The Archives : Beck "Mellow Gold" (1994)

1994 is probably the year that music kinda became my life. It was the spring of '94 when I first heard Uncle Tupelo in a dumpy apartment on South Street in Boston. It was only a few days later or maybe earlier, that I arrived home from class for our almost daily smoking and drinking sessions, and learned that Kurt Cobain had died. I was never a big fan of Nirvana, but it was still pretty crappy news. In the summer of '94, I bought all four Uncle Tupelo records and subsequently dove into The Jayhawks, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, The Replacments, Husker Du and any band or artist that was even mentioned in an article about Uncle Tupelo.

All that said, the record I listened to most in 1994 had to be Beck's Mellow Gold. Yeah, "Loser" was the big hit, and I liked that track, but it was the rest of the record that served as a soundtrack to my first of three years living in Boston. "Nitemare Hippy Girl" was my favorite track. I couldn't count the number of times I tossed out a 330am shout to the person near the stereo demanding this song. I can vividly recall sitting shotgun in my buddy's truck, driving down Boylston shouting the lyrics, "She's a magical sparklin' tease. She's a rainbow chokin' the breeze. She's bustin' out onto the scene. With nightmare bogus poetry. She's a melted avocado on the shelf. She's a science of herself. She's spazzing out on a cosmic level. And she's meditating with the devil." "Beercan," of course had the silly college-boy title, but it was the song that I loved. I was quickly departing my love of early hip hop, but Beck reignited that, as he was the best hip hop artist I'd heard in years. He was as good as Big Daddy Kane or Eric B. & Rakim, but had a huge touch of Bob Dylan. "I quit my job blowing leaves. Telephone bills up my sleeves. Choking like a one-man dustbowl. Freedom rock slimeball, talking in code. We went down." Man.

It was years before I'd tire of this record. Every time I went back, I found more. "Fuckin' With My Head (Mountain Dew Rock)" sounded like, ummmm, I really don't know. I heard influences all over the map on this record. But it was so damn original and so full of life and fire. "Pay No Mind (Snoozer)" served as the perfect follow-up to the hit. It's almost unimaginable to me that May will mark 16 years since this record was released. Most point to 1996's Odelay or 2002's Sea Change as Beck's best works, but to my ears, Mellow Gold is his best. It was and remains a record that grabbed not only all of Beck's influences, but all the sounds that moved me, from rock and folk to hip hop and soul, and the result was a damn masterpiece.