This pretty song is one Beck played here and there in 2000. It made its debut on June 16, 2000, when he was on a summer break from the Midnite Vultures touring. It is not clear when it was written, exactly, but it was a relaxing change-of-pace to hear coming after the (at times) hectic Vultures sound.
As the story goes, Beck wrote much of Sea Change very quickly after a bad break-up in mid-2000. "Creole Belle" is of similar style and theme, and made it's live debut at the same time as "The Golden Age," so I imagine that it is a part of his pile of Sea Change songs.
However, I do not know if he actually attempted to record "Creole Belle" during the actual Sea Change sessions. (Even though he wrote the songs in mid-2000, he didn't record them until March 2002.) Whether it was considered and dropped, forgotten about entirely, or attempted to record but unfinished, I do not know.
What does it sound like? It is, and I mean this in a good way, one of the least dynamic songs Beck has written. It just flows along at its own leisurely pace.
Lyrically, for the first two verses, "Creole Belle" seems to be an unabashed love song, something kind of rare for Beck. Lines like "She'll never make me feel there's something better somewhere / If there was, I wouldn't care" are Beck at his most romantic. It's an ode to that special someone. "Stay here by my side," he sings.
The final verse paints the real picture, however: he has been left lonesome, trying to deal with it. I really think this would have fit perfectly on Sea Change.
It is quite a shame that this song never made it anywhere beyond the stage.
This song was first played onstage during Beck's "secret" appearence at the Largo Club in Hollywood on June 16 2000. (He also premiered "The Golden Age" that night.) He was backed by Jon Brion on drums, Roger on piano, and Justin on bass. "Creole Belle" was definitely a highlight of the short set.
Then Beck played "Creole Belle" a few times on his short stint opening for Neil Young in September 2000. Here is the audio from one of those performances. Beautiful:
Beck then brought it out again at 3 acoustic gigs around Los Angeles in October 2000. One was at an ArtistDirect concert on October 3, 2000, which was webcast. This latter performance was exquisite. It did not take long for them to really figure the song out! The lead guitar work was especially gorgeous. This is a must-hear performance; it's not particularly different from the one above but I love the song and why not share numerous versions:
Unfortunately, the song has not lasted in Beck's repertoire.