Today, we turn our ears to one of Beck’s golden oldies, “Alcohol.”
First, a video for the song via YouTube. It is, quite cleverly, just a video of a pile of beer cans.
Alright, so I am finally getting around to doing one of these. I have intended to take part in this Oeuvre since the beginning, but it seems that a lack of memory and an abundance of things to do has prevented me from being part of this project.
Anyway, so alcohol. Alcohol is a good friend of mine, but it is also a song I have not visited in quite a while. Dot (my iPod) says it has a play count of 3. So let’s revisit.
I really enjoy the simplicity of this song. There’s not exactly a lot to it. I had forgotten pretty much all of the lyrics to this song, in addition to the end of the song, that came as a surprise at first, but I quickly remembered. This song brought back memories of my first year in university, which was also the year I became of drinking age here, as did all of my roommates. Needless to say, there was a lot of alcohol flowing around our place that year.
This song also reminded me of the following sign my roommates made for me after I was trying to convince them that alcohol helps solve problems, especially math problems. None of them had ever taken calculus or any university math course for that matter, so they still do not understand this concept.
Note the misspelling of ‘alcohol’.
Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.”
This is a nice little song. My favorite part of this tune: The music. The chord progression is simple, but poignant. I love the strumming with the integrated finger picking. Its one of those good ol’ folk songs that Beck wrote so many of during this period. I’m so laid back listening to this one. Favorite lyric from this song: “Now it is time for pie.” MMMMM. Pie. Love it. Listening to this song for the first time in a while. Ending just kicked in. Distortion and drum beat is kinda heavy and isn’t my favorite ending to the song, but cool none the less.
The very first Beck album I heard was the “Loser” single, back in the day. There was something hypnotic about this song. Who was this Beck figure? I was hooked. “Loser” and “Corvette Bummer” were so much fun. But this? This! He does folk songs too? Beautiful, hypnotic, calming folk songs. And about pie?! I can remember playing this CD single in my first university apartment: cheap furniture, video game system, pictures from magazines taped to the walls. I loved the turn into some weird noisy squall then, and still do now, even though it is almost like a whole another song to me (or at least, “Alcohol, Part 2″). I don’t care if this guy is a one-hit wonder with songs like these to back him up. I must hear more.
“Alcohol” is one of the first few Beck b-sides I got, and it remains one of my favourites. There’s nothing fancy or gimmicky about it, it’s just a clean, cool song. It reminds me a lot of high school, both because that’s when I first heard it and because of the content. It just perfectly captures that alochol-induced feeling of, if you’ll pardon the cliché, being halfway between the gutter and the stars. Who hasn’t had a night like this? (A: Bebo)
The two released version of the songs have very different moods for me. The freakout at the end of the Loser b-side version, and the higher production values, give it a more upbeat and wild feel to me. The Golden Leftovers version comes across as far more weary, haggard, and sad. The two takes are much like the highs and lows within the song.
Now it is time for pie:
And now it is time for a cool live version, Beck playing the song in Minneapolis on June 29, 1994 with Ray & Glover.
(update: newt’s pie photo links now work)