Death is Coming to Get You
By: Beck Hansen

Written by: Beck Hansen

Alternate Titles:

a.k.a. Death is Coming to Get Me

 
 
Lyrics:
Death is Coming to Get You (Fresh Meat version) [Version (a)]:

Death is coming to get you
It's mighty plain to see
With a handful of cocaine
And a long white limousine
He's got rings on his fingers
Knives on his sleeve
He's sucking all the air up
'Til there's nothing left to breathe
Well, he's looking in the phone book
For you number and your name
And he's coming to your house
While you're watching a football game
He's pulling up the driveway
With the windows rolled up tight
And the eyes going blind
And your hair is turning white
Well he's crawling up the stairs
With a can of mace
And he's breaking all the windows
With your neighbor's face
He sets your clothes on fire
And brings you to your knees
He's filling up the rooms
With jesters and disease
He smashes the TV
Decapitates your mom
Raids the refrigerator
Throws vermin on the lawn
Playin' frisbee with your records
Pours blood on the walls
Uses your telephone
To make long distance calls
He's laughing at your diary
He's puking on your suits
He's dancing on your forehead
In your hiking boots
He's climbing up the chimney
He's falling through the roof
He ties you up with snakes
And takes your drugs and booze
He's sending back
All of the bills that you paid
He covers you with bacon
And fills your mouth with Raid
He's got everything you own
Out on the patio
And he's giving it away
To people you don't know
But you don't even care
Your mind has been destroyed
And this is the kind of stupid song
You write when you're unemployed
Death is Coming to Get You (Golden Feelings version) [Version (b)]:

Death is coming to get you
It's mighty plain to see
With a handful of cocaine
And a long white limousine
With diamonds on his fingers
And his knives up his sleeve
Sucking up the oxygen
'Til there's nothing left to breathe
He's coming with a banjo
That ain't got no strings
Taserguns and vitamins
And plastic tambourines
He don't care if you're not ready
He don't care if you're not dressed
You can beg, he won't listen
You can't bribe him with blank checks
'Cause he's coming with sunglasses
Wrapped around his skull
Brass-plated knuckles
And a bulletproof soul
His bodyguards are ugly
And his slaves are all weak
His wife's got the heads of
Roasted pigs on their feet
His children are all naked
With broken arms and legs
His parents are covered
With dried and rotten eggs
He's looking in the phone book
For your number and your name
And he's coming to your house
While you're watching the game
He's coming up the driveway
With the windows rolled up tight
And his eyes are all frozen
And his hair is turning white
He's creeping up the stairs
With a can of mace
He's breaking all the windows
With your neighbor's face
Your clothes burst into flames
As you fall to your knees
He's filling up the room
With jesters and disease
Well, he breaks all your records
Decapitates your mom
Raids the refrigerator
Throws vermin on the lawn
Smashes the TV
Pours blood on the walls
Uses your own telephone
To make long distance calls
He's laughing at your diary
He's puking on your suits
He's dancing on your forehead
In your hiking boots
He's crawling up the chimney
He's falling through the roof
He'll tie you up with snakes
Take your drugs and booze
He's got your little Sister
Hanging by a braid
He covers you with bacon
And fills your mouth with Raid
He's got everything you own
Out on the patio
And he's giving it away
To people you don't know
But you don't even care
Your mind has been destroyed
You're mutilated, deformed
And unemployed
 
 
The Song:

Beck liked this song enough to record it, at least twice. The first one came during his sessions for Golden Feelings. For whatever reason, he didn't include it on that album, however, but it is available as an outtake. This version is in full folk mode, with Beck's parade of lyrics coming over some good acoustic guitar work. It's one of the best early example of Beck's interest in combining hiphop and folk. He's said before, usually in reference to "Loser," that he felt hiphop was the folk music of the times. Certainly, his singing style here was influenced by rap. This was made even clearer by the other recording of "Death Is Coming To Get You."

That version, available on the homemade compilation, Fresh Meat + Old Slabs, is so different, it's hard to believe it's the same song. Beck's vocals are similar, a fast rap of words, but this time it's over a raw hiphop drumbeat, feedback, and some sound that reminds me of "Magic Station Wagon." It's a pretty drastic change from the intial acoustic guitars, but goes a long way in showing Beck's interests and talents in both. I love how he ends it memorably: "And this is the kind of stupid song / You write when you're unemployed." It's not clear when this version was recorded, as Fresh Meat is basically a bootleg of himself, compiled from various recording sessions of the early '90s. (This version could have come before the Golden Leftovers one, but that doesn't seem like the right progression to me.)

Before singing "Death Is Coming To Get You" on KCRW, Beck explained the song's inspiration:
This next one was inspired by, I think, the greatest folk musician singer, a guy from West Virginia called Nimrod Workman. It's this old man. I happened to see him on a film. And he came out, he was on his porch. He was screaming, "I'm 78 and I can still do all this!" He's a coal miner and he fights for the union and all that stuff. He got down on his hands, then he puts his legs over his shoulders, and he's walking on his hands and he's screaming, 'Death! Oh death is coming to get me!' So that inspired me to write this song about death coming.
With such an obscure and amusing inspiration, Beck does have a lot of fun with the lyrics. The Golden Leftovers version seems to have more description of Death, while the Fresh Meat one has more description of what Death does. He fluctuates in his description of Death as being alternately a mischeivous rascal ("Throws frisbees and your records . . . he's laughing at your diary . . . uses your telephone to make long distance calls") and pure evil ("He decapitates your mom . . . he covers you with bacon and fills your mouth with Raid"). Dying would be preferable to all of the things Death does here.
 
Live:

Played live once:
July 23, 1993

This oldie didn't last long in Beck's repertoire, and during his appearence on KCRW way back in 1993, it is easy to tell why. Beck seemed to be having trouble remembering all the lyrics, and he stumbled and paused a number of times. He was happy to get to the end, and, during the last few lines, put some energy into it to try and save the performance. His banjo playing was, as usual, fine, and was nicely accompanied by Dallas Don on drums.

The lyrics during the folky version on KCRW are a little different than both the recorded versions. Unfortunately, though, this is the only known live version of the song.

Death is coming to get you
It's mighty plain to see
With a handful of cocaine
And a long white limousine
He's got rings on his fingers
And his knives on his sleeve
Sucking all the air out
'Til there's nothing left to breathe
He don't care if you're not ready
He don't care if you're not dressed
You beg, he won't listen
You can't bribe him with blank checks
'Cause he's looking in the phone book
For your number and your name
He's coming to your house
When you're watching a football game
He's pulling up the driveway
With the windows rolled up tight
And his eyes are going blind
And his hair is turning white
He's crawling up the stairs
With a can of mace
He's breaking all your windows
With your neighbor's face
He sets your clothes on fire
And brings you to your knees
He fills up the room
With fashion and disease
Well, he brea. . .smashes the tv
Decapitates your mom
Raids the refrigerator
Throws vermin on the lawn
Throws frisbees and your records
Pours blood on the walls
Uses your telephone
To make long distance calls
He's laughing at your diary
He's puking on your suits
He's dancing on your forehead
In your hiking boots
He's crawling up the chimney
He's falling through the roof
He ties you up with vipers
Takes all your drugs and booze
He covers you with bacon
And fills your mouth with Raid
He's sending back all the bills
That you thought you paid
He's got everything you own
Out on the patio
And he's giving it away
To people you don't even know
Well, you don't even care
Your mind has been destroyed
You're mutilated, molested
And unemployed
 
Notes: