Pay No Mind (Snoozer)
By: Beck Hansen
Written by: Beck Hansen

Alternate Titles:

a.k.a. Pay No Mind

Versions:
  1. Pay No Mind
    Available on We Like Folk... Who Cares... Destroy Us and 1 other release.
  2. Pay No Mind (Interlude Clip)
    Available on Don't Get Bent Out Of Shape.
  3.  
  4. Pay No Mind (Snoozer) (3:14)
    Available on Mellow Gold and 3 other releases.
    Credits
    Beck Hansen: Bass, Guitar (Acoustic), Harmonica, Vocals
    David Harte: Drums
    Rob Schnapf: Producer
    Tom Rothrock: Producer
  5. Pay No Mind (Snoozer) (2:59)
    Available on Mellow Gold.
 
 
Lyrics:
Pay No Mind (Snoozer) [Version (c)]:

Tonight the city is full of morgues
And all the toilets are overflowing
There's shopping malls coming out of the walls
As we walk out among the manure
That's why I pay no mind, I pay no mind, I pay no mind

Give the finger to the rock and roll singer
As he's dancing upon your paycheck
The sales climb high through the garbage pail sky
Like a giant dildo crushing the sun
That's why I pay no mind, I sleep in slime, I just got signed

So get out your leadpipe pipe dreams
Get out your ten-foot flags
The insects are huge and the poison's all been used
And the drugs won't kill your day job, honey
That's why I pay no mind, I pay no mind, I pay no mind

That's why I pay no mind, pay no mind, pay no mind
I pay no mind, pay no mind, pay no mind
Pay No Mind (Snoozer) [Version (d)]:

Tonight the city is full of morgues
And all the toilets are overflowing
There's shopping malls coming out of the walls
As we walk out among the manure
That's why I pay no mind, I pay no mind, I pay no mind

Somebody burned down the picnic
Somebody kissed their own ass by mistake
The cliches are turning into people
With a greeting card glued to their face
That's why I pay no mind, pay no mind, pay no mind

Give the finger to the rock and roll singer
As he's dancing upon your paycheck
The sales climb high through the garbage pail sky
Like a giant dildo crushing the sun
That's why I pay no mind, I sleep in slime, I just got signed

So get out your leadpipe pipe dreams
Get out your ten-foot flags
The insects are huge and the poison's all been used
And the drugs won't kill your day job, honey
That's why I pay no mind, I pay no mind, I pay no mind

That's why I pay no mind, pay no mind, pay no mind
I pay no mind, pay no mind, pay no mind
 
Pay No Mind (Rambler) [Live version (a)]:

[from August 2, 2002 - "One Pinkie to Freedom Version"]

This is the D-chord right here. Lot of people don't know that the chord of D is the most perfect classic rock chord, because it very easily does this... it's just one little pinkie to freedom. Taste the glory right there.

I wrote this song about 10 years ago and I just realized recently that right around that time, there was another song. And you know how sometimes songs come out, sort of unconscious, maybe you just heard the song passing from a car late at night. It went in there somewhere and it enters in to your song. And so I realized that this song that I wrote ten years ago was actually:


I'm free, free-fallin'!
Yea I'm free fall, free-fallin'!

But somehow my song didn't have that much freedom in that. There was a little bit of a chain-link vibe going on to it. That's why I've added this little ending to the song, just to tap into some...

Freeeeee! That feels really fucking good.
Free-fallin'! Yea yea yea


[from August 11, 2002 - "Days of '92 Version"]

Right now, I'd like to take you back to the early '90s. Feelin' a little nostalgiac.


When the grunge was young, yea yea
What was going on then? Paula Abdul?
Paula Abdul was working in the sun yea yea
In the days of '92
Back in the days of '92 yea yea
Born in the '90s yea!
Nobody had any clothes that fit them
'Cause it wasn't cool to wear anything tight
Back in the days of '92, yea!

[Then Beck sang two verses of "Pay No Mind"]

This was a protest song, written in a time when there wasn't a lot to protest. So you just kinda protested whatever was there. 99-cent stores and 98-cent stores. 97-cent stores. I was personally protesting flourescent lighting at the time.


Lot of hard times in the protest days of '92
Down at the rally, oh yea!
People making a stand for something they believe in
Back in the days of '92!
And then the cops came to the rally in '92
And the riots broke out and the city was on fire
Protest singers running for their lives
Fucking harmonica holders whacking them in the face
That's the price you gotta pay
Standing in the protest line, yea!

People running up and down, up the streets through the city...back in '92!
Helicopters flying and ? coming down in the city back in '92
But over in the valley, things were looking pretty nice
Tom Petty sitting in his house Encino estate
Playing some shit that sounded like this:

I'm free! Free-fallin'! Encino! Free-fallin'!
Fucking feels good to sing it like that
Back in the days of '92


[from August 18, 2002 - "Brilliant Marketing Idea version"]

[Beck tells the usual story about the rallies and protest singing and when you run from the cops, the harmonica holder hits you in the face.]


Protest singing business is dangerous
Got 17 bruises up and down my face
Seems like the protest singers paying the biggest price of all
No nose like a protest-singer nose
Back in the days of '92, yea
Back in the days of '92 when the shit was goin' down
99-cent store open up next to the 97-cent store
That was a brilliant marketing idea
Just sell your shit 2 cents cheaper
Everybody's gonna come over here
Violent revolution at the 99-cent store
We're not gonna pay 2 cents more
That's when they call in the protest singers
"We will not pay two cents more, no no!"
Tom Jones said, "We will not be moved, two cents"
Paid some dues on the protest singing


[from November 16, 2002 - "Brilliant Marketing Idea version"]

[two normal verses of 'Pay No Mind']

This song is a song, written back in the '90s
Back in the early '90s
Back in the days of '91
It was a protest song
Written in the time when there wasn't a whole lot to protest
But you know, there was different things goin' on
Different rallies and things
And you needed a folksinger on hand to make it legitimate
So it was written in the key of D
Which is a great key for protesting

The other great thing about the chord D
Is if you play it just right
One little pinkie away from freedom
[plays chord]
That's high impact freedom right there
That's something I learned out at the
Folksinging Protest Institute Of Technology
One of the thigns they don't teach you though
Is when you're down at the rally and the riot cops show up
And there's confusion and the cops pull out their clubs
ANd people are running in different directions
And there's smoke and cars are burning
People are running for their lives
Folksingers running, their harmonica holder fucking up their faces
Being a folksinger is never easy
It's the price you have to pay!
To be free!
Free! Free-fallin'!
Tom Petty knew a little something about freedom
Yesterday I woke up late, had a little thing down at the hotel
Had a little steam room, see a guy out the corner of my eyes
Had a couple of barbells pumpin' it up
It was the keyboard player for Tom Petty
He asked me if I knew a little something about freedom
Said I did
I'm free! Free-fallin'!
Yes I'm freeeeeeee! Free-falliiiiiiiiiiiiiin!
 
The Song:

"Pay No Mind" is a classic. It's an old one too. . .Beck says he first wrote it when he was 18 or 19. (This is backed up by many of his introductions to the song, like the one on February 10, 1997 as a "a power ballad from 1989". While on the radio on June 16, 1996, he called it a "teenage song.") Musically, it's usually a simple folk song, but for Mellow Gold, Beck filled it out with a band. It also includes his finest recorded harmonica solo, simple and understated. But it's one of the more ever-changing songs he has. . .lyrics and verses get switched up, added, and improvised all the time. There is even a re-recorded electric version (with different lyrics) called "Got No Mind."

And while Beck has said the song originally had like ten different verses, what is on the record has been edited down into a cohesive theme: Beck's harsh portrayal of the music business, and decision to join a major label. The first verse is a critical blasting of commercialism, though it is not yet focused on the music business. There's a lot of "manure" being sold, and bought. That's why you've got to "pay no mind."

The next verse moves into the music business specifically. One can imagine Beck, in his dealings with major labels, being shown sales graphs of "successful" artists that look like a "giant dildo crushing the sun." Perhaps Beck received some criticism for joining a major label, or his decision was at odds with some artistic ideals. In the long run, he's just going to ignore the philosophical contradictions in joining the big corporate machines, and the second and third verses are his reasons why. It's interesting that Beck felt the need to explain or defend himself here, but he reaffirms his decision by acknowledging the bad side ("Give the finger to the rock and roll singer / As he's dancing upon your paycheck"), but realizing some of the good.

The third verse confirms he's been looking for an escape or, at least, a change ("The insects are huge and the poison's all been used / And the drugs won't kill your day job"). As Beck said on September 1, 1996, "I'm gonna send this one out to the anti-folk situation that was happening when I first went to New York. Probably in '88 or something. Take it back to '88! This song came out of that time. Livin' good." I'm sure this song accurately portrays his situation at the time.

As mentioned earlier, Beck has stated that the song has numerous other verses. This is most likely true, as in most live performances of the song, he rarely sings the song as he did on record. (He turned three alternate verses into "Got No Mind.") Most of the time Beck adlibs new lyrics and verses, and I will try to compile and discuss as many of them that I can.
 
Live:

Played live 140 times:
Earliest known live version: July 23, 1993
Latest known live version: July 28, 2013

Live "Pay No Mind" fluctuates between Beck playing it alone or with a band, electric or acoustic, lyrics like the record or improvised. It's these changes which make the song so enjoyable. Interestingly, with some cool exceptions, it's pretty much always three verses long -- you just don't know which verses you're going to get!

Beck did a completely absurd interview on Modern Rock Live on the radio in February 1994 to promote Mellow Gold. Among his spinning wild tales and flat out lying to the hosts, he answered phone calls and did a live version of "Pay No Mind." Of course, he completely improvised seven verses, somewhat commenting on the mindlessness of these types of interviews (among other things!). He seems to be self-referencing the radio studio, the hosts, the fans calling in with questions, everything. Beck is brilliant:
Tonight the city is full of radios and all the distortion pedals are melted
There's Sonic Youth posters nailed up onto the ceiling
And the roof is falling down onto my brain
That's why I got no mind, I got no mind

Somebody burned down the picnic, and somebody kissed their own ass by mistake
And the cliches are getting eaten up by the termites with the malt liquor
With the guitar tuners and the Pussy Galore song
That's why I play all night, I got no mind

Well the big radio sound is pumping up and down, jumping through the hoops
Making every motion seem like forever
There's air conditioning and brand new nails and phone calls from people in Chicago
That's why I pay no mind, got no mind, stay outside

So turn up the levels and talk to your devils and bust out your tennis shoes and your mayonnaise
It's all the situations and all the celebrations and all the contaminations
They make you breath off the carpet
And that's why I pay no mind, got no mind, [coughs] might need a cough drop

Well there's verses and sounds falling like
Pounds and pounds of sand weights from the heavens
And she dangles like a bottle, talking through the steering wheels and broken pantyhose
That's why I pay no mind, sleep in slime, put out CDs

The amplifiers are amplifying the things that you never knew
Could ever be the same as you
There's wires and plugs and slugs slithering out into the paint thinner
That's why I pay no mind, I pay no mind, got no mind

Your swivel chairs and sunglasses and your fully blown-out scenes of ecstasy
Turn up the volume and the treble
And call 'em all the nasty things that you can stick into your paper with your pen
Shove your pen up into the air, write everything like you just don't care
But it feels good when you pull off the scenery
And there's puppets and dollar bills and there's weight loss pills
And there's cherries and potato chips and the time is running low
There's nowhere else to go, so let's go down
6-6-6 up into, I'm raising all my lows and I'm lowering all my disappointments
More promotion of Mellow Gold led Beck to play on 120 Minutes, the alternative-rock show on MTV. While there, he played a beautiful "Pay No Mind." It's the only version of this song, I think, I've ever heard where Beck fingerpicks his guitar, instead of strums. Lyrically, not much is different, except the first and last lines have bits of other songs in them. The first line is "Tonight the city is totally lame, everything's uptight and perky," which borrows from "MTV Makes Me Want To Smoke Crack." The last line is "The insects are huge and the poison's all been used / And saw them kiss their own ass by mistake."

Another new verse, September 1 1994: "Give the finger to the folksinger, it soundds like you got a wedding gown / A nervous bride ready to collide with the sound / Of the sun taking over to the moon."

The band plays "Pay No Mind" on November 28 1994. It's a full electric version, and he flipflops between "got" and "pay no mind." As usual, he adapts his "give the finger" line to "Give the finger to the dishwasher, cleaning all the plates." He ends the song with "The drugs won't kill your shopping list."

The second verse on December 1 1994 is sort of new:
Give the finger to the folk singer, I'm sure he'll appreciate it deeply
'Cause where there's smoke and there's grease and your hand's on the lease
Receipt is burned, receipt, it's repetition
The second verse on July 28 1995 is again ripe for some improvising.
Give the finger to the folk singer, ??? burns out words
Sales ridin' low through the garbage pail glow
Down below where the winos froze
At the Bridge School Concert on October 28 1995, it is now:
Give the finger to the rock and roll singer as he's dancing down on your meal ticket
The sale ride low through the garbage pail glow
Down below through the ghetto-blasting sun
The last two lines about the "garbage pail glow" and the "ghetto-blasting sun" appear on most live versions after 1995, actually.

Beck has fun with "Pay No Mind" on July 21 1996. The whole show, he's talkative, giving speeches about the sea and dropping anchor in Holland and things. He's got such a way with words! So when he gets to "Pay No Mind," he changes the lyrics some more. The "give the finger line" is tonight "so give the finger to the ship captain / As he's pulling up, hoisting up the main sail." Beck's on top of it!

During the Odelay tours of 1996 and 1997, "Pay No Mind" was generally performed as a full band arrangement. It's not folky like on Mellow Gold, or grungy like "Got No Mind," but more a smooth soft rock tune. Beck's harmonica solo is the highlight, usually, and Beck doesn't really improvise with the lyrics so much anymore.  For some reason, Beck has serious trouble with the lyrics on August 5 1997. The band arrangement is cool though, I'm really digging this arrangement.

Beck gives the finger to yet another folksinger on February 10 1997: "So give your finger to the folksinger / A wide array of 18th-century balladry of Scottish descent."

After the Odelay tour ended in 1997, there really were not many "Pay No Mind"s for a few years. It re-appeared in the acoustic set on February 19 2000, in Philadelphia, on the first leg of the Vultures tour. After that, the song was played quite frequently in the acoustic sets throughout the remainder of the tour. On May 2 2000, Beck gave the finger to the "boy band singer."

The few shows Beck has done at the end of 2001 and 2002 have all begun with "Pay No Mind." Many of these versions don't have rewritten verses like above, but instead Beck sings and rambles stories and songs. I've made a new page for these here. The song continues as an on-again, off-again acoustic set highlight.
 
Notes: