I've Seen the Land Beyond
By: Beck Hansen

Written by: Beck Hansen

  1. I've Seen the Land Beyond (1:38)
    Available on One Foot In The Grave.
    Beck Hansen: Guitar (Acoustic), Producer, Vocals, Vocals (Background)
    Calvin Johnson: Producer
I've Seen the Land Beyond [Version (a)]:

From these shores where we belong
I have seen the land beyond
Where the Lord is strange and strong
I have seen the land beyond
There's no telling who'll be dead
When the pale horse is turning red
And the tongues will burn in vain
And then everything will be the same
There's no patience, there's no peace
I have seen the land beyond
Where the gravestones never cease
I have seen the land beyond
Through the troubles of the years
The heavenly apparition appears
And we're haunted by our minds
And the spirit comes in disguise (with no eyes)
From these shores where we belong
I have seen the land beyond
I'll be there and I'll be gone
I have seen the land beyond
The Song:

"I've Seen the Land Beyond" is a quick, lo-fi, yet fairly forgettable blues recording. Beck duets with himself on tape, which is where most of the charm of the song comes from. It sounds and reads like it is an old blues meditation on dying and the apocalypse.

Completely out of the blue, Beck was asked about this song in an interview. He recalled, "It was done in 2 minutes and it was a Carter Family-esque thing I had written out somewhere, I have no idea. . .and I was just flipping through my notebook and recording songs as fast as I could put them down. When we went to collect the entrails of the music we'd recorded, sort of take stock—that was one of the tunes that stuck out. It has a sort of respect/disrespect ratio for old-timey music that I think. . .it works. But it's not trying to maximize the past, but it's not ruining the past with some new-fangled approach."

That gives a wonderful impression of how he recorded for One Foot! But it seems Beck too did not exactly know where he got the song/idea. I've seen reports/biographies which call the song a Mississippi John Hurt one, but that doesn't seem to be the case to me.

Regardless, what Beck has written here is very pure, in the language of the past. This _could_ be a Carter Family track, or a preacher gospel song. It talks of the afterlife, both heaven and hell, of a Lord "strange and strong" and Satan decimating everyone. There are no modern twists here, no break of character. Really nice song, underrated.