Static 1
By: Beck Hansen
Written by: Beck Hansen

Alternate Titles:

a.k.a. Baby

  1. Static 1
Static 1 [Version (a)]:

From Radio 1 London session recording

Can you feel it in the airwaves rolling down the lane?
Black out in the background? Standing in your veins?
Mmm, nothing that I wouldn't say to you

Can you teach it to the prisoners? Can you throw it at the wall?
You leap into the altitudes and see just where you fall
Mmm, nothing that I wouldn't take from you

Can you fit it in a system? Can you put it in a word?
The static and distortion is all you ever heard
Mmm, nothing that I wouldn't say to you
The Song:

"Static" is yet another lost folk song. Beck has so many he doesn't know what to do with! This one has been performed live a few times, so it's not completely lost. According to the FAQ, it was recorded with intent to be a single in 1995, but that obviously never happened. It was probably part of the K Records 2 follow-up sessions, which was never really completed.

This song has nothing in common whatsoever with the "Static" on Mutations, aside from the title. A subtle and beautiful finger-picked blues, it wears a huge Mississippi John Hurt influence on its sleeve.

The closest thing to a recording that circulates is the version from the Radio 1 London sessions. Radio sessions like these aren't really live performances, but actual studio recordings. Some of the other songs from the sessions had overdubs and such, but the "Static" did not. I'm not clear on the date of these. They're often credited to 1994, which would be accurate for the life of this song. But Beck also did "Jack-ass," so 1994 seems pretty early for that song. *shrug*

The concept of static is something Beck's used a few times, and not just on the two different songs he gave that title. This version here is very similar to "The New Pollution," which Beck described as being that constant attack of information and media and noise (i.e. "static and distortion"). He seems to be saying, "There's nothing that I wouldn't do" to make it all stop, which leads back to "The New Pollution," where he seems envious of the person who can ignore it all ("she's alone in the new pollution"). This "Static" is brief and simple, yet still quite eloquent in its message and tone.

Played live 8 times:
Earliest known live version: September 1, 1994
Latest known live version: August 9, 2002

The earliest live recording of "Static" I know of comes from Japan on September 6 1994. It's a mesmerizing performance, with a quiet guitar line. It reminds me a little of "Hollow Log" at this point, but slower and more hypnotic. Throughout the fall of 1994 though, he would work on it, and develop a much fancier guitar part for the song.

The later performances in the fall of 1994 have this newer guitar part, and are the song come to full fruition. Once Beck arrived on the blues-y arrangement, "Static" really fell into place. The lyrics remained mostly unchanged throughout. One performance of "Static" was on October 24 1994, in which Beck plays a quiet but lovely version to a chattering, noisy audience. Even better is the one a few weeks later on the BBC in England in November 1994. Beck's guitar playing is incredible.

On November 19 1997. Beck & Friends were doing a "country" concert with a lot of rare songs and covers, such as "Heartland Feelings," "Light My Fire" and the like. Digging deep for some songs to play, Beck included "Static," for the first time in ages, and the last time ever. He played it alone.