Guess I'm Doin' Fine
By: Beck Hansen

Written by: Beck Hansen

  1. Guess I'm Doin' Fine (4:48)
    Available on Sea Change and 5 other releases.
    Justin Meldal-Johnsen: Bass (Electric), Vocals (Background)
    Roger Joseph Manning Jr.: Clavinet, Piano, Vocals (Background)
    Joey Waronker: Drums, Percussion, Vocals (Background)
    Darrell Thorp: Engineer
    Nigel Godrich: Engineer, Keyboard / Synthesizer, Mix, Producer
    Beck Hansen: Guitar (Acoustic), Harmonica, Keyboard / Synthesizer, Vocals, Vocals (Background)
    Smokey Hormel: Guitar (Electric)
  2. Guess I'm Doin' Fine (Surround Sound Mix) (4:48)
    Available on Sea Change.
    Elliot Scheiner: Remix
Guess I'm Doin' Fine [Version (a)]:

There's a bluebird at my window
I can't hear the songs he sings
All the jewels in heaven
They don't look the same to me
I just wade the tides that turned
Till I learn to leave the past behind
It's only lies that I'm livin'
It's only tears that I'm cryin'
It's only you that I'm losin'
I guess I'm doing fine

All the battlements are empty
And the moon is laying low
Yellow roses in the graveyard
I got no time to watch them grow
Now I bade a friend farewell
I can do whatever pleases me
It's only lies that I'm livin'
It's only tears that I'm cryin'
It's only you that I'm losin'
I guess I'm doing fine

I press my face up to the window
To see how warm it is inside
I see the things that I've been missing
Missing all this time
It's only lies that I'm livin'
It's only tears that I'm cryin'
It's only you that I'm losin'
I guess I'm doin' fine
I guess I'm doin' fine
The Song:

"Guess I'm Doin' Fine" is one of the centerpiece songs on Sea Change.

Beck played the song live a few times before recording it, but made the song drearier and bluesier in the studio. On Sea Change, shimmering slide guitars cry over a sad, subtle rhythm of acoustic guitar, bass, and drums. Beck sings in a contemplative, resigned tone. It was recorded live, everyone together in a big studio room.

Beck borders on some cliches here, but it is saved by looking at the song as a whole, some subtle twists of phrase, and the real emotion underneath.

The opening lines start the song off with a metaphor for the whole song. Bluebirds appear in a lot of old country and folk songs, and it's no secret Beck was tapping in to those genres for Sea Change. They often indicate happiness. Here, the bluebird is outside the window, which sounds good. Happiness is near! But, alas, Beck can't hear its songs. This is going to be a sad song.

The second verse begins with a striking image, telling us that "all the battlements are empty." I believe this is indicating that he can't fight anymore; his defenses are down (see "Lost Cause"). In combination with "the moon is hanging low," it helps to paint a picture of weariness. ("The moon is hanging low" reaches way back to "Sleeping Bag," where "the moon is hanging low like a metal ball.") This weariness infiltrates the entire song, especially in Beck's vocals.

The third verse's image of the narrator at the window, looking at what he longs for, and lost, is another powerful one. It is simple, but still memorable. Interestingly, Beck took the strongest line out of that verse, having replaced "I see the things that I've been missing / How it kills me every time." The effect of the chorus is to give all these verses, which as I said, can border on cliche, an extra emotion. His loss is causing him to question life, cry. He's putting on a happy face--"I guess I'm doing fine."

He's not doing fine.

Played live 153 times:
Earliest known live version: February 21, 2002
Latest known live version: August 14, 2023


Between February 21 and 26 2002, Beck played four concerts around southern California. "Guess I'm Doing Fine" was played at each, and the song would be recorded a few weeks after this run of shows. The debut performance of the song on February 21 was done as a duet of just Beck on acoustic guitar and Justin Meldal-Johnsen on stand-up bass. The following nights had more of a band backing. Beck cut short the song on February 24, saying it felt too "pathetic."


The acoustic tour in August of course saw "Guess I'm Doing Fine" at most every show. On August 3, Beck played it alone on his acoustic guitar. He nailed the little intro, and the song is every bit as beautiful when done solo. Perhaps even more so! Sometimes Smokey Hormel accompanied Beck, adding some pretty slide guitar.

During the first leg of the Sea Change tour with the Flaming Lips, Beck continued to play the song most every night, but always during the solo acoustic portion of his set.

He also did the song regularly in April 2003, on his solo tour of Europe.


While most of 2002 saw acoustic solo versions, once, on November 14, 2002, the Lips added a very subtle backing of some slide guitar (I believe that's all they added?). Then throughout 2003, the song seemed to alternate between folk takes and band takes.

One band version was showcased on Saturday Night Live on February 15, 2003. On the Australia/Japan Sea Change tour in March, there were both folk and band versions. The song works well on stage in either form. Then for the full summer tours of 2003, I believe the song was always done in band form.


Beck did play "Guess I'm Doing Fine" a quite a few times in 2005 and 2006 on his Guero/Info tours. While most of these were in his acoustic set (usually just before the dinner table percussion joined in), there were a few gorgeous band ones too (see September 25, 2005 for example). Of special note are some performances in October 2006, which were during fun acoustic shows.

The song has not been played since 2006, as it was forgotten during Modern Guilt touring of 2008-2010, which was just generally a more upbeat show.


After a couple years off touring, Beck returned in 2011 for a small handful of shows. Beck played "Guess" at 3 of his 5 shows in 2011, which were generally quieter, acoustic gigs.

Beck then reconvened his band in 2012 for what were ostensibly a Sea Change anniversary run. Despite that, they only did "Guess" at the first two shows of 2012 (in May) and then once more in August. The song not showing up much in a Sea Change nostalgiac mindset probably means we won't hear it much anymore?

It did show up one later time in 2013, in an acoustic set Beck did with his band, as they were opening for Wilco.

2014-2017 MORNING PHASE / post-MORNING tours

It was not played on the Morning Phase tours of 2014, or any of the shows after that in 2015-2017 either.

2018 Benefit show and COLORS tour

In April 2018, Beck appeared at a benefit show in Los Angeles hosted by Stephen Stills. The house band at the show was the surviving members of The Heartbreakers. Beck was an unannounced "surprise guest," and he did "Guess I'm Doing Fine" and "Where It's At" with them. Michael Campbell and Benmont Tench, the Heartbreakers' guitarist and keyboardist, are terrific on "Guess," filling the song out beautifully. Beck's voice was in fine form. It's one of my favorite versions of the song:

The following week, Beck started a new leg of the Colors tour, and I guess the success of that benefit song led to him bringing the song out. He did it with his band, acoustic, with Jason Falkner adding the lead guitar flavor, and Jake Sinclair adding the new touch of banjo to the song. Great! They did it the very next show once more, as well, but that one had a bunch of false starts (Beck started the intro to "The Golden Age," then when he finally got "Guess" going, he messed up the start of the words). Once the song got going, it sounded awesome, but they never returned to the song after these two times.