As a teenager, I defined myself through the music I listened to. Beck’s music was a big part of my angst-ridden, does she love or not, early years. Stretching from the illustrious dirty beats of Odelay to the tropical-flavoured tinge of Mutations and 2002’s emotive, haunting Sea Change, I had found an artist whose music actually stuck to me; sounds that hooked into parts of my heart and dug in.
I went to high school in a suburb of Halifax. Beck wasn’t that popular where I lived. I don’t even recall talking about him with any of my friends at the time. The music scene was largely driven by the heavy distorted sound of pop-punk bands. I felt they offered nothing except access to a certain type of popularity.
I didn’t think it was possible for music to change your life. I didn’t think music was strong enough to get under my skin and make me feel. How could an album much less a song shift the entire direction of your life?
I was about to find out.
I went on a blind date when I was 17. I don’t remember much about her anymore except for her long brown hair that finished flowing by her waist. She drove a green jeep with winter tires on year-round. She was a friend of a girl I worked with at the time who thought that we might hit it off. We didn’t.
The date was uneventful. Popped in to see a movie, grabbed some fast food and drove around talking about nothing. It was pretty evident early on there was to be no romance. We actually laughed about it, which eased the tension tenfold. Neither of us wanted to date anyway.
We drove into an empty parking lot, near the centre so the lights wouldn’t shine too brightly into the jeep. We put the seats down and just laid there. She asked me if I had ever heard of Beck. I replied saying I had only heard Loser and Devil’s Haircut.
She said his newest album Sea Change would change my life. I laughed.
She slid the disc in and as cliche as it sounds, my journey into adulthood started. From the first strum of the open E chord, I knew this was important. Like the album title, this seriously shifted my perspective on what music was and what it could do. I listened to that album five more times that night after she dropped me off at home. I never saw her again.
I moved away to college shortly thereafter, made new connections and met one exceptional woman who I just recently celebrated 10 years of togetherness with. Beck’s music gave me confidence, inspired quirkiness and fostered creativity.
I felt Sea Change was the only collection of songs that could cause a reaction, no matter where I was and what I was feeling. Despite it’s sombre message and gloomy nature, it always felt good to listen to. Now I have Morning Phase, a straightforward continuation of Sea Change. He and his band picked up where they left off and if you interchanged the songs, you wouldn’t be able to tell which album they belong on. The songs are simply beautiful.
Eleven years, one wife and three kids later, I’m curious to see how this album will shift the direction of my life.