What is 'The Beat' about ?

Pretty self-explanatory
when i was cruel
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What is 'The Beat' about ?

Postby when i was cruel » Fri Nov 19, 2010 7:33 pm

I am stumped any answers ?
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Neil.
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Re: What is 'The Beat' about ?

Postby Neil. » Fri Nov 19, 2010 7:50 pm

LOL, LOL - great question!

I love The Beat, and think it's one of the highlights of the album. It's one of the best opening lines of his career, if you're British (Cliff Richard was a huge star here, and has always been the pinnacle of wholesomeness, and one of his hits, Summer Holiday, starts with the line 'We're all goin' on a summer holiday". Elvis following that line with "vigilante's coming out to follow me" is a hilarious subversion of Cliff's unthreatening, sunny public image.

Here's Cliff in action, singing that very song (after a short intro) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gbajf_rHzys

I don't know what The Beat is about, but his impressionistic lyrics at that age are fine as a kaleidoscope of images, emotions, expressions of contempt, anger, feelings of betrayal etc... I don't think they add up to a story, really.

That said, it's Friday night, I'm drunk, and I can't even remember the lyrics beyond the first line, and the famous 'I keep thinking about your mother - oh, I don't wanna lick them. I don't wanna be your lover - I just wanna be your victim.' So I might give this a try when I'm a bit more sober!

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wardo68
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Re: What is 'The Beat' about ?

Postby wardo68 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 8:45 am

There's an essay by Dave Marsh in Stranded (edited by Greil Marcus) wherein he insists that The Beat is about "wanking".

http://books.google.com/books?id=JNctDA ... &q&f=false


Personally I think it's just Elvis amped on coffee and God knows what else, playing with words.

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verbal gymnastics
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Re: What is 'The Beat' about ?

Postby verbal gymnastics » Sat Nov 20, 2010 9:23 am

I'm sure I read that it's about self abuse

"Have you been a good boy
Have you played it your toy?"

And Neil. Are you drunk AGAIN?! :lol: :mrgreen:

It beats my evening of nappy changing and "Daddy I want some water"!
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Re: What is 'The Beat' about ?

Postby Neil. » Sat Nov 20, 2010 8:37 pm

Verbal, alas, I was drunk again, last night! And, replying to your query about my being drunk last night - I am drunk again, tonight! Yes, was out on the lash again, so have nothing coherent to add about the classic This Year's Model track yet - apart from to say I LOVE IT!!!!

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LessThanZero
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Re: What is 'The Beat' about ?

Postby LessThanZero » Sat Nov 20, 2010 9:53 pm

I'm with VG. Getting drunk is just not practical at this stage in my life. Wife working 3rd shift. 2 little boys who wake up during the night ALL THE TIME.
Loving this board since before When I Was Cruel.

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migdd
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Re: What is 'The Beat' about ?

Postby migdd » Sat Nov 20, 2010 10:44 pm

Hey LTZ! How are the kids? As a proud papa of a 14-year-old girly and 12-year-old car-freak son, all I can offer is enjoy it while you have it. Time flies and soon they are nearly grown.

And, yeah, The Beat is about . . . well whatever. But what a beat!

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Re: What is 'The Beat' about ?

Postby sulky lad » Sun Nov 21, 2010 4:29 am

So if it is about wanking, what does the stuttering rhythm mean - it's not like slowly building to a climax (pun intended) , and the little instrumental bit ( especially noticeable on live performances between 1977-79) all have a sort of staggering movement. I don't want to proclaim or indeed infer that I have a particular technique in this field, you understand but here's a case where the words and the music tell a different story if indeed it is about "self-abuse" !

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Re: What is 'The Beat' about ?

Postby Poor Deportee » Sun Nov 21, 2010 12:27 pm

It does seem to make sense as a song about masturbation - a typically ECish examination of the emotionally immature psyche. The 'other' being addressed in this song seems to be someone with whom the narrator is incapable of sustaining an actual love relationship. They both seems to be terrified of intimacy while craving it ('there's only one thing wrong with you befriending me' - the old, 'let's be friends because we're too scared to be lovers' gambit; she is passively 'waiting for a call' just like he is; the self-excusing 'see your friends getting taken in' argument that love is a mug's game; 'stop looking at the scenery' amounting to the closest he comes to a come-on; the toxic (and frankly brilliant, from a lyric-writing point of view) misdirection of 'I keep thinking about your mother;' and the last four couplets signalling a poisonous combination of isolation and longing. Add to that lines like 'anybody wanna swallow me' :oops: and remarks about 'two to tumble/tango,' plus the obvious pun with in title phrase ['beat'] and you've got a portrait of a basically adolescent dilemma.

The only glimmer of hope must lie in the final lines of the final verse: did you think you were the only one who was waiting for a call? At face value, this would be the cry of the emotionally crippled male who is terrified of asking the girl out, of making the first move. But it could also be read as a confessional moment, a moment of bona-fide mutual communication - an admission. I wouldn't want to push this reading though; that line could be taken in a variety of ways. And the end ('your friends treat me like a stranger...nothing here has changed, just the beat') suggests some sort of aborted resolution. Perhaps after his desperate confession, she pushed him away. Ugh.

THE BEAT

We're all going on a summer holiday
Vigilante's coming out to follow me.
Heard somebody say they're out to collar me.
Anybody wanna swallow me?
It takes two to tumble. It takes two to tango.
Speak up; don't mumble if you're in the combo.

On the beat, on the beat.
Till a man comes along and he says,
'Have you been a good boy, never played with your toy?
Though you never enjoy, such a pleasure to employ.'

See your friends in the state their in.
See your friends getting under their skin.
See your friends getting taken in.

Well, if you only knew the things you do to me.
I'd do anything to confuse the enemy.
There's only one thing wrong with you befriending me.
Take it easy. I think you're bending me.

I've been a bad boy with the standard leader.
My neighbor's revving up his Vauxhall Viva.

On the beat, on the upbeat.
Till a man comes along and he says,
'Have you been a good boy, never played with your toy?
Though you never enjoy, such a pleasure to employ.'

See your friends walking down the street.
See your friends never quite complete.
See your friends getting under their feet.

Oh, I don't want to disease you,
but I'm no good with machinery.
Oh, I don't wanna freeze you.
Stop looking at the scenery.
I keep thinking about your mother.
Oh, I don't wanna lick them.
I don't wanna be a lover.
I just wanna be your victim.
I don't go out much at night.
I don't go out much at all.
Did you think you were the only one
who was waiting for a call

On the beat, on the upbeat.
Till a man comes along and he says,
'Have you been a good boy, never played with your toy?
Though you never enjoy, such a pleasure to employ.'

See your friends treat me like a stranger.
See your friends despite all the arrangements.
See your friends Nothing here has changed.
Just the beat.
When man has destroyed what he thinks he owns
I hope no living thing cries over his bones

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Re: What is 'The Beat' about ?

Postby ReadyToHearTheWorst » Sun Nov 21, 2010 6:54 pm

As well as the 'Summer Holiday' reference aleady mentioned, there may also be a reference to Sir Cliff's 'On the Beach' (an otherwise p!ss poor parody of the original Elvis in beach party mode). Also, the chorus contains a nod to The Kinks 'See My friends'.
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LessThanZero
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Re: What is 'The Beat' about ?

Postby LessThanZero » Sun Nov 21, 2010 8:41 pm

migdd wrote:Hey LTZ! How are the kids? As a proud papa of a 14-year-old girly and 12-year-old car-freak son, all I can offer is enjoy it while you have it. Time flies and soon they are nearly grown.

And, yeah, The Beat is about . . . well whatever. But what a beat!



migdd, life is good here! I mean...besides being an unemployed Detroit Lions fan...my boys are amazing. I'm the helper at preschool tomorrow, and this particular preschool doesn't have a liquor license.

4-year old Jude is obsessed with baseball and football. 1-year old Levi is a CLIMBER!!

Always a good reminder to enjoy the moment though; thank you!
Loving this board since before When I Was Cruel.

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Re: What is 'The Beat' about ?

Postby alexv » Mon Nov 22, 2010 3:20 pm

A lyric analysis of The Beat!! On another thread folks have been poring over the lyrics to some of NR’s songs. It’s nice to take a break from that, and look at lyrics from a bygone era, a much simpler era when EC wasn’t concerned with an impending economic collapse that mirrors events of the past that can best be understood/withstood through the power of music … and all that jazz.

Instead, it’s the 70s baby, and it’s all about wanking, emotional fascism, and good old put downs.

First, he makes fun of silly old Cliff, and throws in the first dirty bit: who wants to swallow me? It takes two to tango, and hey what a nice opportunity to do a combo rhyme? Then, more naughty bits: play with your toy? Pleasure to employ? But let’s bring in The Man, since adults always spoil a good time. Why is everybody always picking on me?

Then, more put downs. This time it’s his friends who just don’t get it.

Then more naughty bits: you want to befriend me? Be careful you are bending me/it? Nice.

The next part stumped me back in the day. I had no clue Vauxhall Viva was a car or that standard leader was an SS title (that’s what some guy on the web says, anyway). What’s this bit about: he was thinking about emotional fascism and got startled by a neighbor and his car? Threw it all in anyway, cause at the time no one could make out his lyrics and this songs is really about the beat.

More stuff about clueless friends, and then my favorite line: disease you/machinery. What’s that about? I say it’s about condoms, and a pretty fine line it is. I think now he’s talking not about wanking but about shagging. And the girl, typical EC femme, is not paying attention, jus taking in the scenery. I hate it when that happens. So what does he do? Starts thinking about her mother. That will do it just about every time. Revenge and guilt.

The next part, kind of famous after all these years is classic nerdy/avenging angel EC: I’m a victim; I don’t go out; nobody loves me. A lot of folks turned to Morrissey as a soul mate in the early 80s; a lot of folks turned to EC in the 70s based on this line. Sigh.

And then it ends.

To me, the song is a great EC song, even though it’s a silly mess. It’s full of fun wordplay, restless youthful energy, obsessed with sex and power, incapable of expressing itself clearly, and, most of all, built around an irresistible beat. I love NR, but nothing in it compares to this.

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Re: What is 'The Beat' about ?

Postby bambooneedle » Tue Nov 23, 2010 6:40 am

^
Suitably masturbatory

Ulster Boy
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Re: What is 'The Beat' about ?

Postby Ulster Boy » Wed Nov 24, 2010 2:23 pm

Interesting, never thought of it that way. Similar to The Undertones "Teenage Kicks" ("Are teenage dreams so hard to beat...?"), though they denied it.


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