Song of the Day #3,929: ‘Hotwax’ – Beck

‘Hotwax,’ the second track on Beck’s breakthrough 1996 album Odelay, sums up the genre-busting weirdness of that album quite nicely.

This song mixes a blues guitar riff with hip-hop beats, rapped lyrics and a Spanish-language chorus, and emerges as something wholly unique. Or at least as unique as everything else on Odelay, which is full of sonic mind-fucks like this.

What impresses me the most about Beck is his range. I can’t decide what I like better, this sort of thing or the acoustic elegance of Sea Change and Morning Phase. Polar opposites, stylistically, yet he does both so well.

[Verse 1]
It takes a backwash man
To sing a backwash song
Like a frying pan when the fire’s gone
Driving my pig while the band’s taking pictures in the grass
And my radio smashed
And I like pianos in the evening sun
Dragging my heels ’til my day is done
Saturday night in the captain’s clothes
Tender horns blowing in my jury ‘fros

Yo soy un disco quebrado
Yo tengo chicle en el cerebro

[Verse 2]
I can’t believe my way back when
My Cadillac pants going much too fast
Karaoke weekend at the suicide shack
Community service and I’m still the Mack
Shocked my finger, spots on my hand
I been spreading disease all across the land
Beautiful air-conditioned
Sitting in the kitchen
Wishing I was living like a hit man
Face down in the guarantees
Jaundiced honchos getting’ busy with me
Because I get down I get down
I get down all the way

Yo soy un disco quebrado
Yo tengo chicle en el cerebro

[Verse 3]
Sawdust songs of the plaid bartenders
Western Unions of the country westerns
Silver foxes looking for romance
In the chain-smoke
Kansas flashdance ass pants
And you got the hotwax residues
You never lose in your razor-blade shoes
Stealing pesos out of my brain
Hazard signs down the Alamo lanes
Radar systems piercing the souls
You never get caught with the wax so rotten
All my days I got the grizzly words
Hijacked flavors that I’m flipping like birds

Yo soy un disco quebrado
Yo tengo chicle en el cerebro

Who are you?
I’m the enchanting wizard of rhythm
Why did you come here?
I came here to tell you about the rhythms of the universe….

One thought on “Song of the Day #3,929: ‘Hotwax’ – Beck

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    Beck is unquestionably a genre bending talent, but, for some reason, I’ve never really warmed to his music. For me, his work is something more to be appreciated than loved.

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