End of the Day
By: Beck Hansen
Written by: Beck Hansen

Alternate Titles:

a.k.a. Nothing I Haven't Seen

Versions:
  1. End of the Day (5:00)
    Available on Sea Change.
    Credits
    Justin Meldal-Johnsen: Bass (Electric)
    Roger Joseph Manning Jr.: Clavinet
    Smokey Hormel: Dobro
    James Gadson: Drums
    Darrell Thorp: Engineer
    Nigel Godrich: Engineer, keyboards, Mix, Producer
    Beck Hansen: Guitar (Acoustic), Vocals
    Joey Waronker: Percussion
  2.  
  3. End of the Day (Surround Sound Mix) (5:00)
    Available on Sea Change.
    Credits
    Elliot Scheiner: Remix
 
Lyrics:
End of the Day [Version (a)]:

I've seen the end of the day come too soon
Not a lot to say, not a lot to do
You played the game, you owe nothing to yourself
Rest a day, for tomorrow you can't tell
You can't tell

I've seen the end of the day come too late
Seen the love you had turning into hate
Had to act like I didn't even care
But I did so I got stranded standing there
Standing there

It's nothing that I haven't seen before
But it still kills me like it did before
No it's nothing that I haven't seen before
But it still kills me like it did before

I've seen the end of the day come too soon
Like the prison dogs they set out after you
You owe nothing to the past but wasted time
To serve a sentence that was only in your mind
In your mind

It's nothing that I haven't seen before
But it still kills me like it did before
No it's nothing that I haven't seen before
But it still kills me like it did before
 
The Song:

"End of the Day" is a song from Sea Change. I am impressed with this song's subtlety. The lyrics, the melody, the emotion... all could have been easily overdone, but Beck handles it just right. It's also amazing just how catchy the songs like this are, even though they lack any "hooks." This is an underrated aspect of Beck's songwriting ability.

"End of the day," of course, could refer to almost anything, but almost surely it doesn't just mean "night." There are many situations this song could apply to, from losing a job, to death, to a broken heart, to point out but a few. The song is at about a break-up, but the specifics of what is breaking up is expertly left vague. It's more about the act, not the specifics. He fills the song with a sense of resignation. Things are ending, and there's nothing to do about it. It's happened before and it will happen again. Yet it's still affecting.

I really like how the song progresses on this theme too. In the beginning, the change symbolized by the "end of the day" is simply accepted as happenstance; there's "not a lot to say, not a lot to do." The second verse has a little more reaction, mainly frustration, as the end came "too late." It even refers to the time in the first verse when he "had to act like [he] didn't even care." Finally, the third verse describes the end in stronger emotions, comparing it to the vicious and relentless pursuance of prison dogs. It's a natural progression of emotions.
 
Live:

Played live 39 times:
Earliest known live version: August 2, 2002
Latest known live version: November 14, 2012

"End Of The Day" was played live mostly in 2002 and 2003, with a slight return to it in 2006 as well. It's gone through a couple of different arrangements in the way it is played (acoustic, band, etc.).

AUGUST 2002 Owe Nothing folk version

Beck premiered "End of the Day" on stage on August 2, 2002, though it never really became a regular song on the short August tour, playing it 6 times in 20 shows. Beck played the song on acoustic guitar, and was usually accompanied by Smokey Hormel who added slide guitar. His slide guitar touches are a great edition to the simple folksiness of the song.

2002-2003 Prison Dogs band version

August 30, 2002 was the final gig of the month, and he was joined on stage by the band who recorded Sea Change with him. They played "End Of The Day" together. They also do it a few times in March 2003.

FALL 2002 Played The Game version with the Flaming Lips

This band arrangement carried over to the Flaming Lips tour, where he played the song with them a number of times early on their tour. The arrangement with the Lips is interesting, as some night it kind of rides the line between a plodding rock song and a more delicate, pretty one. (Some nights though = gorgeous. See the first show, October 14, 2002.) They did it about 10 times together.

Beck tried "End of the Day" with his new band at the first two shows they did together in the summer of 2003, but then they dropped it entirely.

2006 Come Too Late version

Beck toured forever in 2005 and most of 2006, never playing "End Of The Day" until the end of 2006. They played it 7 times around October that year. I think a few of them were solo acoustic, and a few may have been with band.

However, two of them (October 17 and 22) were acoustic band versions--Beck plays it on acoustic guitar, while the band adds some other touches (ie., harmonium, percussion). The October 17, 2006 show was broadcast on Toronto TV and is a full band acoustic show. The "End Of The Day" is stunning, with a harmonium underpinning the folk song, as well as some light percussion.
 
Notes: