Elevator Music
By: Beck Hansen

Written by: Beck Hansen

Alternate Titles:

a.k.a. One, Two

  1. Elevator Music (3:38)
    Available on The Information.
    Beck Hansen: Vocals, Vocals (Background)
Elevator Music [Version (a)]:

One, two
You know what to do
Alright mm, c'mon

I'm uptight, super-gutted
Out of the frame
I shake my leg on the ground
Like an epileptic battery man
I'm making my move
Lettin' loose like a belt
Little worse for wear
But I'm wearing it well
Tell me what's wrong
With a little grind 'n' bump?
When the stereos erupt
With a kick drum punch?
Once you do it once
Probably do it again and again
You did it before
But you're more erratic than then
And you had a rough night
And the ride's just begun
Let a little bit of this
Put the past where it's done
Don't let it hold you back
But you've already said
No dead flowers gonna grow
Till the dirt gets wet

Put the elevator music on
Pull me back where I belong
The ambulance sings along
The fly on the wall
Doesn't know what's wrong
If I could forget myself
Find another lie to tell
If I had a soul to sell
I'd buy some time
To talk to my brain cells

Gutbucket and a bottle of pain
It's like the schoolhouse lights
Will never turn on again
Till the bottom wears off
Of these high-heeled boots
The bodies all move
To some backbone roots
Everybody workin' hard
Till the yard is all clean
The dishes wash good
In the washin' machine
Now you brush your teeth
And you comb back your hair
You drive your vehicle
Like you just didn't care
And you walk into work
With the boys and the girls
And you're doin' it to death
It's the end of the world
Now there's everybody's sweatin'
Forgettin' what's on their mind
With your hand like a mirror
You can see what's inside
When you're down and out
Pounded and there's nothing that's real
It's like a plastic heart
Too amputated to feel

I got a soda can bible song
A paranoid Jumbotron
The Lord took the weekend off
The fly on the wall
Doesn't know what's wrong
If I could forget myself
I'd find another lie to tell
The bottom of an oil well
Cell phone's ringing
I could talk to my brain cell

All the dudes with banjos
Chicks with wicks
Animals with bananas
Got my hand like a mirror
You can see what's around

Na na na
Elevator Music (One, Two) [Live version (a)]:

[just the chorus, from the February 4, 2005 live version]

One, two, you know what to do
Push it on down and push it back through
Five, six, dudes and chicks
Everybody get together like burning both wicks
One, two, you know what to do
Break it on down and push it back through
Five, six, dudes and chicks
Everybody get together like burning both wicks
The Song:

"Elevator Music" began life originally as a song called "One, Two." Beck has said that the music was one of the first things they finished for The Information, way back in 2003. He took time away from those album sessions to do Guero, and then do some shows. He played "One, Two" on stage three times in early 2005. As Beck said once, "this one came out pretty easy."

However, after playing "One, Two" on stage, they continued to "chip away" at the song. In Beck's words, he got rid of the "singalong chorus" for "something a bit more reflective." (Also I believe it has something to do with the missing "three, four" lyrics from the chorus!). Both rap verses remain the same, as do the acoustic-guitar-based beats. However, the "one, two, you know what to do" chorus still shows up on The Information (in the fadeout of "Dark Star"!).

"Elevator Music" is a terrific recording, a true acoustic guitar/hiphop combo with lots of electronic flourishes, rapped verses, phat bass popping in and out, a cellphone. The "na na na" vocals buried at the end are one of my favorite moments on the album.

A lot of lyrics here indicate a feeling of searching and being at a low point. The opening lines are "I'm uptight / super-gutted / out of the frame." He's had a rough time. He's down and out, and pounded. These are strong statements, summed up with the end of the chorus: "if I had a soul to sell / I'd buy some time / to talk to my brain cell."

But instead of wallowing in such misery, Beck looks both at his surroundings and to music. Start with the first chorus: Beck is noticing all the minutia background details (elevator music, ambulance sirens, the fly on the wall). More details show up in the second verse as he tidies up the house and himself. I do not believe this attention to detail is out-of-place. Sometimes when wallowing, that's all you can do to keep yourself together--focus purely on your existence and surroundings.

And above all, you can focus on music. "What's wrong with a little grind 'n' bump when the stereos erupt with a kick drum punch?" he asks. I love how he inverted "bump 'n' grind." He's shaking a leg on the ground. He seems to be partying until his high-heeled boots wear out from all the bodies moving. Music is everywhere. This has been a recurring theme in a lot of Beck's songs from this time (Guero/Info): music as your savior. Or at least, a wonderful distraction from your worries.

Played live 12 times:
Earliest known live version: January 28, 2005
Latest known live version: April 16, 2007

Beck played the "One, Two" version live 3 times in early 2005. Then throughout 2005 and 2006, since the song was not part of Guero, it was dropped from setlists. It does show up occasionally when Beck would adlib the "one, two, you know what to do!" line.

Then at the end of 2006, The Information came out and so "Elevator Music" made it into the sets proper. However, as far as we know, they only did it 4 times. And one of those was at one of the informal bar shows they played on off-nights.

Anyway, the only version of this from 2006 I've heard is a live clip from YouTube of the October 18 show. It's not mindblowing, sounds very much identical to the record, except with a few more turntable scratches in there.