I Get Lonesome
By: Beck Hansen

Written by: Beck Hansen

Versions:
  1. I Get Lonesome (2:49)
    Available on One Foot In The Grave.
    Credits
    unknown: Drums
    Beck Hansen: Guitar (Acoustic), Vocals
    Calvin Johnson: Vocals
  2. I Get Lonesome (Deluxe version) (1:56)
    Available on One Foot In The Grave.
    Credits
    Beck Hansen: Drums, Guitar (Acoustic), Vocals
 
Lyrics:
I Get Lonesome [Version (a)]:

Well, there ain't nobody left to impress
And everyone's kissing their own hands
There's 6-6-6 on the kitchen floor
There ain't no fire in the pan
I get lonesome, I get lonesome
I get lonesome, I get lonesome

So glad to be a slab
Stiff as a stick on a board
I get thoughts and dirty socks
Piled in the corner
I get lonesome, I get lonesome
I get lonesome, I get lonesome

Gettin' fat on your own fear
Bring that beer over here
I stomp on the floor
Just to make a sound
I get lonesome, I get lonesome
I get lonesome, I get lonesome

Oooh oooh
I Get Lonesome (Deluxe version) [Version (b)]:

Well, there ain't nobody left to impress
And everyone's kissing their own hand
There's 6-6-6 on the kitchen floor
There ain't no fire in the pan
I get lonesome, I get lonesome

So glad to be a slab
Stiff as a stick on a board
I get thoughts and dirty socks
Piled in the corner
I get lonesome, I get lonesome

Gettin' fat on your own fear
Bring that beer over here
I stomp on the floor
Just to make a sound
I get lonesome, I get lonesome

Oooh oooh
 
The Song:

"I Get Lonesome" is an interesting and somewhat odd duet. Beck and Calvin Johnson's voices could not be more different, and the simplicity of the music heightens their contrast. The guitar and drums are effective in their simplicity as well.

Still it is one of the more noteworthy of Beck's early songs: the lyrics are often memorable, and encompass a number of different themes. In many ways, it could be seen as a portrait of the artist as a young man. "I stomp on the floor just to make a sound" is a perfect expression of Beck's own philosophy of music making at the time, as well as a nod to the blues where acoustic Delta bluesmen often stomped along.

The first verse feels like it was left out of "Cyanide Breath Mint," a similarly cynical and frustrated look at a music business where "everyone's kissing their own hands." The struggle is touched on with the "thoughts and dirty socks / piled in the corner."

The ease of which Beck expresses and handles all this are a joy. I love it! Some lines are awkward, sure, but the spirit is there. This song if anything absolutely embodies the whole One Foot In The Grave/K Records mentality.

In 2009, Beck released a Deluxe version of One Foot. One of the bonus tracks was an alternate version of "I Get Lonesome." I am guessing that this was a demo of the song. While the lyrics are the same, the choruses are shorter (two "I get lonesome"s instead of four), and Calvin Johnson does not sing on it. Also Beck did not really play any bridges between the verses, nor that little humming/strumming middle section. Otherwise, the song is fairly well created as we know it. Beck had probably had the song around for awhile.
 
Live:

Played live 21 times:
Earliest known live version: March 24, 1994
Latest known live version: August 22, 2000

There were never a lot of "I Get Lonesome"s on stage, but it did show up from time to time.

Mellow Gold Dirty Socks versions

The earliest live version we know is from a record store performance in March, 1994. Beck's second guitarist adds some trippy electric guitar riffage and a nice little solo in the middle, but otherwise it sounds as mellow as usual.

A few days later, Beck played the song by himself on acoustic guitar. The song is kind of boring without the drums and second voice, though the lyrics are messed with a bit. Beck sings "I get toasted / I get crusty / I get jacuzzis" during the second chorus, while the third verse goes something like:
Well, there ain't nobody left to depress and everybody's gettin' cut down
I get thoughts and dirty socks and thoughts and thoughts and dirty socks
I get toasted, I get crunchy, I get digital, I get ???
I get stereo confetti, I get happy, I get hairless


Some more performances of "I Get Lonesome" came during Beck's US club tour in late 1994. On October 28 1994 in New Haven, CT, the song was part of his acoustic set. The crowd was really noisy and rowdy, forcing Beck to stop for a bit. Beck tried to counter the crowd noise with a one-note guitar solo, but it did not really work. So he went off on a bit of a tangent. He stopped playing guitar for this last spoken, improvised verse:
Price to pay, dig your own grave, sad as the sad could be
Hollow log, you bent all the smog, you can't tread what you see
I get lonesome, I get lonesome
The sound comes down, the blues shoots fierce
Pierces their ears so they grab their beards
And step right back into the vacuum
Surviving the hive, stingers in your thighs
You got to ride, sucker, ride
You get lonesome, you get lonesome
And it's one cold dust, one handful of smoke
Pull back the joke, the joke's on you
The sad but true comes easily
[these last 2 lines are the first lines of "Glut" - ed.]
Look down your sleeve, the devil will greive
And you're a dead man
Well, shoot it straight off from your fingertips
There's a laser beam, your blood's in your ?
Take what you can, surface it up
Scrape up the fat, the fat and all


Ain't Nobody Left To Impress sporadic Odelay tour versions

There were a handful of versions of the song appeared throughout the Odelay tours. The version of "I Get Lonesome" on March 18, 1996 is one of my favorites. It was quite straight-forward, pretty much the same three verses as you know on the record, though it was just Beck and an acoustic guitar. But Beck's guitar-playing really added some tension to the song, as he would hang on one note for awhile.

One band version of the song was at the El Rey "country" show on November 19 1997.  It was highlighted by a wonderful pedal steel bridge in the middle.

Stick On A Board version - Vultures tour

Beck played the song 4 times during his Midnite Vultures tour. Two of them were in the usual acoustic set in the middle of his show. The other two were at special shows where the whole set was acoustic. One of these, on July 2 2000, was a festival in southern California, and was in the middle of a month-long vacation from the hectic Vultures tour. So Beck and his band took the chance to play some rare songs. The "I Get Lonesome" did not have the same lo-fi charm; that pulsing, simple guitar riff was not in the new arrangement. The guitars chimed, keyboards rang (sounding like a xylophone), and even The Brass Menagerie joined in. The song has matured immensely to this point. Or maybe Beck has.

Similarly, the August 22, 2000 show's "I Get Lonesome" is pretty great. I like the thundering drums, they make the song more dramatic. This show was set up as two halves, one rocking, one acoustic.

The song has not been played since!