Scarecrow
By: Beck Hansen, John King, Mike Simpson

Written by: Beck Hansen, John King, Mike Simpson

Versions:
  1. Scarecrow (4:16)
    Available on Guero and 2 other releases.
    Credits
    Recorded at: The Boat
    Beck Hansen: Bass, Guitar (Electric), Harmonica, Mix, Producer, Vocals
    Danny Kalb: Engineer
    The Dust Brothers: Mix, Producer
  2. Scarecrow (El-P remix) (4:37)
    Available on Guerolito.
    Credits
    El-P: Remix
    Beck Hansen: Vocals
  3. Scarecrow (Leaked Version) (7:00)
    Available on Guero.
  4. Scarecrow (Surround Mix) (4:16)
    Available on Guero.
Unofficial Versions: [show/hide]
  1. Billie Jean Is Only Scaring Herself (6:24)
    Credits
    Beck Hansen: Mashed
    Michael Jackson: Mashed
    logicError: Remix (Mashup)
  2. The Scarecrow's Not My Son (5:57)
    Credits
    Beck Hansen: Mashed
    Michael Jackson: Mashed
    logicError: Remix (Mashup)
  3. Scarecrow (El-P Remix) / Scarecrow (4:14)
    Available on Three Steps Beckwards.
    Credits
    Beck Hansen: Mashed
    Ian Wardle: Remix (Mashup)
 
 
Lyrics:
Scarecrow [Version (a)]:

Walking to the other side
With the devil trying to take my mind
And my soul's just a silhouette
On the ashes of a cigarette

Illusions never fake their lies
Trick cards fool the eye
Carry zeroes over 'til they add up
Bury tears in the chapters you shut
Sometimes the jail can't chain the cell
And the rain's too plain to tell
All alone by a barren well
The scarecrow's only scaring himself

I've been digging the ground
Beneath the dust and the clouds
I see miles and miles
And the junkyard piles
I wanted hope from a grave
I wanted strength from a slave
What gives you comfort now
Might be the end of you then

Crows are pulling at my clothes
The wind got my fingers froze
Standin' all day, keepin' watch
Over all the treasures we've lost
Sometimes the jail can't chain the cell
And the rain's to plain to tell
All alone by a barren well
The scarecrow's only scaring himself
Oooh ooh ooh

Scarecrow's only scaring himself
Scarecrow's only scaring himself
Scarecrow's only scaring himself
 
The Song:

"Scarecrow" is a swampy blues song, a centerpiece on Guero.

Originally, the song was seven minutes long, and it rides the same groove the entire time. I kept expecting, since it's Beck, for the song to change up, but it never did. And it's all the better for it! He just keeps adding harmonicas and blues guitars to it. Amazing song, imo. The lyrics and music are ominous and picturesque. This version was on the leaked version of Guero that came out a few months prior to the record. (It was the biggest difference between the leak and the final; all other differences were pretty minor adjustments.)

However, on the final Guero version, Beck edited the song way down. Basically Beck cut some of the transitions between verses, and the long "One Foot in the Grave"-like harmonica jam at the end was drastically cut. Many electric guitar licks were also wiped. My initial impression of the shorter version is that it feels much more cluttered and hectic, it doesn't have quite the same leisurely pace to it.

Lyrically, the song pretty much has the same effect as the music. Beck was asked about the song and he said, "I think of it as robots on the bayou, down on the swamp. I had this whole image as we were making the song of this shack on the bayou, with the trees hanging down, alligators, a bunch of robots on the porch hanging out, watching the geese."

I'm sure there could be a lot of theories about this scarecrow figure. In "Emergency Exit," Beck mentions the "scarecrow shadow on the Nazarene," which gives it a religious connotation (perhaps the devil?). (Nazareth is considered the childhood home of Jesus.)

The song also has an overwhelming feel of uselessness, with trick cards and illusions and digging the ground, going nowhere fast, and futile scarecrows who don't scare the crows.
 
Live:

Played live 44 times:
Earliest known live version: February 4, 2005
Latest known live version: July 2, 2013

EARLY 2005 PRE-GUERO SECRET SHOWS & PRESS

The earliest recording, from Feb 4 2005, of a live "Scarecrow" is also the first time Beck tried the song in public. Beck started the song with some eerie "ooh" falsettos, before the groove settled in. Beck's band sing along with him on all the verses. The beat is natural on stage, but it seems like a song that may fall apart easier than others. The harmonica is included, but it's not Beck playing unfortunately, one of his band take the harp duties. Also check out the KCRW version on March 31 2005, which is a terrific jam, and with the video footage, you can watch Beck get into his trippy guitar solo.

Acoustic version = October 22 2006 = brings out the blues of the song.
 
Notes:
Beck has said that the idea of the remix, which he was all about for Guero, inspired him in that each song could be a skeleton for numerous versions. To that end, he went in the studio and recorded different takes of songs... the only specifics he mentioned was that they tried a "calypso version" of "Scarecrow" at one point!