"End of the Day" is a song from Sea Change
. I am impressed with this song's subtlety; Sea Change
is not the most subtle of records, but here I find that the lyrics, the melody, the emotion... all could have been easily way overdone, but Beck handles it just right. It's also amazing just how catchy some of Beck's songs like this are, even though they lack any "hooks."
"End of the day," of course, could refer to almost anything, but almost surely it doesn't just mean "night." There are many situations this song could apply to, from losing a job, to death, to a broken heart, to point out but a few. The song at its core is probably about a break-up, but the specifics of what is breaking up is expertly left vague. It's more about the act, not the specifics. Beck fills the song with a sense of resignation. Things are ending, and there's nothing to do about it. It's happened before and it will happen again.
I really like how the song progresses on this theme too. In the beginning, the change symbolized by the "end of the day" is simply accepted as happenstance; there's "not a lot to say, not a lot to do." The second verse has a little more reaction, mainly frustration, as the end came "too late." It even refers to the time in the first verse when he "had to act like [he] didn't even care." Finally, the third verse describes the end in stronger emotions, comparing it to the vicious and relentless pursuance of prison dogs. It's a natural progression of emotions.
Played live 40 times:
August 2, 2002August 16, 2002August 17, 2002August 20, 2002August 22, 2002August 30, 2002October 14, 2002October 18, 2002October 28, 2002October 30, 2002
...and 30 more
Earliest known live version: August 2, 2002
Latest known live version: October 27, 2018
"End Of The Day" was played live mostly in 2002 and 2003, with a slight return to it in 2006, and another brief go with it in 2011/2012. It has gone through a couple of different arrangements in the way it is played (acoustic, band, etc.).
AUGUST 2002 solo version
Beck premiered "End of the Day" on stage on August 2, 2002, though it never really became a regular song on the short August tour, playing it just 6 times in 20 shows. Beck played the song on acoustic guitar, and was usually accompanied by Smokey Hormel, who added slide guitar. His slide guitar touches are a great edition to the simple folksiness of the song.
Beck also did a solo tour of Europe in April/May 2003, but interestingly, never played the song.
2002-2003 band versions
August 30, 2002 was the final gig of the month, and he was joined on stage by the band who recorded Sea Change with him. They played "End Of The Day" together. This band also did it a few times in March 2003.
In between those dates, Beck toured with the Flaming Lips as his band. "End Of The Day" with the Lips is pretty interesting, as some night it kind of rides the line between a plodding rock song and a more delicate, pretty one. (Some nights though = gorgeous. See the first show, October 14, 2002.) They did it about 10 times together.
Beck then tried "End of the Day" with another new band at the first two shows they did together in the summer of 2003, but then they dropped it entirely.
2006 Info tour
Beck toured forever in 2005 and most of 2006, never playing "End Of The Day" until the end of 2006. They played it 7 times around October that year. Two of them (October 17 and 22) were acoustic band versions--Beck plays it on acoustic guitar, while the band adds some other lowkey touches (ie., harmonium, percussion). The October 17, 2006 show was broadcast on Toronto TV and is a full band acoustic show. That "End Of The Day" is stunning, with a harmonium underpinning the folk song, as well as some light percussion.
2011-2012 Sea Change nostalgia tours
After a touring break, Beck went back on the road for some minimal touring in 2011 and 2012 -- he got his old Sea Change
band back together, and they were nominally celebrating the album's 10th anniversary. So they did fit "End Of The Day" into the set a few times (twice in 2011, six times in 2012). They leaned heavier on other Sea Change
songs but this one was around a little bit.
It has not been played since.