"Day For Night" was put up on beck.com when it was redesigned in November 2005. It sounds to me like "Broken Drum"s little brother, a slow atmospheric track.
Day For Night
is also the name of a film by François Truffaut. I don't know if it's a coincidence, or relates to the song in anyway or what, but looking at the film's Wiki page
, it seems likely an influence. Beck in the past has said another of Truffaut's films, The 400 Blows, is one of his all-time favorites.
Also Beck seems to have been inspired by French literature/art a great deal around this time. Nausea
is the name of a famous French philosophical novel by Jean-Paul Sartre, and another French book called Death On The Installment Plan
which showed up in a lyric for "Landslide
." More French literature/poetry was referenced in the album he wrote with Charlotte Gainsbourg, who is French. Beck has also played various French music, both as a DJ and with his own band (ie., Serge Gainsbourg, Francois Hardy covers).
So I finally got around to watching Truffaut's Day For Night. (See what I do for this site?) But... I did not see much to indicate Beck was using the film as any sort of jumping off point for this song. The story does have an actor who, after his love leaves him, wants to quit acting, he's too much of a wreck to go on. Perhaps that feeling led to "I throw my voice away" here.
Day For Night, I take it, is a film technique (that the movie is referencing) where they shoot a night scene in the daylight with some fancy filter so it looks dark. I'm not sure about that as a metaphor (in the film or in this song). Perhaps it deals with covering up reality, allowing you "to disappear."
Still, Beck's lyrics are quite lovely, simple expressions of powerful feelings. "Seize the moment / when it's day for night / to disappear" is striking. Put away your distinguishing characteristics, shoot out the lights, and disappear. What's left of you when you are lost? The second verse has lonesome vagabonds, weary and far from home. Are they lost?
Life is hostile, but keeping your soul is the way to survive it.