Diamond Bollocks
By: Beck Hansen

Written by: Beck Hansen

  1. Diamond Bollocks (6:00)
    Available on Mutations and 2 other releases.
    Justin Meldal-Johnsen: Bass (Electric), Vocals (Background)
    Joey Waronker: Drums, Percussion
    John Sorensen: Engineer
    Nigel Godrich: Engineer, Mix, Producer
    Beck Hansen: Guitar (Electric), Producer, Vocals, Vocals (Background)
    Roger Joseph Manning Jr.: Harpsichord, Synthesizer, Vocals (Background)
Unofficial Versions: [show/hide]
  1. Diamond Bollocks Flipped
    Available on Breaks & Beats.
    Panzah Sandahz: Remix
Diamond Bollocks [Version (a)]:

Looking back at some dead world that looks so new
Offices and fountains that they named for you
Dazzlements of accidents, rejoice their doom
Hari-karis spinning 'round the golden looms
Girl, you dream infections from the nauseous heart
Choice cut meats from derelict boulevards

Hear that lonesome whistle blow
No direction to be known in a senile revelry
A tearful gaze turns away, emoting cold and grey
Scented eunuchs clothe our wretchedness

Looking back at some dead world that looks so new
Offices and fountains that they named for you
So ungrateful to the who's-and-what's-his-face
Perilous confections look so out of place

Looking back at some dead world that looks so new
Looking back at some dead world that looks so new
Looking back at some dead world that looks so new
Looking back at some dead world that looks so new
The Song:

Beck explained this amazing recording's inspiration when he was on KCRW in 1998:

["Diamond Bollocks"] happened because we'd been in [the studio] about 10 days, I think, doing all these waltzes and dirges and all these 3/4 songs. And I came into the lounge and everybody was watching these acid rock videos, Justin and Roger and everybody were. I think we all just needed to rock out for a minute because we'd been, like I said, in the slow lane for awhile. And the studio is fairly sedentary and we needed to get our cockles warm, just kinda kick it into gear a little bit.

Later Beck described the process with a little more detail. "We literally, in one night, recorded eight songs, then took the 24-track tapes and cut them all up on a tape and created this crazy song. It was more about the process than the actual song, but I ended up liking the song too," he explained.

And what a fantastic recording it is! The band wanted a change of pace, and they sure got it. Opening with a little carnival beat, which in a way predicts the whirlwind pace and structure about to follow, the song blasts off. The gallimaufrey goes something like this:

So if this was literally 8 songs combined (that seems slightly high hyperbole to me), I guess they could include "Dead World," "Megaboob," "Erase The Sun," and "scented eunuchs" sections.

Lyrically, the song is a dazzling mix of creative phrases, probably just spun together randomly. In 1995, Beck recorded a b-side called "Erase the Sun" which included a number of these lines and phrases, such as "choice cut meets from derelict boulevards," "dazzlements of accidents," "hari-karis," "spinning round the golden looms," and "offices and fountains they named for you."

The initial idea was to put the song as track two on Mutations, but Beck changed his mind and moved it (on American versions of the album) to be a hidden track at the end of the album. He explains, "It's part of the record, but it's like the wayward son at the Thanksgiving dinner who just doesn't really fit in with the family anymore, is the black sheep. So you put him at the end of the table..."

Over the years, Beck has on occasion returned to "Diamond Bollocks" on stage a few times. It's never been played a lot, but a few times in 2006, once more in 2012. Beck drops a lot of his old songs completely, but "Diamond Bollocks" seems to be a song and recording of which he is proud, an ambitious, over-the-top, and fun track.

Played live 23 times:
Earliest known live version: May 17, 1998
Latest known live version: June 15, 2022

Beck has played "Diamond Bollocks" live in a couple of spots over the years, but not as part of any of the main tours.

Summer 1998 - pre-Mutations tour

The first tour after the recording sessions for Mutations was a short world tour in May/June, 1998. The album was not released until November, but Beck and band could not resist bringing out some of the new gems: "Diamond Bollocks" included! It was not played regularly, or too often after that, really, but there were around 8 performances in May and June 1998.

On June 6, 1998, in Saratoga, NY, Beck introduced the song by saying "Alright, now we're gonna step into some experimental shit. It's a little rock and roll odyssey called 'Diamond Bollocks.' I hope you're all with it. If you're not, then just eat a hot dog." He sounded a little nervous about freaking out the audience with this strange new song, but he should be because it is even wilder and freakier on stage. The harpsichord intro was converted into a part for the Brass Menagerie. The main riff was a bit sluggish, not as sharp as the record, which gave the performance a lazier feel. Joey Waronker, as usual, was a madman on the drums. The "lonesome whistle" verse was surreal and beautiful, with echoed vocals and cool effects.

1999 Mutations tours

Beck did not tour much behind Mutations, but did do a short string of shows in Japan in April 1999. "Diamond Bollocks" was a part of that tour, played at 7 of the 8 shows (all but the final night). Beck introduced it again as a "little odyssey" on April 19, 1999, in Tokyo. This version seemed a bit closer to the record than the previous one I discussed. I like the way Beck sang it too--sort of mumbling, drawling, half-spoken, like he's asleep. It's a truly fascinating song, all things considered.

2006 Information tours

The song was dropped after that, until the end of 2006, when it was played once in September 2006 at a warm-up show in LA before going on tour. Then they went on tour and didn't play it again, except at one of the post-show shows in a bar in Toronto. Can't imagine how rowdy that version might have been!

2011-2013 pre-Morning Phase tours

In this time period, Beck toured sporadically, returning to the road after a few years away. The tours were generally nostalgic in nature. The band gave "Diamond Bollocks" one shot at a show in Oregon on May 27, 2012. It was in the encore, alongside an equally surprising "Mutherfuker," but they gave up on "Diamond Bollocks" immediately, never playing it again. It has not yet returned.