Song of the Day #526: ‘Volcano’ – Beck

Beck’s most recent album, 2008’s Modern Guilt, was his last required CD to fulfill his contract with Interscope Records. unlike athletes, who usually play their best when they’re in the final year of a contract (to better their chances of cashing in on the next one), musicians often release an album of filler to get free from the corporate reins.

Beck didn’t go so far as to release an album of B-sides or live performances but Modern Guilt does feel muted and lacking in inspiration. Even so, it received mostly positive reviews and holds together well enough as a collection of songs, just not as an album with a vision or purpose.

I do like several of the songs on this album quite a bit, including the surf-rock stomp ‘Gamma Ray’ and a too-short little stunner called ‘Walls.’ The song that sticks with me the most, though, is the languid album closer ‘Volcano,’ not so much for the music as the lyrics. This strikes me as one of the most honest and effective lyrics Beck has ever written, start to finish. I’d recommend reading it before even hitting play.

I’ve been walking on these streets so long
I don’t know where they’re going to lead anymore
But I think I must have seen a ghost
I don’t know if it’s my illusions that keep me alive

I don’t know what I’ve seen
Was it all an illusion
All a mirage gone bad
I’m tired of evil
And all that it feeds
But I don’t know

I’ve been drifting on this wave so long
I don’t know if it’s already crashed on the shore
And I’ve been riding on this train so long
I can’t tell if it’s you or me who’s driving us into the ground

I don’t know if I’m sane
But there’s a ghost in my heart
Who’s trying to see in the dark
I’m tired of people who only want to be pleased
But I still want to please you

And I heard of that Japanese girl who jumped into the volcano
Was she trying to make it back
Back into the womb of the world

I’ve been drinking all these tears so long
All I’ve got left is the taste of salt in my mouth

I don’t know where I’ve been
But I know where I’m going
To that volcano
I don’t want to fall in though
Just want to warm my bones
On that fire a while

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #526: ‘Volcano’ – Beck

  1. Dana says:

    Interesting song, but a bit too maudlin in tone for my taste.

  2. Amy says:

    I like the sound of this one. At least at first. Then it starts droning on a bit. Still, not bad for a throwaway album 😉

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