Master's Hands
By: Beck Hansen

Written by: Beck Hansen

Versions:
  1. Master's Hands (2:49)
    Available on IRM.
    Credits
    Matt Mahaffey: Banjo
    Drew Brown: Bass, Drum Programming
    Beck Hansen: Drum Programming, Guitar, Producer
    Justin Meldal-Johnsen: Percussion
    Charlotte Gainsbourg: Vocals
 
Lyrics:
Master's Hands [Version (a)]:

Hey hey hey hey hey

Hold my head up, right foot back
Take my hands down, shake my back
Pull my strings and cut my rope
Rattle my frame and shatter my ghost
And if I can't get back in line
They're gonna break me down
'Til the broad daylight comes through

Breathe out, come alive
Give me a reason to feel

Take my eyes and paint my bones
Drill my brain all full of holes
And patch it up before it leaks
These memories come two by three
And if I catch these master's hands
I'm gonna spend my days
On a discount revelry

Breathe out, come alive
Give me a reason to feel
 
The Song:

"Master's Hands" is the opening track on the Charlotte Gainsbourg album, IRM, which Beck co-produced and wrote.

Based on a repetitive acoustic guitar lick, surrounded by electronic sounds and junkyard beats, "Master's Hands" is a unique way to open the album. Charlotte purrs the lyrics, and the song ends with a coda. It is a great recording that rewards many listens.

In one joint interview, Charlotte and Beck both noted the "bizarre coincidence" that occurred in writing this song. As Beck explained, "I was very tired at the session and just started scribbling the lyrics to 'Master's Hands' down. One of the lines I came up with was 'drill my head full of holes/to let the memories out.' [sic] It was a metaphorical image but afterwards the engineer said to me, 'You know, that's what actually happened to her last year.' And I had no idea she'd had this accident. We'd never even talked about it. That was the real beginning for me."

The accident referred to was a cerebral brain hemorrhage that Charlotte had in 2007. This experience infuses the album in many ways, and it appears that "Master's Hands" was one of the first to trigger that. (The album title IRM refers to it as well, as do a few other songs.) "Master's Hands" digs into the feeling that your life is out of your control, a feeling certainly emphasized by a medical emergency. The first uses a puppet metaphor, the second a surgeon, to perhaps look at the idea of God. I like the restraint of the lyrics, and their matter-of-factness. As I said, it's a good first song, a sort of doorway into the ideas and sounds of the rest of the album.