Devils Haircut
By: Beck Hansen, John King, Mike Simpson

Written by: Beck Hansen, John King, Mike Simpson

Alternate Titles:

a.k.a. Electric Music and the Summer People

Versions:
  1. Devils Haircut (3:14)
    Available on Odelay and 9 other releases.
    Credits
    Recorded at: PCP Labs
    Beck Hansen: Bass, Guitar (Electric), Harmonica, Mix, Organ, Producer, Vocals
    Bob Ludwig: Mastering
    The Dust Brothers: Mix, Producer, Turntables
  2. American Wasteland (2:42)
    Available on Odelay and 3 other releases.
    Credits
    Sean Ross: Bass
    Mickey Petralia: Guitar, Remix
    Beck Hansen: Vocals
  3. Dark and Lovely (3:37)
    a.k.a. Dark and Loverly
    Available on Odelay and 4 other releases.
    Credits
    The Dust Brothers: Remix
    Beck Hansen: Vocals
  4. Devils Haircut (Noel Gallagher Remix) (3:45)
    Available on Beck - Super Rare! Vol. 2 and 1 other release.
    Credits
    Noel Gallagher: Remix
    Beck Hansen: Vocals
  5. Groovy Sunday (3:13)
    Available on Beck - Super Rare! Vol. 2 and 1 other release.
    Credits
    Mike Simpson: Remix
    Beck Hansen: Vocals
  6. Richard's Hairpiece (3:20)
    Available on Odelay and 1 other release.
    Credits
    Aphex Twin: Remix
  7. Devils Haircut (single version) (3:55)
    Available on Devils Haircut.
    Credits
    Noel Gallagher: Remix
    Beck Hansen: Vocals
  8. Devils Haircut (Rock N Roll edit) (4:47)
    Available on Devils Haircut.
    Credits
    Noel Gallagher: Remix
    Beck Hansen: Vocals
Unofficial Versions: [show/hide]
  1. Devil's Crystal (2:40)
    Available on Remixx Laws.
    Credits
    Beck Hansen: Mashed
    New Order: Mashed
  2. Devils Milkshake (2:53)
    Credits
    Beck Hansen: Mashed
    Kelis: Mashed
    bass211: Remix (Mashup)
  3. Stones Haircut (1:42)
    Credits
    Beck Hansen: Mashed
    The Rolling Stones: Mashed
    DJ Zebra: Remix
 
 
Lyrics:
Devils Haircut [Version (a)]:

Something's wrong 'cause my mind is fading
And everywhere I look there's a dead end waiting
Temperatures dropping at the rotten oasis
Stealing kisses from the leperous faces

Heads are hanging from the garbage man trees
Mouthwash, jukebox, gasoline
Pistols are pointing at a poor man's pockets
Smilin' eyes whippin' out of their sockets
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind

Love machines on the sympathy crutches
Discount orgies on the dropout buses
Hitching a ride with the bleeding noses
Coming to town with the briefcase blues
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind

Something's wrong 'cause my mind is fading
Ghettoblasting, disentegrating
Rock and roll, know what I'm saying?
And everywhere I look there's a devil waiting
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind

Got a devil's haircut in my mind!
Got a devil's haircut in my mind!
Devil's haircut in my mind!
American Wasteland [Version (b)]:

You guys are posers!
This next song is called "American Wasteland."


Something's wrong 'cause my mind is fading
And everywhere I look there's a dead end waiting
Temperatures dropping at the rotten oasis
Stealing kisses from the leperous faces

Heads are hanging from the garbage man trees
Mouthwash, jukebox, gasoline
Pistols are pointing at a poor man's pockets
Smilin' eyes whippin' out of their sockets
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Devils haircut in my mind

Love machines on the sympathy crutches
Discount orgies on the dropout buses
Hitching a ride with the bleeding noses
Coming to town with the briefcase blues
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Devils haircut in my mind

Something's wrong 'cause my mind is fading
Ghetto-blasting, disintegrating
Rock and roll, know what I'm saying?
And everywhere I look there's a devil waiting
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Devils haircut in my mind
Devils haircut in my mind
Devil

Can I get a little more guitar in the monitors?
Turn the bass down a little bit too.
This next song is called "Go To Hell."
 
Dark and Lovely [Version (c)]:

Something's wrong 'cause my mind is fading
And everywhere I look there's a dead end waiting
Temperatures dropping at the rotten oasis
Stealing kisses from the leperous faces

Heads are hanging from the garbage man trees
Mouthwash, jukebox, gasoline
Pistols are pointing at a poor man's pockets
Smilin' eyes whippin' out of their sockets
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind

Love machines on the sympathy crutches
Discount orgies on the dropout buses
Hitching a ride with the bleeding noses
Coming to town with the briefcase blues
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind

Whatcha gonna do now, gigolo?
I'm gonna throw it down
Break it down


Something's wrong 'cause my mind is fading
Ghetto-blasting, disintegrating
Rock and roll, know what I'm saying?
And everywhere I look there's a devil waiting
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind

Got a devils haircut in my mind!
Got a devils haircut in my mind!
Devils haircut in my mind!
Devils haircut in my mind!
Devils Haircut (Noel Gallagher Remix) [Version (d)]:

Something's wrong 'cause my mind is fading
And everywhere I look there's a dead end waiting
Temperatures dropping at the rotten oasis
Stealing kisses from the leperous faces

Heads are hanging from the garbage man trees
Mouthwash, jukebox, gasoline
Pistols are pointing at a poor man's pockets
Smilin' eyes whippin' out of their sockets
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind

Love machines on the sympathy crutches
Discount orgies on the dropout buses
Hitching a ride with the bleeding noses
Coming to town with the briefcase blues
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind

Something's wrong 'cause my mind is fading
Ghettoblasting, disentegrating
Rock and roll, know what I'm saying?
And everywhere I look there's a devil waiting
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind

Got a devil's haircut in my mind!
Got a devil's haircut in my mind!
Devil's haircut in my mind!
 
Groovy Sunday [Version (e)]:

Something's wrong 'cause my mind is fading
And everywhere I look there's a dead end waiting
Temperatures dropping at the rotten oasis
Stealing kisses from the leperous faces

Heads are hanging from the garbage man trees
Mouthwash, jukebox, gasoline
Pistols are pointing at a poor man's pockets
Smilin' eyes whippin' out of their sockets
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind

Love machines on the sympathy crutches
Discount orgies on the dropout buses
Hitching a ride with the bleeding noses
Coming to town with the briefcase blues
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind

Something's wrong 'cause my mind is fading
Ghetto-blasting, disentegrating
Rock and roll, know what I'm saying?
And everywhere I look there's a devil waiting
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind

Got a devils haircut in my mind!
Got a devils haircut in my mind!
Devils haircut in my mind!
Richard's Hairpiece [Version (f)]:

Something's wrong 'cause my mind is fading
And everywhere I look there's a dead end waiting
Temperatures dropping at the rotten oasis
Stealing kisses from the leperous faces

Something's wrong 'cause my mind is fading
And everywhere I look there's a dead end waiting
Temperatures dropping at the rotten oasis
Stealing kisses from the leperous faces
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind

Love machines on the sympathy crutches
Discount orgies on the dropout buses
Hitching a ride with the bleeding noses
Coming to town with the briefcase blues

Love machines on the sympathy crutches
Discount orgies on the dropout buses
Hitching a ride with the bleeding noses
Coming to town with the briefcase blues

Something's wrong 'cause my mind is fading
And everywhere I look there's a dead end waiting
Temperatures dropping at the rotten oasis
Stealing kisses from the leperous faces

Something's wrong 'cause my mind is fading
And everywhere I look there's a dead end waiting
Temperatures dropping at the rotten oasis
Stealing kisses from the leperous faces
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind
Got a devils haircut in my mind
 
Devils Haircut (single version) [Version (g)]:

Something's wrong 'cause my mind is fading
And everywhere I look there's a dead end waiting
Temperatures dropping at the rotten oasis
Stealing kisses from the leperous faces

Heads are hanging from the garbage man trees
Mouthwash, jukebox, gasoline
Pistols are pointing at a poor man's pockets
Smilin' eyes whippin' out of their sockets
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind

Love machines on the sympathy crutches
Discount orgies on the dropout buses
Hitching a ride with the bleeding noses
Coming to town with the briefcase blues
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind

Something's wrong 'cause my mind is fading
Ghettoblasting, disentegrating
Rock and roll, know what I'm saying?
And everywhere I look there's a devil waiting
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind
Got a devil's haircut in my mind

Got a devil's haircut in my mind!
Got a devil's haircut in my mind!
Devil's haircut in my mind!
Devils Haircut (Rock N Roll edit) [Version (h)]:

Got rock and roll in my mind
Got rock and roll in my mind
Got rock and roll in my mind
Got rock and roll in my mind

Got rock and roll in my mind
Got rock and roll in my mind
Got rock and roll in my mind
Got rock and roll in my mind
 
 
The Song:

"Devils Haircut" shows off the Dust Brothers' production techniques at their finest. The song is a mixture of samples, but to their great credit, the song still sounds very much like a band performance.

A quick breakdown of the samples turns up three main ones (there's probably some minor ones!). First is the four-note guitar riff which leads the song. Like some of "Jack-ass," this comes from Van Morrison's great '60s group, Them. They did a lot of covers, and one was a groovy song called "I Can Only Give You Everything." Beck and the Dusties did not literally sample this song, however, but just replayed the riff, giving it more muscle and a fuller sound. Yet another Them cover, this one of James Brown's funky classic "Out of Sight," was also used. From this, they get the drumbeat heard during the verses of "Devils Haircut." During the choruses (and "good drum breaks") though, the drums are courtesy of another song, Pretty Purdie's "Soul Drums." Purdie is a jazz drummer, who calls himself the "most sampled drummer ever."

On top of all this, Beck sings some unique and bizarre lyrics. A bevy of grotesque, Beat-poetic images like "discount orgies," "bleeding noses," "garbage man trees," and "stealing kisses from the leperous faces" are relatively off-putting. Beck uses them to evoke a feeling, a sense of disorientation, "a devils haircut in my mind," the blues.

And it is in true blues fashion that the song is open to so many interpretations. How do you define "the blues"? Its definition seems to vary for listeners and artists. Beck noticed this "vague" quality himself. When asked, he's offered up numerous possible interpretations (from the silly, to the obscure, to the possible). Beck even made fun of it during his appearance on the TV show "Futurama": "What was that song about?"

"Devils Haircut" does contain a number of references to travel or touring, and it has been reported that the song was written just after Beck finished the difficult Lollapalooza tour, which had given him a few months break during the recording Odelay.

One intriguing comment from Beck was that the song was a rewriting of the famous "Stagolee" blues myth:
I don't know if I ever HAD any youthful purity, but I can understand that you might be tempted to make commercial shit and compromise to do it. I try not to compromise on anything. I think we associate becoming an adult with compromise. Maybe that's what the devil is. In 'Devils Haircut' that was the scenario. I imagined Stagger Lee . . . I thought, what if this guy showed up now in 1996. The song had this Sixties grooviness, and I thought of using him as a Rumplestiltskin figure, this Lazarus figure to comment on where we've ended up as people. What would he make of materialism and greed and ideals of beauty and perfection? His reaction would be, 'Whoa, this is disturbing shit.'
He explained the song further as being "a really simplistic metaphor for the evil of vanity."

But of course, in the same interview, he said the song wasn't planned out at all: "I thought 'Devils Haircut' was a really bad lyric. If I can't finish a song, I'll just put in something temporary. That's what 'Loser' was. Then the temporary one always becomes the best one, because it wasn't all thought out."
 
Live:

Played live 458 times:
Earliest known live version: June 27, 1996
Latest known live version: April 22, 2014

"Devils Haircut" has been played at what seems like every rock show Beck has done since he began the Odelay tour in July 1996. It will be almost be a shock when he stops playing it. It is a very natural song for the stage, with it's catchy loud riff and enthusiastic vocal melody.

The song not only does not sound too different on stage from the arrangement on Odelay, it also has not changed much from tour to tour or from band to band.

That said, the best performances are from the Odelay tour, surely, with that band, when the song was at its freshest. Joey Waronker regularly killed it on this track, while an army of guitars attacked.

Somewhere around 1998-1999, Beck moved "Devils Haircut" to the end of some of his setlists. They tacked 3-4 minutes of chaos and feedback on to the end of the song. ROCK! This continued throughout the Vultures tours of 2000-2001. The feedback's cut out lately, but they continue to rock the crap out of the song.

OK, so I've tried to find some noteworthy, drastic rearrangements of the song. There's not many, to be honest. But a couple:

July 2, 2000 was an acoustic show at a festival during what I refer to a "summer break" from the Vultures tour. They did a whole bunch of quiet, acoustic, bluesy songs. Without the usual full-on electric guitar attack, this version relies almost entirely on percussion and some sound effects (though they appear to have found an electric guitar somewhere to rock the riff).

August 20, 2002 was one of Beck's solo shows, and on it he started to play "Where It's At" riff on his piano. He stopped it pretty quickly, and then started talking about how it's the first four seconds of songs that's the most exciting. He then started the "Devils Haircut" riff on piano. He's goofing off so he doesn't take it anywhere. But I must say, it sounds really neat that way!

 
Samples

1. The main 4-note guitar riff comes from Them's song "I Can Only Give You Everything," which was written by Phillip Coulter and Thomas Scott. Beck also used a drumbeat from Them's cover of James Brown's "Out Of Sight" on this song. (He also sampled Them on "Jack-ass.")

2. Beck also used a drumbeat from Pretty Purdie's "Soul Drums." Bernard Purdie is an oft-sampled drummer in the world of hiphop.
 
videos

 
Notes: