I decided to go for an all Beck shuffle on my iPod at the gym yesterday. As the Odelay songs popped up, I started to reminisce.
For people who have known me for a long time, they may know/remember an obsession I have had with Beck that may or may not have had a slightly creepy edge to it. I just took him really personally. And if there were things that he did that I thought were genius and you didn’t agree… well I may or may not have yelled at you in genuine anger… ahhh… my unexamined young adulthood.
I’ve calmed down a little bit. On a number of things actually, but this is about Beck. I guess it was a perfect storm, our beginnings. Sure I had heard and loved Loser in high school. But I was about 19 when Odelay came out. I on my own for the first time, smoking a lot of pot and right smack in the upswing of my experimentation with psychedelics. I remember hearing Odelay for the first time driving around with Natasha and Johanna in their little shared neon, thinking, “What the hell is this? So weird and amazing!” Sound collage. Weird sounds, familiar, robotic. And that was before people were mixing folk/rock/electronic/rap so it was just so new.
Then there was that time that we went up to Steve’s cabin up north and ate a lot of mushrooms and listened to it over and over. Natasha got sick. I lost contact with my body, became glued firmly in place to the couch, and sat there paranoid and terrified that I had peed my pants, completely out of contact with enough of reality to verify that I hadn’t until many hours later. Good lord. But throughout the whole trip, there was Odelay on repeat. And it was magnificent. Minus the peepantsparanoia.
Earlier or later that summer, we traveled to Alpine Valley to see Beck in concert. That time I’m pretty sure it was acid that swirled the experience. Beck was dressed in a rhinestone covered leisure suit, we had yellow lensed sunglasses, and some kind of little kid contraption that was like a mini kaleidoscope that made everything just a little bit more awesome. I was young and it was fun! We tried to meet Beck that day, but he had left.
I was also making a lot of art back then and I loved Beck visually. I’ve still got some pieces stashed away that maybe I will post later for inspiration. But I was obsessed with his image, the doe-eyed deadpan of it. I just thought he was so cool. He has a leg up family-wise. His grandfather was a famous artist, mom was an Andy Warhol muse (don’t get me started on Andy Warhol), so he was born into the right situation.
I guess a lot of it was the time of life, the drugs, my main interests and obsession in those days, but I absolutely adored Beck in an oddly creepy, mildly possessive and defensive kind of way. It was a perfect storm. Older, wiser, sober, I have calmed down on that and for the most part I am more on the reality based side now 🙂
But Odelay is still a hell of an album. Still genius.