"Lonesome Tears" is another heavily orchestrated song from Sea Change
. Beck buried a dramatic, downer of a song underneath waves of strings, which have an exciting and climactic coda.
Lyrically, Beck seems to have written his own Hank Williams standard (i.e., "Lonesome Whistle
"), and from that perspective he did quite well. The lyrics of those old country classics are always so simple and effective in their phrases and emotions ("I'm So Lonesome, I Could Cry
"), tapping into universal feelings. (As Beck explained it himself on September 15 2002 in the LA Times, "The thing that is so amazing about Williams is simplicity. He was so disciplined and so economical. There was no filter on his emotions.") There's certainly not many lines in "Lonesome Tears" that would be out of place in one of Williams' songs, even the wordplay of the chorus ("how could this love ever-changing / Never change...").
Played live 120 times:
August 2, 2002August 3, 2002August 8, 2002August 9, 2002August 11, 2002August 16, 2002August 17, 2002August 18, 2002August 20, 2002August 26, 2002
...and 110 more
Earliest known live version: August 2, 2002
Latest known live version: September 22, 2008
"Lonesome Tears" made its live debut on August 2 2002, in Seattle. Beck played it alone on the piano throughout the August tour, though a number of times he stopped it before finishing because he was not in the right mood. At the show I saw, he completed it, and really did seem affected by the song. On another show, he preceded it by saying "This one's a weeper," and he sounds kind of guilty about indulging in it. But he shouldn't...I don't think anyone minds!
If I had to pick only one song highlight from the two shows I attended in October 2002, "Lonesome Tears" would be it. Beck and the Flaming Lips had this one down. The Lips progressive-rock sound filled out all the strings, and the long coda blew me away. This still seems to me to be a song Beck gets lost in while singing (in a good way, I mean). It's a great song live.
Beck played "Lonesome Tears" solo on January 17 2005 at the concert he did to benefit the 2004 tsunami victims in south Asia. The unique thing about this version was that it was reportedly on his harmonium! So instead of doing the usual harmonium showpiece ("Nobody's Fault"), Beck has re-done "Lonesome Tears." I imagine this song works well on it.
After 2005, the song has only shown up a few times on stage.
In 2007, Beck played it a few times on his Japanese tour, which ended up his Guero/Info touring. On April 8, it was done on acoustic guitar, with his band doing back-up harmony. It was pretty amazing.
Then in 2008, Beck played it 3 more times live. The first was to practice for the second time, which was his Hollywood Bowl performance, where he used an orchestra conducted by his father for 6-7 songs. Naturally, "Lonesome Tears" was one of those, as its string arrangement on record is so epic.