"Vanities" can be found on Charlotte Gainsbourg's album, IRM
. Beck produced and wrote the entire album.
"Vanities" is a delicate but strong song, based on quiet acoustic guitar (or is that the harp?) and an ambient string section. The slowness and the strings somewhat remind me of "Round The Bend" from Sea Change
, though there is certainly a little more going on here.
A "bonfire of the vanities," according to Wikipedia, refers to the burning of objects that are deemed to be occasions of sin. Historically they included burning of books and art, but here it seems to be more general.
The song seems to be saying to someone: you are having all these experiences, but I'm the one without sin. But then, am I living?