Corvette Bummer
By: Beck Hansen

Written by: Beck Hansen

Versions:
  1. Corvette Bummer (4:55)
    Available on Mellow Gold and 3 other releases.
    Credits
    Recorded at: Poop Alley Studios
    Beck Hansen: Producer, Vocals
    Tom Grimley: Producer
 
Lyrics:
Corvette Bummer [Version (a)]:

All my days, I had moldy bread
Robot brains in the flying airplanes
Hollowed out and filled with dust
Rockin' like a hurricane under the rug
Bored to the core on a sunken boat
A worn-out candle in a plastic coat
A ziplock bag, a pelican bone
A perfect stupid cardboard reject
Overfed electric comatose
Riding in the air, invisible socks
A broken blanket, flaming sawdust
Waking up in the shadow of a piece of a dirt

Gonna fly like a dog, gonna leap right out the wall
Gonna walk around this town with a can o' whiskey
Gonna run like a bird, gonna roll out in the dirt
Gonna run around this town with a phone machine

Yellow cat laying flat on the road
Molten lead shooting out the ground
Tin foil witch burning under the bridge
Flap your wings and leap out the window
Put a glass eye in the eyes of God
Milk the kids, Polaroid cupcake
Take it to the limit, new wave biscuit
Camouflage gimmick, wimp out like never before

Gonna jump like a fly, gonna burn like a pig
Gonna flap around and pass out on the kitchen floor
Gonna crawl like a rock, gonna dance like a worm
Gonna take my shoes right off and smell my socks

Gonna fly like a squirrel, gonna swing like a chicken
Gonna weed-whack a plate of noodles in the afternoon
Gonna melt like a weasel, gonna fry like a kid
Gonna get my walkie-talkie and some mustard and some mayonnaise
And a mermaid and some macaroni, bricks, and some telephone wires
And phone machines and a fax machine and a... hahaha!
 
The Song:

"Corvette Bummer" is a bizarre, surreal rap. The musical accompaniment is minimal, mostly consisting of some gunshot drums and some psychedelic guitar. There is a little bass in there, and a brief section of scratching in the middle. But they're all just backing for Beck's weird stream-of-conscious lyrics.

Once in 1997, a radio DJ asked Beck where a song like "Corvette Bummer" comes from. Beck says there's a chair with a helmet, and he has to sit in it and get all the words down before his hands get lit on fire.

Beck's sense of humor is really the main force behind the song. He even ends the song by cracking up. Many phrases are traditional Beckisms. "Bored to the core on a sunken boat" is built around a favorite Beck phrase. For example, in "Bogusflow," amplified dishwashers are "exploring the boring to the core." "Yellow cat laying flat on the road" appears verbatim in "Ziplock Bag" as well. "A ziplock bag, a pelican bone" also show up here. Those are just two examples—lots of images and words are common to Beck's lexicon, from adjectives like "flaming" to flapping wings and cupcakes. He was definitely in cruise control here, and the end effect is a classic, underrated, fun song.
 
Live:

Played live 10 times:
Earliest known live version: June 21, 1994
Latest known live version: December 4, 1994

Despite being a B-side, "Corvette Bummer" did get played on the Mellow Gold tours fairly frequently. It was a fun rap for the stage, full of great drumming and cool effects. An odd keyboard (or horn sample?) continued throughout the song that sounded a bit like a whimpering cat.

One amazing version was the opening song on June 29, 1994. Beck was a little out of breath?you can imagine him running all around the stage?but the band (especially the drummer) is trashing the hell out of the song. "Corvette Bummer" didn't last too long as the opening song, but it remains one of my favorites to kick a show off.

On September 6, 1994, the first chorus was kind of new:
Gonna fly like a dog, gonna jump right out the wall
Gonna jump around and throw my dice on the ballroom floor
Gonna run like a bird, gonna roll out of the dirt
Gonna pick myself right up and lay 'em on the blanket
Beck introduces "Corvette Bummer" on October 28, 1994, as a "song about Saugus...goin' back to the Gold days...1974." Saugus is a city north of Los Angeles, not too far from where Beck grew up. This was a fun version, to boot. The song ended with Beck repeating a favorite blues line "I got the blues and I can't be satisfied." He would use this Mississippi John Hurt reference often during live performances of "Corvette Bummer."

A pretty tame version of the song kicked off the concert on December 4, 1994. Beck jumped right into it, changing the first line to "All my days I got moldy balls. . ." The whimpering cat horn was still being used and it really had a strange effect on the song's atmosphere.
 
Notes: