Summer’s gone and good riddance, I’d rather any weather than a heat wave in Philly. But I still like the idea of summer, which I associate with old memories of hitchhiking, seashore towns, and chasing girls who enjoyed being caught.
Beck Hansen associates summer with… who knows? No one else making pop music since the early 1990s is more enigmatic. The scrawny space cowboy has cranked out scores of carefully crafted songs wrapped in swirls of sound that dazzle and amuse. He’s had it both ways — commercial success and the freedom to intermittently record albums so quirky and downbeat, he pisses off even ardent fans (shades of Dylan and Neil Young.)
Beck borrows from hiphop, Delta blues, bossa nova, electronica, whatever comes to mind as he writes and records. His postmodernist tricks are to disguise that he’s a throwback — a gifted songwriter and multi-instrumentalist always looking to improve on his existing work.
“Girl,” from Guero (2005), is a sunny melody with lyrics that grow darker the closer you listen. The boy pursuing the girl — … And I know I’m gonna steal her eye she doesn’t even know what’s wrong… — is probably a stalker, or worse.
Beck’s little joke is that he’s not singing “My summer girl” on the chorus. “Sun-eyed,” maybe. It sounds like “summer” (to me, at least) because that’s the word his melody has set me up to expect.
Footnote: I love the surprise of Beck’s acoustic slide guitar jumping up front for the interlude before the final chorus. It sounds like a tangle of conflicted urges.