Monday, May 15, 2006

Is that whiskey?

Living in Los Angeles back in the late 80's early 90's allowed me the privilege of seeing lots of bands before they made it...and lots that never did. One of the more successful ones was Beck. I saw and met him numerous times in very small venues. Sometimes he was hard pressed to even draw a crowd. The first time I saw him play was at an art show. We were amazed at how hilarious he was and surprised that he wasn't drawing more of a crowd. We also joked about asking to do a music video with him, but never followed through with it. Oh well.

Blue vinyl! Yummy! Here's two tracks from his first single, a split 45 with Bean.

Beck - MTV Makes Me Want To Smoke Crack REMOVED
Beck - To See That Woman of Mine REMOVED

Apparently, the second song is only available on the single and the first was re-recorded a couple of times in different styles.

Here's a bit more info from this wonderful site:

"MTV Makes Me Want To Smoke Crack"... what can I say? It's one of Beck's oldest classics. No, it is THE oldest classic. It certainly holds up with anything he's written since, in my opinion. It was Beck's first real release, as a shared single with Bean on Flipside Records. Side A included "MTV" and "To See That Woman Of Mine." (Side B was given to Bean, who was Steve Moramarco, Beck's friend of "Steve Threw Up" fame.) Later, the song would be released to bigger numbers as a b-side on the UK "Loser" single, albeit in the more novelty "lounge" version.

To the surprise of many, it's actually quite a poignant song and commentary. On the surface, it's hilarious; dig a little deeper, and it's kind of sad. A song called "MTV Makes Me Want To Smoke Crack" would have been a dumb joke and/or novelty in hands of a lesser songwriter. As it turns out, it is actually one of the more autobiographical songs Beck has ever written, which gives it a powerful depth. He wrote the song while working at a video store in the fall of 1992. It was the last job Beck would have; after being canned, he went on unemployment, busked around, and then his music began to take off. His voice on the original recording is raw and he sounds rough and broken. The lyrics match.

Beck, in an article with the London newspaper, The Independant, remembered this time of mini-mall jobs. He felt disconnected from the other employees, and one day he "realised, 'Oh my God, everyone I'm working with is imitating a sitcom.' That's why I couldn't relate to them." It is this observation which inspired "MTV Makes Me Want To Smoke Crack."

So despite the title, Beck is not just making a comment about the videos you can see on MTV. Beck is rarely that straight-forward in his lyrics. He's using MTV, where everything is perfect and perky, to contrast that with his own life experience. To that point, he had been struggling for money, trying to make it; things were rarely perfect and perky. As Beck explains it, "It’s just a stream of conscience with a dulled mind. I wrote it while I was working at a video store. It has that mini mall, video store spirit to it." Beck's brilliance is in the details of his commentary, little observances and a great humor to convey the struggle and reality vs. the dream and TV.

Running a little contest/giveaway...check it out here.


Blogger Amanda said...

great site, great idea, I'll be back!

11:29 AM  
Anonymous joshua said...

very special find, this early beck, blue vinyl.
so cool. thanks for sharing!

1:58 PM  
Anonymous almostaghost said...

Hi.. I've read your blog for awhile... thanks for linking to mine! Hooray for early crazy Beck. :)

3:19 PM  
Blogger icy_highs said...

love the vinyl. mtv makes me totally sad. its a total downer n a classic, the song.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any chance of reposting these tunes?

9:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

please please repost these songs!!

8:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can somebody please email these tracks!

1:05 PM  

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