The Information
By: Beck Hansen
Written by: Beck Hansen

  1. The Information (3:46)
    Available on The Information.
    Stevie Blacke: Cello, Esraj
    Nigel Godrich: Mix, Producer
    Beck Hansen: Vocals
    Brianna Bell: Vocals (Background)
    Elisha Skorman: Vocals (Background)
    Kimi Reichenberg: Vocals (Background)
    Sage Mears: Vocals (Background)
    Tiffani Fest: Vocals (Background)
The Information [Version (a)]:

The information is laughing at us
The ticker tape feeds the night
Looking for a lost transmission
A heaven that we left behind

When the information comes
We'll know what we're made from
And the skyline rising
Highrise eyes see through you

Say hello to a mannequin
The ghost of an automaton
The witching hour is summoning up
Armies where they don't belong

When the information comes
We'll know what we're made from
And the skyline rising
Highrise eyes see through you

She's the sister of avarice
The wife of a poisonous tide
She's the eye of a battle of storms
That sees where the atoms collide

When the information comes
We'll know what we're made from
And the skyline rising
Highrise eyes see through you
The Song:

"The Information" can be found on Beck's 2006 album of the same name. It is a clever song, with a deep pulse and clever arrangement. That pulse is the entire basis of the song, as the drumbeat and thick bass pounds almost the whole way through. On top of that, there's tons of swirly keyboards, dreamy sighs, and Beck's vocals. Beck really explored this percussion-based music on the album. Is there even any guitars on this? The music ends by breaking down into a dramatic build of the keyboards--it's like the life of the song has ended and it is ascending into another plane.

The song itself explores some philosophical ideas of which Beck has often delved. Beck has given a couple of explanations about the idea of "the information." "Information is what keeps the world turning," he explained. Another time, he said it was "the thing that occupies our minds, so we won't have to deal with silence which may make us think."

Take "The New Pollution" for starters. There he admires a woman who is able to keep the pollution out, and stays pure from the noise/static/information. This song explores more of what that information might be. The first verse describes it as a somewhat destructive force, however the choruses make clear it can lead to some discovery ("we'll know what we're made from").

The second verse compares back to "Static" on Mutations. There, "the static in your mind leaves you hollow and unkind." Here it leaves you talking to a mannequin and a robot ghost (both of which could be considered hollow and unkind).

The third verse again describes it all as a destructive force. Interestingly though, here "the information" is apparently personified as a "she."

Beck throughout his work on The Information and Modern Guilt got a little philosophical in his songwriting. Looking at this song through the lens of some of his older works shows that his philosophical side is nothing new.

Played live 29 times:
Earliest known live version: May 28, 2006
Latest known live version: December 1, 2007

Beck toured behind Guero in 2005 and 2006. Somewhere in there, he finished The Information, which didn't get released until fall of 2006. However, he did start playing some of the songs from the album earlier in 2006.

2006-2007 live versions

Beck started playing the song live in May 2006. The version sounds dead exact to the album, as the drums on the record are very live sounding anyway. It was easy to replicate. There is, however, a bit more electric guitar on the live version, as that helps recreate all the swirly sounds on the album version. Beck would occasionally use his electric guitar to make the song a bit more intense than it already is. He previewed this song on stage a handful of times only (like 4-5) in May/June 2006.

Ironically, by the time Information was coming out, Beck's touring schedule was winding down. A few times around then, Beck used "The Information" to open his shows. The song still sounds the same, though the band is definitely more at ease with it, and able to make it wilder. As the album release got closer, and then came out, Beck took to playing 'The Information" fairly regularly from August-December 2006, and then also 3 times on the Australia/Japan leg in March-April 2007.

Then, after some time off, Beck went to South America to open some shows for The Police, and 2 final live versions of "The Information" made it to those shows.

It hasn't been played since.