Don't Believe The Junk They Put On You
By: Beck Hansen

Written by: Beck Hansen

Alternate Titles:

a.k.a. Don't Believe The Joke They Put On You

Versions:
  1. Don't Believe The Junk They Put On You (2:59)
    Available on R-Marcel and 1 other release.
    Credits
    Beck Hansen: Guitar (Acoustic), Harmonica, Vocals
 
Lyrics:
Don't Believe The Junk They Put On You [Version (a)]:

Tom Joad come a-walkin' down the road
With a bottle and a pistol in his coat
Said, "I learned a thing or two
About the things I never knew"
Don't believe the junk they put on you
Don't believe, don't believe, don't believe

They rolled Jesus Christ in a cave
And the people worshipped at his grave
Said, "The ages have buried me,
Robbed me with stupidity"
And don't believe the junk they put on you
Don't believe, don't believe

Daniel Johnston was a worried man
He knew about the devil's plan
There's ashes on the corn
For every sucker born
Don't believe the junk they put on you
Don't believe, don't believe, don't believe

Now I'm biting on the bullet hard
As I'm fending back these prison guards
There's so much I don't need
Shove that banjo up your sleeve
And don't believe the junk they put on you
Don't believe, don't believe, don't believe
Don't believe, don't believe, don't believe
 
The Song:

This great folk song from Don't Get Bent Out Of Shape uses a short parade of famous characters and persons to express the main point "Don't believe the junk they put on you." Beck sounds wise beyond his years.

First up is Tom Joad, the famous character from The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, about the groups of "dust bowlers" who migrated out of Oklahoma during the depression. Woody Guthrie also wrote a song about him called "Tom Joad." In the story, Joad was recently paroled from being imprisoned for murder, so the opening lines here are certainly not out of character. The first verse of Guthrie's "Tom Joad" is
Tom Joad got out of the old McAlester Pen
There he got his parole after four long years on a man killing charge
Tom Joad come a-walkin' down the road, poor boy
Tom Joad come a-walkin' down the road
Beck borrows the end of this verse as the opening line for "Don't Believe the Joke." What you shouldn't believe is that Tom Joad, as a parolee who lost his family, is to be feared. In Guthrie's song, at least, Tom Joad is portrayed as a hero.

The second verse alludes to the story of Jesus Christ faking his own death.

Daniel Johnston is a semi-obscure blues musician. Beck covered two of his songs in more recent times, "Devil Town" and "Some Things Last A Long Time." I'm not sure if this verse references Johnston lyrics, or just uses his name, and refers to Johnston's infamous mental state. The closest I can find to this is the first line of Johnston's "1989 Blues": "I got the worried blues and I don't know what to do." It's close. For what it's worth, just about every Daniel Johnston song I've heard sounds exactly like a Don't Get Bent Out Of Shape outtake.

The final verse begins with a phrase Beck likes: "Now I'm biting on the bullet hard," which was used in "Soul Suckin Jerk," as well.
 
Notes: