Detonate
By: Beck Hansen

Written by: Beck Hansen

Alternate Titles:

a.k.a. Talkin' Beck Blues
a.k.a. Talkin' Demolition Expert

Versions:
  1. Detonate (4:25)
    Available on Banjo Story.
    Credits
    unknown: Drums
    Beck Hansen: Guitar (Acoustic), Vocals
 
Lyrics:
Detonate [Version (a)]:

I'm a strapped-in loner, I was heedin' that shame
You never shake my hand, you never know my name
A crackhouse cooling, just chewin' the floor
I pass out cold and I go look for some more
I got all kinds of devices I'm gonna detonate

Got a .45 magazine, rag of gasoline
Phone booth, gold tooth, a pigeon wing
Got bazookas, hand grenades
Firebomb weddings, spray down parades

I used to work in an office in the outskirts of town
Routine, the grindstone grinding me down
So I picked up a filing cabinet and threw it at my boss
And then I took him outside and hung him on a cross
Then I kept walking on down the road

Oh yeah

Well fourteen uzis later and a bottle of rum
A cigarette lighter and a live chicken
Got in all kinds of mischief
Some kinds I won't tell, I did all kinds of things

Well I went into the Peekaboo Hut
To watch the lady have sex with a mutt
And then, uh, then I, then I,
I had a demolition derby with some shopping carts
And I killed every pop star in the top-twenty charts
I like to hijack people
I like to jump through movie screens at the best part
I was reading that hardcore magazine
101 Erotic Things To Do With Bologna
Then I went home and I painted the tv screen
On the old black and white TV
And I painted a picture on it
And I watched it all night long

I ate a live dog and I buried his bone
Then I carved out a tombstone
I got shell-casings in the freezer
A money belt in the drawer
I stole some blank checks
And I used them down at the comic book store
I read a lot of comic books
 
The Song:

Back in the early folk days, one style of song Woody Guthrie perfected was called the Talkin' Blues. Guthrie had a million of them, and naturally so did Bob Dylan in the '60s. The formula was usually a humorous narrative told over a rhythmic acoustic guitar. The vocals were usually half-spoken, and used a lot of rhymes. Technically, they followed the pattern of two lines that rhyme, tow more that rhyme, then two or three irregular lines which follow as a comment. Talkin' Blues could be considered an early form of rap.

When Beck first arrived in New York around 1988, he only played covers of Woody Guthrie, the Delta blues, etc. As he began to hang around with other musicians, he learned that the way to get gigs was to write your own songs. So Beck began to do so, initially just rewriting older melodies he liked. "Detonate," from Banjo Story, is one of those songs.

You can't really single out one Talkin' Blues melody as the prototype for "Detonate," as they are all pretty much the same. That is, this is not a rewrite of anything specific, but its own use of the style. Beck fills his lyrics with some really hilarious stuff, though at the same time it's a little disturbing. It's an entertaining song though, and we've seen Beck use this character in his songs a number of times in the early days.
 
Notes: