Necessary Evil
By: Beck Hansen

Written by: Beck Hansen

Versions:
  1. Necessary Evil
    Available on Modern Guilt.
    Credits
    Beck Hansen: Bass, Guitar, Guitar (Acoustic Slide), Vocals
    Danger Mouse: Beats
 
Lyrics:
Necessary Evil [Version (a)]:

Think I'm brain dead waiting the rain out
In this makeshift mountain home
With my arms crossed, my bare bones
Making the most of meager means

Necessary evil one more time
Necessary evil, starting to wonder what happens now?
What happens now?

If you're stranded out on a warpath
There's no scapegoat for to ride you home
When you're drifting over the landmines
You keep drifting 'til kingdom-come

Necessary evil, starting to wonder
Necessary evil, starting to wonder what happens now?
What happens now?
What happens now?
 
The Song:

Beck has registered a song of this title with ASCAP. According to ASCAP's registry listing, it is credited to Beck's publishing company, Youthless. This is his most recent (circa Modern Guilt) publishing company. So perhaps this is an outtake to the album?

I asked Beck's keyboardist, but he had no idea what the song was.

UPDATE: The song is now available on the UK iTunes, as a bonus track to Modern Guilt. It's a slide guitar-y poppy kind of tune.

I was just researching the phrase "necessary evil," but it is such a generic phrase that one cannot attach specific meanings to it out of context. For instance, Nietzsche considered Christianity a necessary evil. Libertarians may consider the government a necessary evil. Some philosophers consider all evils to be necessary, which keep nature from being too perfect.

So clearly I've been wondering: what is the necessary evil of this song? The song is someone putting up with some evils as necessary, but wondering "what happens now?" An evil, necessary no less, implies that there must be some good that accompanies or follows it. Otherwise, it would not be necessary. What is the virtue for which the evil should be tolerated?

Beck does not say. Perhaps because he does not know. He's drifting, stranded, braindead. But at some point, you wonder, what's the point? All this bad stuff is happening (one more time, no less), and why? WHY?