When you attend a Beck concert after him being absent from the stage for four years, wouldn’t we have the right to expect,… new material? According to Rolling Stone, Beck has apparently already recorded a new album and a single for Jack White’s label, so I think it's a little strange he didn't play any new song. As I said I am not complaining about his concert on Tuesday, as I love almost everything Beck has ever written, his songs are truly unique, original, and he is probably in the top 10 of my pantheon of songwriters. You know as some artists release a few songs you really like and the rest sounds more or less the same, uninspired or redundant. But with Beck, it has always been different, each one of his songs has always been like a piece of a beautiful mosaic in constant expansion, each time you would wonder, is there something he can’t do? Is there a style he can’t absorb?
Beck’s styles are as diverse as Baskin-Robbins’ flavors and nevertheless all of them are totally his, you cannot miss a Beck song when you hear one, they all have his kid-in-a-candy-store’s magic touch, who can effortless sample, rearrange, and fool around with sounds.
I love all of them, 'Odelay' and its hippie-bluesy-noisy-rap collage, 'Mutations' and its country-Brazilian rhythms, 'Midnight Vultures' (that Beck doesn’t revisit much lately) and its dance disco-funk party-feeling and Prince’s falsetto, 'Sea Change' and its breakdown over melancholic chords that tear you apart, 'Guero' or Beck’s heartbreak recovery and return to 'Odelay’s beat collectives, 'The Information' and 'Modern Guilt' and their eclectic treasures… and the lyrics, my god, the lyrics, absurd and clever, inventive like 'In the time of chimpanzees I was a monkey', or 'Talkin' trash to the garbage around you', sometimes just incomprehensible and plain crazy.
For having attended a few Beck concerts, I know I am not the only ones being in love, so I was ready to sacrifice a few hours, arrive very early to be in the front…. Doesn’t it say how much I enjoy his music?
When you are ready to stay on line and on your two feet for close to 5 hours to see an artist, when you closely follow his career, waiting with anticipation for each of his release, you develop a sort of relationship with him. However, it has never been exactly the case with Beck as it has been with another of my other favorite songwriters. I have a relation with his music not that much with the person… because Beck is strange, Beck is an unsolved mystery, writing the most mindfucking lyrics, but also being a committed scientologist, one of the weirdest cults on the planet, with suit-people constantly asking you to try their E-meters on Hollywood boulevard!! I know we could say this of any person committed to any religion, and I consider all religions crazy but scientology is a notch above all the others; at least Christians have a wise guy named Jesus, Scientologist have creepy psychopath L. Ron Hubbard! Let me remind you that Scientologists refuse conventional medicine and believe any illness (included AIDS or cancer) is psychosomatic, a sign of weakness and failure which can only be cured by Dianetics. They also think that homosexuality is a disease and that Jesus was ‘a lover of young boys’, they glorify personal wealth and self pride, condemn charity (except for their own church) and self-criticism… not your ordinary cult.
It was Beck’s best-kept secret for a long time, despite the fact that his parents and some of his friends were Scientologists (father David Campbell is an Operating Thetan VI, mother Bibbe Hansen has reached the level OT V), that he attended a Scientology-run school, that he took Scientology courses as a teenager, and that he married a scientologist, Marissa Ribisi, who attained the state ‘Clear’ in 2001. Beck used to answer ‘No comment’ to questions related to his cult during interviews, I guess he can’t anymore, as the secret is well out.
All this shouldn’t influence how I feel about his music, but if you are asking me how I feel about him, I can only answer I have a mixed feeling, venerating the songwriter but being quite stunned by all the rest. This is a guy who even banned the message board that existed on his website! When Cosimo Beck was born, Truck Torrence, who was running Beck’s website, was instructed by Beck himself not to reveal when the baby was due or when he was born. I understand the right to privacy but a baby’s date of birth is really harmless information. Then, in May 2004, Beck closed down the fans' message board on his web site, Beck.com, without any explanation…. The internet is viewed as an enemy by scientologists
When I heard Odelay for the first time, I said to myself ‘what was that?’ and I thought it was the future of music, embracing the weird and making it immediately familiar, in one word, so cool. With his black hat over his blond hair, Beck looked cool last Tuesday, still singing ‘I'm a loser baby so why don't you kill me’,… but then you get to read stories that totally bring your enthusiasm down, stories like this one:
‘According to the Flaming Lips, Beck is the kind of guy who takes a limo and then worries about people knowing that he takes a limo. Beck is the kind of guy who worries that he is losing his hair. Beck is the kind of guy who worries about his hotel room and walks out if he doesn't like the color of the walls. Beck is the kind of guy who worries about his food and makes his crew wait around in a restaurant while he sends back his meal two or three times. Beck is the kind of guy who eventually hires his own chef or has someone in his retinue hire his own chef, because Beck is the kind of guy who leaves a lot to his retinue and winds up being a rather passive participant in his own life. More to the point, Beck is the kind of guy who makes people wait, and now, as the Flaming Lips stand onstage in Santa Barbara and wait for Beck to show up for sound check, Wayne wonders aloud if Beck is late because Beck is waiting for someone to ‘put on his pants for him,’ and then cries, to the darkened theater, ‘Put on your own pants, Beck!’
When I scream my love for Beck, I also want to scream my hate for OT-level-Beck-the-scientologist, Beck-the-diva-with-entourage, Beck-needs-two-persons-to-put-his-pants-on. Beck truly forces me to separate the art from the artist.