Song of the Day #59: ‘Lost Cause’ – Beck

It’s pretty well-established that breakup albums are often better than stuff written when the artist is loving life. Great art comes from turmoil and pain. Whether it’s Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks, Bruce Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love or Lyle Lovett’s The Road to Ensenada, heartbreak invariably results in a musician’s best work.

Beck’s Sea Change is no exception.

Beck is probably best-known for his alternative hip-hop, funk and rock-electronica (rocktronica?) stuff — songs like ‘Loser’ and ‘Where It’s At.’ And no doubt, those are great songs on great albums.

But Sea Change is something else entirely, and it’s the best thing he’s ever recorded. Awash in strings and moody keyboards, it’s a powerfully sad but sweet exploration of heartbreak. It’s also the most mature recording he’s ever made and, for my money, the album that truly elevates him to legendary status. Hipsters come and go but not many artists can deliver an emotionally resonant work of art on this level.

‘Lost Cause’ is among my favorite tracks on Sea Change. I love the ramshackle way the music surrounds the lyrics. I once read somebody describe it as the sound of a creaking ship adrift at sea and that description seems about perfect to me. And I love the sad vocals, just dripping with resignation.

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #59: ‘Lost Cause’ – Beck

  1. Amy says:

    “I’m tired of fighting … for a lost cause” – boy, he captures exactly how I felt during our discussion about James Taylor 😉

    Other than finding this song a bit boring ;-P, I can understand why you appreciate it. It certainly effectively captures a feeling of melancholy. And, yes, resignation.

    Now for my predictions… this will be a theme week of break-up songs, no? Jackson Browne’s “I’m Alive,” Billy Joel’s “A River of Dreams,” Lyle’s Ensenada? It should be a good week of depressing, angry music 🙂

  2. Dana says:

    Well, it would be easy to question how this song isn’t boring, while Taylor’s songs are, but Amy already went there:)

    For my part, since I don’t find Taylor boring, I will remain consistent and say that I don’t find this boring either:)

    i wrote about Elliot Smith demanding my attention, and I actually have similar feelings about Beck. He clearly has songwriting talent on overdrive, and I love discovering his songs as they randomly appear on my IPod (Yes, i can hear the comments coming back that my IPod can be programmed to actually play an artist or album straight through, but what would be the fun of that!)

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