demo, this part is slightly longer. Similarly, after the Melvins-sample guitar screech, there is also another slightly longer little bit that got cut out for the final version. Lastly, and most strikingly, the ending organ jam on the demo is entirely different and much longer. Some of the organ bits are the same, but it's definitely an earlier longer, more meandering section at this point. Beck's hilarious vocals about flamethrowers and sassafras are not there yet either, though he does do similar generic ad-libbing throughout this section.

Here is that 'demo' of the song:

 
Live:

Played live 217 times:
Earliest known live version: April 12, 1994
Latest known live version: August 8, 2018

One of Beck's more popular songs, "Beercan" on stage is just as entertaining as on record. It often gets a prime position in the setlist, and up until around 2005 (Guero), the song was played quite often. Since then, its frequency has dropped, but it still is usually not far from the rotation.

1994 Mellow Gold tour

One setlist report from April 20 1994 claims that there was an acoustic version of "Beercan." There's no bootleg that I know about... but wow! Really? I'm skeptical. But note it anyway.

In August 1994, Beck performed "Beercan" live on TV. It is fairly close to the record, however, but as one of the earliest TV appearances, it's worth a look:



After that, the fall 1994 club shows at the end of the Mellow Gold tour often concluded with "Beercan." Listening to the bootlegs, Beck tends to sound out-of-breath, and it's easy to imagine him jumping around the stage as he sings. One result of this is that Beck tends to mess up the verses a lot, but that's part of the fun. It results in amusing ad-libs (like "My pants feel good tonight!" or "Grab your fancy pants and get on down like you're number one!"). The song is very drum and bass heavy (reminds me of "Diskobox" at times), along with an awesome keyboard solo during the ending jam, that would sometimes go on for particularly lengthy amounts of time.

The show on December 1, 1994 in France has one of the best live versions of "Beercan" you'll ever hear. Beck introduces the song as a "claustrophobic boogie" and he ad-libs lots of silly asides ("I'm talking about a cold ass fashion" and "My soul's sucked dry!"). It also really shows off his crack band (not band on crack).

Not as groovy as the record, but still these heavier 1994 jams are terrific.

1995 Lollapalooza tours

Not a lot of boots from 1995, but one good one is August 27. Beck and his hyper punk band run through "Beercan," filling it with lots of keyboard effects and drums.

1996-1997 Odelay tours

On the Odelay tour, "Beercan" was still being enthusiastically performed. With his new band, the song had a new tighter funkiness and was generally pretty exciting. It was much more faithful to the original's groove and arrangement. The middle bit never fails to make me laugh, as Beck, Smokey and Justin all take turns going "fluffy clouds! lovely rainbows!" One fun performance took place on July 21, 1996, where Beck had terrible difficulty remembering the lyrics. This of course led to a number of hilarious moments, and by the end, Beck just stopped singing and let a lengthy jam take over.

The band basically recreated the Mellow Gold arrangement and atmosphere as best as they could (which is, of course, expertly). "Beercan" really fit well with the Odelay tour and was played very regularly throughout. Here is a great example of the song in 1996, and its lengthy ending jam:



1998-1999 post-Odelay tours

Some of the post-Odelay shows were wild pre-cursors to the funk and soul of Midnite Vultures. "Beercan" again fits with that, and the new arrangements included lots of Beck ad-libs and references to other songs (like "Electric Avenue") and a killer scratching solo in the middle from DJ Swamp. The Brass Menagerie really adds to the stew, as well.

The June 6, 1998, version in Saratoga began with one of Beck's weirdest intros: "My name is MC Self-Help and I'm helping myself to some vitamin-D milk tonight. I prefer mine homogenized. This is a jam from way back in 1993!" During the middle "lovely clouds" section, Beck advised "I want you all to visualize naked dolphins." By the end, he's "defying the logic of all sexx laws" and then jamming on "Whoomp (There It Is!)." Madness!

Here is a version from November 1999, which is just electric (and includes "Electric Avenue" as a tag):



2000-2001 Vultures tours

This arrangement was also used throughout the Vultures tours. "Beercan" wasn't played every night on this tour, maybe just about 25% of the shows. I guess Beck's catalogue was expanding, and "Beercan" was drifting off a bit. Often when it was performed, it was the first song of the night, a good set-up for the fun Vultures concerts. The biggest difference musically is that the middle "lovely clouds" section has been replaced with DJ Swamp scratching. This isn't too different from the 1999 version above, but I love it so much, I'm going to post it here too:



Summer 2003 Sea Change tour

On Beck's earliest Sea Change tours, he ignored "Beercan". These tours were either solo (no surprise) or with The Flaming Lips (would've loved to hear them try this!)

However, Beck dug the song back out for the summer 2003 band, who were really talented with the fast and groovy rock songs. They fill "Beercan" with fun effects, the keyboard solo is as always especially cool.

2005-2007 Guero / Info tours

Beck continued to play "Beercan" regularly through his Guero/Info world tours, though mostly regularly during 2005 (Guero) and far less frequently in 2006/2007 (Info). He had a new band, with a new energy, but still "Beercan" kills it. They seem to do it a little bit faster than in the past, and don't often do the entire song. The song ends once they get through the fluffy clouds bridge, usually seguing into another song directly.

One low-key version which is pretty enjoyable is this one, from a private party for Paste Magazine. It has the full junkyard Information-style percussion, lots of vocals, and just feels spontaneous.:



2008-2009 Modern Guilt tour

Beck did not really play "Beercan" in 2008 on the Modern Guilt tours. It did show up once at a post-show club gig (after some big shows that year, Beck and his band would show up and play in a small coffee shop or whatnot sometimes). At the show in El Paso on Sept 2008, they dropped into a coffee shop and borrowed some instruments and jammed for a little bit. A magazine report of the show mentioned a "reworked rendition" of "Beercan." So this could be one of the few drastically rearranged versions of the songs ever. I'd love to hear it!

Beck in 2009 took the Modern Guilt tour to Japan, and they did play "Beercan" three times. While not full, it is longer than the previous versions. Coming out of the middle bridge, they don't end, but add another chorus. Then they stop, there is no long organ/outro jam.

2014 Morning Phase tour

After Modern Guilt, Beck took a couple years off the road (2009-2010). He returned to some small touring 2011-2013, but never played "Beercan." In 2014, he started supporting Morning Phase and touring more regularly again. "Beercan" re-joined the setlist about halfway through the year, and in the end they played it 13 times out of the 57 shows this year. It fit perfectly, performed with gusto, a loose party jam. They played the song in its entirety, similar to the record, though the ending organ jam was usually replaced by some adlibbing or a third chorus. Here is a typical example of the 2014 band doing the song:



2015-2017 post-Morning Phase tour

"Beercan" leaked past the Morning Phase tour ever-so-slightly, only showing up at the first two main shows of 2015. It was then dropped, and not played for a few years.

2017-2018 Colors tour

[stay tuned]

SUMMING IT ALL UP

OK this was long and repetitive. I'll sum it up here. In 1994, Beck played a basically grunge metal version of the song, with heavy riffs, heavy drums, lengthy organ jam at the end. Yet it still followed the basic arrangement as the album.

Then for years, on Odelay and Vultures tours, Beck did better, replicating the groovy party atmosphere of the record. Some minor differences (Vultures band had horns) and changes, but all in all, not much changed for a long time.

Beck then for awhile took to doing shortened versions of the song (basically cutting off the entire outro part), though still recreating the sound of the record.

In 2014, the "Beercans" were not shortened and performed in full (and the band really seemed to love the song).
 
videos

official video:



 
Notes: