Goin' Nowhere Fast
By: Beck Hansen
Written by: Beck Hansen

Versions:
  1. Goin' Nowhere Fast (Banjo Story version) (3:25)
    Available on Banjo Story.
    Credits
    Beck Hansen: Guitar (Acoustic), Vocals
  2.  
  3. Goin' Nowhere Fast (Fresh Meat version) (4:03)
    Available on Fresh Meat + Old Slabs.
 
Lyrics:
Goin' Nowhere Fast (Banjo Story version) [Version (a)]:

All the things they said would happen to you
Don't you know they're all coming true?
Goin' nowhere fast

Nothing's strange as when it seems
You're living out all your worst possible dreams
Goin' nowhere fast

Bad times, worse times, all the times in between
I stumble in my shadow, I tangle in the trees
Goin' nowhere fast

I learned my lesson and I learned it again
I heard what they said, live fast and die stupid
Goin' nowhere fast

My compass is spinning like a gambling wheel
It takes a hideous misfortune for to tell how I feel
Goin' nowhere fast

I threw it all away like shoes into the street
These terrible things will tear me in three
Goin' nowhere fast

I don't care what time will tell
Just tell me if I might as well be halfway to hell
Goin' nowhere fast

I'm sick to my skin with silence and doom
I'll break my back, I'll cry on the moon
Goin' nowhere fast

Goin' nowhere fast
 
The Song:

Looking at the two versions of "Goin' Nowhere Fast" provides an excellent example at demonstratng how Beck's skills at performing really grew, from his early experiences in the late '80s to when he was on the verge of success four or five years later.

This song initially appeared on Banjo Story, the tape Beck made way back in the late '80s. Like most of the songs on there, it's raw, but the performance is still, well, amateurish. Beck strums his guitar and shouts the vocals. A few years later, Beck put a newer version on Fresh Meat + Old Slabs, a tape he made for his mother out of his many outtakes and recordings. This version includes a bit of harmonica, a much more intricate guitar pattern, and is beautifully sung. The song is a bit slower, but more dynamic, with tempo changes near the end. The differences, and improvements, between the two tracks are striking.

Interestingly though, Beck did not change the lyrics at all in the time between the two recordings. Both performances are identical (except for a switch in the "I tangle in the shadow, I stumble in the trees" line). And why wouldn't they be? It's a unique blues lyric, original and creative. The title and chorus of "goin' nowhere fast" is a modern emotion, here combined with the old feeling of the blues. It's an excellent juxtaposition, and one which Beck has used often.

The first three verses describe the blues as perfectly as Beck has ever done. "Nothing's strange as when it seems / You're living out all your worst possible dreams" has an awful lot of wisdom packed into two lines, especially when considering Beck was around 18 when he first wrote it. Beck fills the rest of the song with descriptions of being directionless, of going nowhere fast ("My compass is spinning like a gambling wheel," "I might as well be halfway to hell"), and the blues that come with it ("It takes a hideous misfortune for to tell how I feel," "these terrible things will tear me in three").
 
Live:

No live versions of "Goin' Nowhere Fast" are known, but I can't imagine that he never played it back in the day.
 
Notes: