Back Streets of...
By: Beck Hansen
Written by: Beck Hansen

Back Streets of Seattle (Summer Of Love) [Live version (b)]:

SHOW #1 (August 2, 2002)

Spoken: I got some family here in Seattle. Got some connections here in Seattle. I actually got my heart broken for the first time in Seattle. I was thirteen. That's the way it goes. Walking through the back streets of Seattle with tears goin' down my face, feelin' like a man broke in half...except I was 13.

Walking through the back streets of Seattle
It was the summer of love, Los Angeles Olympics
We were watching gymnastics
Sitting on the couch and trying to sit a little bit closer
And you were staying at your grandma's house
And I was staying at my cousin's, yea for real
Hanging out on the lawn, it was cool
'Cause it stayed light until 10:30 and nobody complained
Something I wanted to say to you but I just keep forgettin'
She had a haircut just like Mary Lou Retton, yea!
That was the shit back in the day
Those dolphin shorts, yea... you remember those?
I used to wear 'em all the time
They were for girls, but you know, I liked the silkiness
Especially when the breeze blew up...yea
And she said, "Meet me over by the bushes at the house"
Now it's time we're gonna make out, yea
But she just called me back there and said
"You know, I just don't dig you"
That's when I walked all the way from 190th Street
All the way back to L.A.
And that was even about eight years before Forrest Gump came out
Yea, had the funky beard growing out by the time I got home
And a whole legion of people behind me!
Had a lot of lumberjacks running from Portland
And a couple of hippies from Humboldt
And a businessman from San Jose ay ay ay ay yea
When we got to LA, there was about 200,000 people
Back streets of Seattle
Back streets of Seattle yea yea
Back streets of Seattle
And the midnight fire burning!
Seattle attle attle attle attle attle...
Back Streets of St. Paul (Big-Ass Town) [Live version (d)]:

SHOW #5 (August 8, 2002)

Yea I got the address to the theatre right here.
I was looking for directions.
St Paul is a big-ass town!
Easy to get lost when you're out from another city, coming in
Hey Mr, if you can help me find the gig?
"No I can't, I'm busy and I gotta get back to work."
Until an old lady steps up and said "I can help you out.
Fitzgerald Theatre - around ten blocks.
Turn left, turn right, turn left, turn left, turn right and then left.
And here's the address."
So I'm walking on stage and I'm playing my jam.
About halfway through the show
I feel like playing a keyboard solo!
[plays a keyboard solo]
Back Streets of Ann Arbor (in the Key of D) [Live version (e)]:

SHOW #7 (August 11, 2002)

Detroit. And Ann Arbor!
Tension in the streets of Ann Arbor, oh yea
Violence on the streets of Ann Arbor
Shit's gettin' heavy down on the streets of Ann Arbor
Revolution in the streets of Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor. . . ah yea
Nobody knows where it's gonna go
Phoenix riding on the wind in Ann Arbor
Poignant and majestic
Back Streets of NYC (They Really Don't Give a Fuck) [Live version (g)]:

SHOW #9 (August 14, 2002)

Welcome to the New York show
It's a real important show
'Cause it's New York and it's all the people in the know
And they know if your show sucks
'Cause if it does, they really don't give a fuck
New York yea
This shit's kinda delicate, but it's real
Back Streets of DC (A Little More Delicate Than Usual) [Live version (h)]:

SHOW #12 (August 18, 2002)

This is the show in DC
A beautiful theatre with people sitting in seats
With me playing jams from the last decade
I get to play some things a little more delicate than usual
Look at me, I'm just sitting on a stool yea
We're just here watching
Back Streets of Atlanta (Strange Weather) [Live version (i)]:

SHOW #13 (August 20, 2002)

[Plays a little riff on his celeste]
That's kind of innocent, but it's also creepy. Kinda like me.

Strange weather in Atlanta, foreboding clouds in the sky
Dark lightning pouring down and the thunder and the rain
Strange weather in Atlanta and the thunder is cracking and the midnight fire is burning!
Oooh oooh oooh, oh yea Atlanta, what we gonna do now?
Storm clouds rolling and the thunder and the rain
And the heat wave, night and the sparks flying
And the drought, hurricane blowing down
Hail and the sunshine burning my eyes and the midnight fire
Is there a foreboding forecast for the times in Atlanta?
Where the sun doesn't shine but you still feel the pulse of the heat
On the street, steam coming off of the road
Atlanta, what's it gonna be? You or me or us and them or us all together?
Kick it down in ?? for a night...nobody gets out of here alive! Whoo!
'Cause the thunder and the rain and the sun is burning
And the midnight train to Georgia, whooo
No-one gets out of here alive, but me and you...who are you? I don't know!
'Cause the lightning making crazy patterns between buildings
Must be some beautiful metaphor for the glass and steel buildings and the nature coming through
There must be something poignant about tonight, just haven't figured it out
The room service looks good at the hotel, late nights at Georgia
Nobody knows if we're gonna live or die in the heat or the passion of the evening
Nothing looking good on TV
Back Streets of Austin (A Musical) [Live version (j)]:

SHOW #14 (August 22, 2002)

I'm gonna do a little Broadway musical for you. What's it about though? Maybe it'll be about the first time I came to Austin. How about that? You can't plan on a musical. A musical just has to happen, right?

I was 23, just rode into town
That Austin skyline was moving in the breeze
It was a South By Southwest Festival
My chance at the big time, yea!
A young man from the west coming in to make his name
To see his name in lights, oh yea, but something happened
Austin is a cool town, I don't know what else to say about Austin
We took a little canoe ride on Monday down in Austin

Whoa! Time to play the gig!
C'mon get your things, kid... time to play the gig
It's an industry event down at the South By Southwest
A lot of media coverage tonight
But the band was new, we just got together the week before
I didn't even know their names
We didn't actually really know how to play
We got so excited, "We're gonna play the gig!"
Gonna play the gig, oh yea, play the gig
Here's an important chord: gig gig gig
Oh shit, I forgot to learn how to play the songs
So anyway we got up... oh the place was called Emo's

Emo's, yea, that's where the gig was
A lot of high-profile people down there tonight
A lot of people checking it out to see from what I'm built from

Six minutes, six minutes!
Oh my God, it's time to play the show!
I'm so excited! Everything's gonna be different now!
Now that we're playing the show at Emo's!
Here's our big chance to put on wings of lights down at Emo's.

Johnny Cash played before us. The Man In Black.
Here he comes. You've got big hands. Let's take a picture.
Click click. Thank you. He didn't even look at me.
Got to meet The Man In Black. Yea, this is cool.


This fuckin' show's about to go off! Got so much energy tonight!
It's almost like a punk rock band, I wanna...
But we got energy and attitude and!
Everything's come to see some shit really go off.

So we got on the stage and our equipment malfunctioned within about 45 seconds
And it sounded like an absolute train wreck, it was horrible
So I decided to set my guitar on fire and just run around
Scream a bunch and knock everything over
Make it look like it was planned
That's what we were meaning to do
But I just remember people funneling out... just whoosh!
It's like we were on an airplane and somebody opened the door
And it sucked all the passengers out, their hair was like swoosh
And there were four people left and they're very drunk
And they're like "Fuck yea! It's a punk rock revolution!
Fuck those industry motherfuckers, yea!"
I thought since I had a big hit song, I could blow it off and be stupid
And we did, but only four people cared
We didn't cause much effect
Oh wait, this is a musical.

Danger! I got a little too reckless on the stage tonight!
Knocked over my microphone stand, hit a girl on the head, oh shit!
This is a true story! She had a bump on the forehead the size of a tennis ball
She looked like a mutant, looked like a mutant
It was my fault, she was scarred for life
She had a tennis ball on her forehead
It was a punk rock revolution, only four people cared
Everybody else left holding their noses

I think the review said, "There's only two words for Beck: Tommy Two-tone."
Oh yea! And so we were covered in sweat, it was one of those hot nights
One of those disoriented nights, shaken from all the violence

Violence on the stage tonight, violence on the stage tonight, too much violence

So we're coming off the stage and there's a dressing room
With a big bucket of ice in the middle and walked off
I took the bucket of ice and dropped it on my head and it exploded everywhere
And there was steam coming off of me and I opened my eyes
And there was a giant hippy guy with huge beard, huge hair, really tall
"That was the most amazing thing I've ever seen in my entire life.
That was fucking incredible. Here, I've got a coin for you."
He put a coin in my hand and I looked at it was a Free Mason's coin.
"I want you to have it." It was Gibby from the Butthole Surfers.

Gibby in the house, he gave me a five-star review
He gave me the secret society coin and now I was let into the inner circle
Of rock and roll glory, rock and roll story

So it kind of had a happy ending...lalalalalaa
We made it into the inner sanctum of the Austin rock and roll aristocracy
Talkin' about people with clowns
He gave me Satan's taco, basically, the secret ticket
Back Streets of Scottsdale (Scottsdale Revolution) [Live version (k)]:

SHOW #16 (August 25, 2002)

What's going on in Scottsdale today?
Lot of crazy things going down in Scottsdale today
Violent revolution in the streets
People marching and carrying signs
The world is changing down in Scottsdale
It's a cultural revolution, it's a sexual revolution
It's a chain store revolution, yea!
It's a revolution sponsored by Best Buy
It's a revolution sponsored by State ?
It's a revolution sponsored by Office Depot
That's the kind of revolution I'm talkin' about!
That's the kind of revolution I've been talkin' about, oh yea
And then in the sunshine everything is beautiful
What's going on in Scottsdale?
Something's going on beneath the surface
They got ?? on the sides of the freeway walls, oh yea yea
A lot of fucking handicrafts going on in Scottsdale yea yea
A lot of middle class Navajo art, yea yea
But there's something... there's the ghost of something incredible, I do have to say.  It still comes through.  There is, there is. There's something in the hills.
There's something in the hills is resounding, oh oh ohhhhhhhhh
And I still haven't figured out what it is.  That's why I can't finish this song.
I think after the show I'll have to march into the deserts and the hills and find out the answer.
But in the meanwhile, I'll have to
Rock a little bit of Staples, rock a little bit of Best Buy
Rock a little bit of TJ Maxx, yea... PF Chang's is going off!
Scottsdale is about to erupt! Ooooooooh ah
Back Streets of San Francisco (Culinary Paradise and Hip Pants) [Live version (l)]:

SHOW #19 (August 29, 2002)

I like to eat food wherever I can
I can't pass up on a meal
When I'm in San Francisco
It's a culinary paradise, mmm
What about all those hip people in San Francisco?
Where do they all come from, oh?
There's a lot of fucking hip people in this town
What's up with you? How'd you get so damn hip?
How'd you get so motherfucking hip?
Did you get some hip lessons down at the hip pharmacy?
A lot of hip motherfucking pants, San Francisco
Pants that fit real good around the thighs
And fly around at the bottom just a little bit
Where'd you get all those pants? In San Francisco
Cool pants, good food, what's not to like!?
All the necessities for existence in the modern age
In the modern age, raging against the appliance
In San Francisco
Back Streets of LA (Embarrassing Myself) [Live version (m)]:

SHOW #20 (August 30, 2002)

It's a different kind of show tonight, it's an L.A. show
Portentious clouds for the L.A. show
L.A., what can I say? Not much 'cause I live here
There's no mystery! Know any good restaurants?
'Cause I'm eatin' at the same three places week after week
L.A.'s a place where people keep to themselves
Got my car...what kind do you drive?
Might be a Hyundai, might not be one
L.A., lot of people I know in the audience tonight
Alright, I'm gonna stop this song before I embarrass myself further.
Embarrassing myself!
The Song:

OK, the "Back Streets" series of songs occured throughout Beck's solo tour of August, 2002. As Beck went from city to city, he frequently ad-libbed a little song about the city he was in. Some are sillier than others, but most are pretty entertaining. The audience loved it.

As bootlegs surface, I'll try to include as many of these songs about the cities on this page. They're not officially on the setlists or anything, but they're pretty entertaining.

Played live 13 times:
Earliest known live version: August 2, 2002
Latest known live version: August 30, 2002

Show #1 in Seattle saw Beck telling his tale of when he had his heart broken in Seattle and then he went back to L.A., Forrest Gump-style. It's actually a story he's told before, and is at least partially true. He played it on acoustic guitar. Highlighted by his rhyming of "forgettin'" with "Mary Lou Retton."

Show #5's brief song about St. Paul came in the middle of "Tropicalia."

Show #7 was up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. A killer bottleneck version of "Sissyneck" was the starting point. "Back Streets of Ann Arbor" was the ending. The Phoenix rides on the wind... in Ann Arbor.

Show #9 in NYC, was just a short little keyboard thing, welcoming people to the show (though it was after 4 songs).

Show #12's city story was really short, and not really about the city. It was on the acoustic guitar, which was different.

Show #13's improv wasn't about the streets, but the crazy thunderstorms of Atlanta.

Show #14's improv was about fifteen minutes long, and Beck attempted to write a "musical" about the first time he came to Austin. His starting point is Neil Diamond's "Coming To America," and he moves on from there. He actually changed piano riffs with each verse, like a real musical. Kevin Bacon, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Hall & Oates will be starring in the production.