I was recently challenged to write a coherent analysis of a song by Beck, a man famed for his lyrical obtuseness. Since I go to a “highly selective liberal arts college” (their words, not mine) I figured this would be easy.
So I chose “Girl,” off the album Guero. Here’s my college-educated analysis:
Beck is seriously weird.
You were looking for more than that? Cut me some slack—I’m still trying to figure out how to do laundry effectively.
The best I can tell, “Girl” is, indeed, about a girl. It’s almost certainly a love song, but this is a rather unconventional love. The girl, who has “a black tongue tied round the roses” and carries a “noose,” is obviously into some pretty kinky stuff. The song’s narrator knows this girl will be no good for him (“my cyanide girl”), but he’s drawn to her in spite of it. He admits that there’s “nothing that [he] wouldn’t try,” so he’s obviously willing to go along with whatever crazy thing she’s into.
It’s the same old story really: Romeo and Juliet, Samson and Delilah. Baby you can bet, a love they couldn’t deny.
He attempts to put himself in her dark outlook (“And I know I’m gonna make her die/And take her where her soul belongs”), and ultimately succeeds, despite all the happy major chords and boppy synth lines that characterize the track. The greasy slide guitar break at 2:22 is excellent, and serves as a metaphor for the character’s own slide into a new mindset that evidently explores all the possibilities of the phrase “a midnight hanging.”
So there—a mildly coherent analysis in about 300 words. I was going to analyze “Loser,” but the philosophical implications of the line “gettin’ crazy with the cheez whiz” were too weighty for my tiny brain to handle.