Commentary

Gateway Acts: How Beck opened up a whole new world to an evangelical boy from the Midwest

Gateway Acts is a new ongoing series on Backbeat in which we examine the music that served as an entry point for our burgeoning musical obsessions, a gateway drug that tuned us in and turned us on. Today, Josiah Hesse gives up the goods on his Beck jones.

There is no way to listen to the music of Beck Hansen without, either actively or passively, becoming aware of the whole of 20th century American music. It's all in there: the Delta blues of Mississippi's John Hurt and Son House (One Foot In The Grave), the b-boy electro-hip-hop of Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa (Midnite Vultures), the lachrymose, orchestral folk of Townes Van Zandt and Nick Drake (Sea Change), the experimental art-noise of John Cage and Suicide (Stereopathetic Soulmanure) and the goofy punk-rock of the Frogs and the Butthole Surfers (Mellow Gold). For me, and surely for many others, getting into Beck albums was not only a joyful explosion of the senses, but a life-long infection of curiosity for the encyclopedic landscape of pop-music history.

See also: - Anton Newcombe on Beck, living in Germany and Bright Channel - Beckstra! Beckstra! Have you heard about Beck's record club? - Velvet Underground & Nico turns 45 today

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Josiah M. Hesse
Contact: Josiah M. Hesse