Side of the Road
By: Beck Hansen

Written by: Beck Hansen

Versions:
  1. Side of the Road (3:23)
    Available on Sea Change.
    Credits
    Justin Meldal-Johnsen: Bass (Upright)
    Joey Waronker: Drums, Percussion
    Darrell Thorp: Engineer
    Nigel Godrich: Engineer, Mix, Producer
    Smokey Hormel: Guitar (Acoustic Slide)
    Beck Hansen: Guitar (Acoustic), Vocals
    Roger Joseph Manning Jr.: Organ (Wurlitzer)
  2. Side of the Road (Surround Sound Mix) (3:23)
    Available on Sea Change.
    Credits
    Elliot Scheiner: Remix
 
Lyrics:
Side of the Road [Version (a)]:

Something better than this
Some place I'd like to go
To let all I have learned
Tell me what I know
About the kind of life
I never thought I'd live
'Til the ugly truth
Showed me what it did
Let it pass on the side of the road
What a friend could tell me now

On a borrowed dime
In a different light
You will see what
The other side looks like
In a random room
Behind an iron door
Kick an empty can
Across an empty floor
Let it pass on the side of the road
What a friend could tell me now
 
The Song:

The closing track on Sea Change is a gorgeous blues.

"Side of the Road" is a very simple, pretty recording, with not a lot of production involved. There's a minimal band backing.

And what an amazing track to end on, as I believe it sums up a lot of the broken feelings of the rest of the album, and indicates some moving past them. Beck is always aware of making a complete album, and not just throwing together songs. And after a full set of tunes of heartbreak and frustration and loss, here at the end the narrator of the album is finally moving forward. Put these feelings in your rearviewmirror, continue on your way. Let it all pass on the side of the road.

Those distant lights, which in the first song of the album, were far and few, are now much closer and in view.
 
Live:

Played live 34 times:
Earliest known live version: August 2, 2002
Latest known live version: September 10, 2005

"Side of the Road" was played on stage for the first time on August 2 2002. It was done as an acoustic duet, with Beck finger-picking his guitar, and Smokey adding some bluesy slide licks. The live versions are a lot more haunting and powerful, while the recording feels more reflexive and folky, which I think is due to how Beck sings it.

A full-band version made it's first appearance on August 30 2002, though for the most part, the extra musicians stay out of the way (as on the record).

On tour with the Flaming Lips in October and November 2002, Beck played "Side of the Road" a few times. He never played it with the Lips, it was done solo acoustic each time.

One more band version came on February 14 2003. This time the band has a bit more presence, and the song sounds much fuller for it.

April 2003 saw Beck play a solo acoustic tour through Europe, and "Side Of The Road" was included at 8 of the shows.

 
Notes: