Sissyneck
by Beck

Album: Odelay (1996)
Charted: 30

Songfacts®:

  • This was the fourth single taken from alternative rock artist Beck's second album, Odelay.
  • Among the samples included on this song are for the organ line, "Life" by Sly & the Family Stone and for the bass line "Apart Of Me" by Country Funk. The whistling at the beginning of the track was taken from "The Moog and Me" by American jazz pianist/keyboardist Dick Hyman.
  • Another sample Beck did initially use was from a Barbie cell phone, which was originally at the end of this song. However it had to be deleted from the final version after Mattel denied permission for its use. Beck told Pulse!: "We tried to kidnap Barbie, but Mattel has some pretty intense muscle that I wouldn't want to be locked up into. Barbie's got a mean uncle."
  • Most of Beck's lyrics place emphasis on getting an emotional response to a phrase or a bunch of words rather than telling a straight down-the-line story. He explained to Mojo: "You season things with different emotions and attitudes. That's the only way musically you can approximate the human animal - the mixture of opposites. I like to approach lyric writing as if I don't know English and I'm feeling my way around it. I try to put myself in that mode. I like the language when it's awkward."

    "A lot of the writing is inspired by hip hop, because I love the fact that there are no rules, no laws of grammar or syntax - it's all just pure thought process and disconnected poetry. I also love getting Japanese fan letters, because the way they use English is so fresh, so brand-new."

    "When I'm writing it's not a very conscious thing. I do it and I come back a few days later and it's like it was a dream or something I imagined. I try to find words that are more musical: words that are pure image tend to be more musical."

    "It's not that I'm going for anything obtuse, I'm just trying to get into something lyrically where the words reflect how one perceives and thinks and feels. That's the essence of what poetry is - it's all speculative, it's all about the life of the mind and the spirit. That's something I try to dig for. I spent years writing folk songs where this guy came along and killed five people and then they hung him and that's the end of the story. There's poetry in there, but it gets a little cut-and-dry." (The above two interviews are available at (Rock's Backpages.)
  • "It was another one of those songs that came together really quickly. That was one that started with the beat and Beck just started riffing on that," co-producer Michael Simpson (of the production team the Dust Brothers), told MusicRadar of "Sissyneck."

    "It's amazing - when you work with someone so talented - just how quickly you can write a song. And it's probably helpful for Beck to have people like us working with him because it frees him up to just, sort of free-associate when he gets on an instrument so he doesn't have to think about what he's playing; he can just go ahead and play.

    "Then you've got myself and Tom [Rothrock, producer] there as the watchdogs waiting for that golden moment. When he hits it we go, 'Oh my God, you just did it! That was it. You nailed it there.' And he's like, 'What?! No, really? I was just tuning the guitar.' And we're like, 'Whatever. You just wrote a gem there.' [Laughs]"

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