Missing
By: Beck Hansen, Carlos Eduardo Lyra, John King, Marcos Vinicius de Moraes, Mike Simpson

Written by: Beck Hansen, Carlos Eduardo Lyra, John King, Marcos Vinicius de Moraes, Mike Simpson

Alternate Titles:

a.k.a. Brazilica

Versions:
  1. Missing (4:44)
    Available on Guero.
    Credits
    Recorded at: The Boat
    Beck Hansen: Arrangement (Strings), Mix, Percussion, Producer, Vocals
    David Campbell: Arrangement (Strings)
    Sean Davis: Bass
    The Dust Brothers: Beats, Mix
    Danny Kalb: Engineer
    John King: Producer
    Mike Simpson: Producer
  2. Heaven Hammer (4:54)
    Available on Guerolito Album Sampler and 2 other releases.
    Credits
    Jean-Benoît Dunckel: Producer
    Nicolas Godin: Producer
    Air: Remix
  3. Missing (Hugo Nicolson Remix) (4:38)
    Available on Guerolito.
    Credits
    Hugo Nicolson: Remix
    Beck Hansen: Vocals
  4. Missing (Leaked Version) (4:58)
    Available on Guero.
  5. Missing (Surround Mix) (4:44)
    Available on Guero.
  6. Still Missing (4:58)
    Available on Guero and 1 other release.
    Credits
    Röyksopp: Remix
    Beck Hansen: Vocals
 
Lyrics:
Missing [Version (a)]:

I prayed heaven today
Would bring its hammer down on me
And pound you out of my head
I can't think with you in it

I dragged all that I owned
Down the dirt road to find you
And my shoes, worn-out and used
They can't take me much farther

Something always takes the place of missing pieces
You can take and put together
Even though you know there's something missing

The sun burned a hole in my roof
I can't seem to fix it
And I hope the rain doesn't come
Wash me down the gutter

Something always takes the place of missing pieces
You can take and put together
Even though you know there's something missing

She rides in a car
Like a queen on a card
And the guns of her mind
Aim a line straight at mine
To a heart that is broke
Tried to feel but got choked
In the smoke of a desert
A beach with no treasure
A night that's so blue
Feed the aching in you
And the background birds
Take a flight from the earth
A bonfire burns
And the night current turns
On a lifeboat floating
Down a river of sleep
I can't see her hollow eyes
Walking along with my boots full of rocks
Can't believe these tears are mine
I give 'em to you to keep away in a box

Something always takes the place of missing pieces
You can take and put together
Even though you know there's something missing

Something always missing
Always someone missing something
Something always missing
Always someone missing something
Something always missing
Always someone missing something
Heaven Hammer [Version (b)]:

I prayed heaven today
Would bring its hammer down on me
And pound you out of my head
I can't think with you in it

I'd drag all that I owned
Down the dirt road to find you
And my shoes, worn-out and used
They can't take me much farther
Ohhh

Something always takes the place of missing pieces
You can take and put together even though
You know there's something missing

Something always takes the place of missing pieces
You can take and put together even though
You know there's something missing

She rides in a car
Like a queen on a card
And the guns of her mind
Aim a line straight at mine
To a heart that is broke
Tried to feel but got choked
In the smoke of a desert
A beach with no treasure
A night that seems blue
Feed the aching in you
And the background birds
Take a flight from the earth
A bonfire burns
And the night current turns
On a lifeboat floating
Down a river of sleep
Can't see her hollow eyes
Walking along with my boots full of rocks
Can't believe these tears of mine
I give 'em to you to keep away in a box
I give 'em to you to keep away in a box
I give 'em to you to keep away in a box
I give 'em to you to keep away in a box

Something always takes the place of missing pieces
You can take and put together even though
You know there's something missing

Something always missing
Always someone missing something
Something always missing
Always someone missing something
Something always missing
Always someone missing something
Something always missing
Always someone missing something
 
Still Missing [Version (f)]:

Doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo

I prayed heaven today
Would bring its hammer down on me
And pound you out of my head
I can't think with you in it

I dragged all that I owned
Down the dirt road to find you
And my shoes, worn-out and used
They can't take me much farther

Something always takes the place of missing pieces
You can take and put together even though
You know there's something missing

The sun burned a hole in my roof
I can't seem to fix it
And I hope rain doesn't come
Wash me down the gutter
Ohhhh ohhhh

Something always takes the place of missing pieces
You can take and put together even though
You know there's something missing

Something always missing
Always someone missing something

Something always missing
Always someone missing something

Can't see her hollow eyes
Walking along with my boots full of rocks
Can't believe these tears of mine
I give 'em to you to keep away in a box
 
The Song:

"Missing" is the third of Beck's Brazilian trilogy of songs, along with "Deadweight" and "Tropicalia." Beck loves Brazil, he listens to its music, he writes songs about it, and even takes night flights there. This article explores Beck's inspiration.

Beck talked briefly about the recording of this song to XFM in 2005. He noted that it started with a Brazilian loop of music, and was built up from there by him and the Dust Brothers. Also he liked how they recorded a "whole orchestra, pristene, state of the art" but then came back to the studio and put it through a "hundred dollar reverb box that made it sound like it was going through a can of tuna."

"Missing" is somewhat heavier than the earlier songs of the trilogy, musically. But like a lot of Brazilian music, it's heavy on melody. This track has a lot of percussion and strings as well. The lyrics are very strong and quite interesting. At first, it seems somewhat cobbled together. For instance, that first verse ("I prayed to heaven...") can be summed up as "trying to forget you, but can't." The second verse ("I'd drive all that I owned...") seems to be more "trying to find you, but can't." The third verse ("the sun burned a hole...") in turn is focused on "trying to survive, but struggling." Three different emotions for three different verses? (And who knows what's in that longer fourth one?)

Putting aside that the different emotions can be related, I think the chorus sums up this imperfection. The chorus, "Something always missing / Always someone missing something" is a clever and wonderful way of saying nothing is ever perfect. There's all these emotions and feelings but sometimes something is missing which can tie them together.

A slightly early version of Guero leaked to the web a few months prior to its release. Most of the songs were the same, but the leaked version of "Missing" was slightly extended about 10 seconds. The official release ended with Beck singing "something always missing / always someone missing something" three times. The leak had him do it four times.
 
Live:

Played live 30 times:
Earliest known live version: February 15, 2005
Latest known live version: March 25, 2009

Beck has not attempted "Missing" on stage all that often, and I reckon it is a difficult one to pull off.

2005 Guero tours

Beck attempted "Missing" three times early in 2005, during some warm-up/secret shows around LA (and once in London).

Then as the proper tour started, they did play "Missing " a little bit in June and July of 2005 (13 times). After those first few months though, they dropped it for good. It was not played again that year or in 2006-2007 on the Info tours.

2008 Modern Guilt tours

Then a few months into the Modern Guilt tour, in September 2008, "Missing" got reintroduced into the setlist. The second time was a show at the Hollywood Bowl, in which Beck performed with an orchestra conducted by his father. The setlist included many of the songs in Beck's career that feature strings, and "Missing" is one of those. The success of the night led to Beck including "Missing" around 10 more times after that show (albeit without orchestra) in September/October. They also did it 2 times in Japan in March 2009.

It has not been played since.
 
Notes: