Satan Gave Me A Taco
By: Beck Hansen

Written by: Beck Hansen

  1. Satan Gave Me A Taco (3:46)
    Available on Stereopathetic Soulmanure and 1 other release.
    Beck Hansen: Banjo, Guitar (Acoustic), Producer, Vocals, Vocals (Background)
    Dallas Don Burnet: Drums
    Rusty Cusick: Engineer
    Gus Hudson: Producer
    Johnny Cashmachine: Vocals (Background)
  2. Satan Gave Me A Taco (Fresh Meat version) (2:52)
    Available on Fresh Meat + Old Slabs.
  3. Satan Gave Me A Taco (Golden Leftovers version) (3:03)
    Available on Golden Leftovers.
Satan Gave Me A Taco [Version (a)]:

Satan gave me a taco and it made me really sick.
The chicken was all raw and the grease was mighty thick.
The rice was all rancid and the beans were so hard.
I was gettin' kinda dizzy eatin' all the lard.
There was aphids on the lettuce and I ate every one.
And after I was done, the salsa melted off my tongue.
Pieces of tortilla got stuck in my throat
And the stains on my clothes burned a hole through my coat.
My stomach was a-trembling. I broke out in a rash.
I was so dry and thirsty and I didn't have no cash,
So I went and found a hose, tore off all my clothes,
Turned on the water and it shot right up my nose.
Some old lady came along and she thought I was a freak,
So she beat me with a handbag till I could hardly speak.
I was lying there naked, my body badly bruised,
In a pool of my own blood, unconscious and confused.
Well, the cops came and got me and threw me in their van.
I woke up on the ceiling and I couldn't find my hand.
They took me to the judge, his eyes a-glowing red.
The courtroom was filled with witches and the dead.
Well, the sheriff was a hellhound with fangs and claws.
The prisoners were tied up and chained to the walls.
The air was gettin' thick. The smoke was gettin' thicker.
The judge read the verdict, said, "Cut off his head!"
Well, they placed me on the altar and he raised up the axe.
My head was about to explode, when I noticed the Marshall stacks.
I noticed all the smoke machines, the cameras, and the lights,
Some guy with a microphone running around, dancing in tights.
And I noticed the crew and the band playing down below,
And I realised I was in a rock video.
So I went and joined the band and went out on tour
And I smoked a lot of heroin and I passed out in manure.
I made out with the groupies, started fires back stage,
Made a lot of money and I gave it all away.
Well, the band got killed, so I started a solo career
And I won all the awards and I drank all the beer.
I opened up a taco stand just to smell the smell,
Cooking with the devil, frying down in hell.
The Song:

Beck's most infamous song! Beck probably has many songs like this stashed away on tape somewhere, but this being especially sharp, found its way on to one of the main albums. Beck recalls where it came from, "[It] was written in that Greenwich Village story/song tradition that Arlo Guthrie represented - tongue-in-cheek." In his journal he called it "a song written over lunch in my apt kitchen in early '90s to be played possibly once at my gig that Friday at Al's Bar." He further adds, "funny how that bugger won't go away." The song was probably influenced somewhat by Hill of Beans' song "Satan, Lend Me A Dollar." Hill of Beans was Beck's friend, Steve Moramarco's band.

The earliest known recording is a solo acoustic performance, that was cut from appearing on Golden Feelings in 1993. Beck sounds young and exuberant, jamming on a loosely-strung guitar, but the song is pretty much complete. The other early version on Fresh Meat and Old Slabs isn't quite as refreshing as the Golden Feelings outtake, but it is again just Beck playing his acoustic guitar and singing solo. This performance is notable for how fast it is. Clearly, the song was fully realized in the studio for Stereopathetic where they could add all the little details like the slowed-down coda and the double-tracked vocals. These flourishes are missing when Beck sings it by himself. The lyrics for all three are basically identical.

The song is a true story, btw.

Played live 10 times:
Earliest known live version: September 1993 (unknown date)
Latest known live version: May 25, 2006

Rarely played live after 1993, though it's often requested by the audience. Even once in 1995, Beck told the audience someone asked for it, but he hadn't played it in three years!

One night, on June 18, 1996, Beck hears a request for it and quickly shoots it down: "I hear rumblings of 'Satan Gave Me A Taco'...BUT I was 12, this distant thunder, a present encroaching upon this... this song from the distant past rearing its head like some neutered specimen, like some gangrenous cash register, I can perpetrate this one."

After a point, Beck consistently resisted performing the song, which to him was nothing more than a silly little folk song. That it become such a cult favorite probably was a big surprise for Beck!

Beck started talking about the song again after a few people shouted for it on August 25 2002. "That's what it always comes to. The real reason you're all here is 'Satan Gave Me A Taco.' It's such a dumb song though!  I will admit that I wrote it because it was on my album."