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Factotum's Fulcrums
Unexpected Red Pills: Beck's Album "Sea Change" (2002)
Published 03/14/16 by JohannesFactotum [1 Comments]

There is a lot of rap that is absolutely considered to have Red Pill attitudes, but what about someone going through a transition from blue? Reportedly, Beck wrote "Sea Change" after a break-up with his girlfriend. Rolling Stone called it a "an entire album of spectacular suffering." This album is so much more nuanced than that, there's a serious Red Pill experience emerging throughout. When this album first dropped it called out to me in that decade but naturally, TRP did not exist in the way it does today. There were the hints of the feelings but no models of interpretation---I did not have TRP "terminology" to describe it, but I certainly felt it.

I gave it a listen recently and it struck me now how much more amazing this man's art captures the male experience with busted relationships, human dynamics and the self.

T01: The Golden Age

Starting in "The Golden Age." The kind of problem where you're feeling good about your relationship:

Put your hands on the wheel
Let the golden age begin
Let the window down
Feel the moonlight on your skin
Let the desert wind
Cool your aching head
Let the weight of the world
Drift away instead

And out of nowhere, when you have become lax in the relationship, the problems begin to accrue and you strive harder to "fix it."

With a desolated view
There's distant lights
But here they're far and few
And the sun don't shine
Even when its day
You gotta drive all night
Just to feel like you're okay

In 4m36s we've gone from the bliss of a relationship to crushing depression. The amount of time going from bliss to depression is unknown, time means nothing when you're in bliss. Depression equally so.

T02: Paper Tiger

Who is the paper tiger? You are. Let's abuse Wikipedia:

Paper tiger is a literal English translation of the Chinese phrase zhilaohu (???). The term refers to something that seems threatening but is ineffectual and unable to withstand challenge.

Here is some prime confusion and complete emotional upheaval, this is of course the moment of the breakup, and poetically he feels being pissed on:

O deserts down below us
And storms up above
Like a stray dog gone defective
Like a paper tiger in the sun

And at the end of the song, a decision. Can you ponder what the one word might be?

There is one word to the morning
There is one word to the truth
There is one word back to civilization
Well there is no word back to you

The appropriate TRP word of course is "Next" and we've only covered the first two tracks! But as we all know, saying it isn't the same as believing it.

T03: Guess I'm Doing Fine

With some realization of the larger relationship unfocused on the self until now, with quiet reflection:

I just wade the tides that turned
Till I learn to leave the past behind

It's only lies that I'm living
It's only tears that I'm crying
It's only you that I'm losing
Guess I'm doing fine

T04: Lonesome Tears

Remember when everyone always asks, "Is it okay to get back with your ex-?" This song covers that as well:

Lazy sun, your eyes catch the light

With promises that might come true for a while
Oh I'll ride farther than I should
Harder than I could, just to meet you there

Don't go back. What happens when you go back?

T05: Lost Cause

Capitulation of the other:

Your sorry eyes cut through the bone
They make it hard to leave you alone
Leave you here, wearing your wounds
Waving your guns at somebody new

Baby you're lost, baby you're lost
Baby you're a lost cause

and the self:

There's a place where you are going
You ain't never been before
No one laughin' at your back now
No one standing at your door
That's what you thought love was for

Baby you're lost, baby you're lost
Baby you're a lost cause
I'm tired of fighting, I'm tired of fighting
Fighting for a lost cause

T06: End of the Day

This seems like a rebounding experience that reinforces the prior pain, a kind "I did it anyway and it hurt just as bad the first time" feeling.

I've seen the end of the day come too late
Seen the love you had turning into hate
Had to act like I didn't even care
But I did so I got stranded standing there, standing there

It's nothing that I haven't seen before
But it still kills me like it did before
No it's nothing that I haven't seen before
But it still kills me like it did before

The denial of hypergamy continues in...

T07: It's All In Your Mind

...where the "traditional" love that has been sold as a bill of goods clashes with reality:

Well I cannot believe
You got a devil up your sleeve
And he's talking to me
And I cannot believe

And I wanted to be

And I wanted to be
I wanted to be
Your good friend

Now we're falling into a transition, Beck is going...

T08: Round the Bend

Now we're beginning to improve matters:

Turn yourself over
Loose change we could spend
Grinding down diamonds
Round, round, round the bend
Round, round, round the bend

People pushing harder

Up against themselves
Make their daggers sharper
Than their faces tell

Have you ever seen a song that tells you to keep TRP to yourself? No? Now you have. Make your daggers sharper than your face will tell.

T09: Already Dead

This is your homework. What feeling is this song? You have probably felt it many times. Lazy? Ok... shame on you. But everyone who knows you as the chump or the loser, they'll always perceive you that way for the rest of your life. You'll have to cut them out of your life. They're already dead.

T10: Sunday Sun

This one is contemplative. When I listen to it I hear it as

Haven't got a lot to learn
And my eyes they stray again
Looking for a satellite
In the rays of heaven again

There's no never ending
Sunday sun
Yesterdays are ending
Sunday sun

But all the lyrics sites say its "other ending" not "never ending." So, my interpretation or mondegreen is colored by this: You're always looking for the other "one" but that will never be forever. What Beck wrote according to the lyrics sites as "other ending" I am unsure of, perhaps he means he will always be looking for love with another. Maybe this is Beck's variant of "abundance mentality", there is no other ending of a past relationship than ending.

T11: Little One

The confusion of angry-tiredness and possible futures. Yes, this is "monk mode" and a rebirth and relearning to walk:

New days
Throw your chains away
Try to hang your hopes on the wind

Little one
Just a little way
Today all we need is waiting

T12: Side of the Road

Remember that metaphor of the crossroads? Not a Faustian bargin, but perhaps, more of a decision point. Friends may tell you the socially appropriate advice, but you can't tell them they are wrong. You must work from your truth:

Something better than this, someplace I'd like to go
To let all I've learned tell me what I know
About the kind of life I never thought I'd live
Till the ugly truth showed me what it did

Let it pass on the side of the road
What a friend could tell me now

T13: Ship in a Bottle

No man is an island? What is a ship but a man-made island? This ends Beck's catharsis:

Another ship in a bottle

It's got no place to sail
See your waves getting darker every hour
The stars have lost their power in the sky

But I know you're gonna try
To live without love, by and by
But that's not living that's just time
Going by
Going by

I feel like its a signature, tacked on at the end, to remain socially appropriate to the cult of True Love but the feelings throughout "Sea Change", such as those I have felt in the shambles of ambiguously ended relationships, are genuine and real.


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