Milk & Honey
By: Beck Hansen, Buzz Clifford

Written by: Beck Hansen, Buzz Clifford

  1. Milk & Honey (5:18)
    Available on Midnite Vultures.
    Justin Meldal-Johnsen: Bass, Guitar
    Roger Joseph Manning Jr.: Clavinet, Drums (Electronic), Guitar, Keyboard / Synthesizer, Piano, Vocals (Vocoder)
    Joey Waronker: Drums
    Tony Hoffer: Engineer, Guitar, Mix, Noise (Broken Furniture), Producer, Programming
    Beck Hansen: Guitar (Acoustic), Keyboard / Synthesizer, Mix, Producer, Programming, Vocals, Vocals (Vocoder)
    Johnny Marr: Guitar (Electric)
    Michael Patterson: Mix
    Mickey Petralia: Mix
    DJ Swamp: Scratching
Milk & Honey [Version (a)]:

Don't take your red ribbons off
You're about to make a fool of yourself
In the aluminum sunset, drinking from a drain
I'm a hundred miles behind myself
Milk and honey pouring down like money
Make a poor boy wanna run
Milk and honey, do you wanna love me
Under the aluminum sun?

Did you hear those war-torn stories
Where the lifeguards slept in the streets
In the junglelands with the cold cola cans
You'll get the keys to the city for free
Milk and honey pouring down like money
Bring a poor boy to his knees
Milk and honey, now it isn't funny
Living in a garden of sleaze

Well, I can smell the V.D. in the club tonight.
Excuse me, please.
Would you tell me how to get to the Soviet embassy?

Bangkok athletes in the biosphere
Arkansas wet dreams, we all disappear
Kremlin mistress, ring the Buddha chimes
She slips me ruffies, receding hairlines
She's all right...touching my body
She's all right...on my computer
She's all right...selling me watches
She's all right...ring on my finger

Milk and honey pouring down like money
Bring a poor boy to his knees
Milk and honey, now it isn't funny
Living in a garden of sleaze
Milk and, milk and... do you wanna?? Honey!
Milk and honey touching my body

Milk and honey
Milk and honey
Milk and honey
Milk and honey...
The Song:

"Milk & Honey" is another one of Beck's fantastic recordings where he packs as many ideas into one song as he can.

The opening verses are reminiscent to the lyrics on Mutations, where drinking from a drain and aluminum sunsets would not be all that out of place. Fortunately, there is another side here, a promise or a vision, which Beck describes as where "milk and honey pouring down like money." The second verse continues with the vision in a similar way. He sings of "jungle lands with the cold cola cans" and a place where "the keys to the city" are free. (That's not a good thing.) Again, the knowledge and promise of the land of "milk and honey" leaves him longing for escape. It is no longer fun "living in a garden of sleaze."

Musically, these first two verses sound heavily constructed, with a ton of synthesizers and sounds (mostly courtesy of the amazing Roger Joseph Manning Jr.) making up most of the music. There is a lot going on, and with every listen, you can find something new. The song starts heading in different directions when a heavy bass emerges along with some odd samples--"I can smell the V.D. in the club tonight" and "Excuse me, please. Would you tell me how to get to the Soviet embassy?" These characters fit the scene. The first about disease, while the second longing to get somewhere else. (Or, Beck was just being silly.)

After this, Beck starts a short rap of absurdist lyrics. It's a mix of exotic (Bangkok, Kremlin) and not-so-exotic (Arkansas) locales, as well as Beck's odd Midnite Vultures sexuality ("she's all right touching my body / she's all right selling me watches"). After that little detour, the song returns back to the original chorus. This is definitely one of Joey Waronker's best drumming performances. Some "Broken Furniture," courtesy of Tony Hoffer, leads into a lengthy and gorgeous coda starring Beck on acoustic guitar and the legendary Johnny Marr from The Smiths on electric guitar.

In one radio interview while promoting Midnite Vultures, Beck singled out "Milk & Honey" as one of his favorites from the album. "It was one of the last ones we did. It's pretty original, I think, the sound. A lot of things I do is attempts at something, and a lot of times it comes out a little bit of this and a little bit of that. But with this song, I don't know what the hell it is. It's a new kind of sound to me."

Played live 107 times:
Earliest known live version: January 25, 2000
Latest known live version: August 25, 2003

"Milk & Honey" did not have a relatively long life on stage, but Beck did play the song a good number of times.

2000-2001 Midnite Vultures tours

The live premiere of "Milk & Honey" came on January 25 2000, which was of course the very first night of the Midnite Vultures tour. Due to some earlier promotional shows, most songs from the album had already made their debut, but "Milk & Honey" had not. However, it was played at pretty much every Vultures concert after that on the tour. Beck often introduced it as a "rock 'n' roll odyssey in the key of F" (as on March 11, 2000) or something along those lines. The deep medley arrangement makes it an epic in concert, as the numerous rock grooves collide and mesh together quite naturally.

2003 Sea Change band tours

Beck did not play the song with The Flaming Lips in 2002, but added it back again in 2003. For the first time since the Vultures tours ended, Beck played "Milk and Honey" a few times on his Australia/Japan tour in March 2003. He continued with it in June 2003, playing it regularly with the new band. On June 22 2003, it was just a short version, stopping after the first two verse/choruses. Not sure if they always played a short version, or if they did more of it other nights. They did the song throughout June, but when they returned in August, it was no longer a regular. They did it 2 times and dropped it for good.

It has not been played since.