Stratosphere
by Beck

Album: Hyperspace (2019)

Songfacts®:

  • The melancholic "Stratosphere" is about Beck's close childhood friend who he lost to heroin around 2000. The young Beck Hansen looked up to him, and when he overdosed in a motel room, the singer was mortified. Beck explained to English newspaper The Sun:

    "It's about needing to escape and the lyrics are talking about heroin and that mind state of somebody wanting to numb out and go somewhere else. It's a theme throughout the record and I was thinking about hyperspace and space travel. We live in a time when it feels like the walls are closing in and there is anxiety and uncertainty."
  • So why did it take Beck 20 years to write a song about the tragedy? "I think at the time, I don't know if I would have been able to articulate how I was feeling or how would I even approach it in a song," he mused to The Independent. "In this case, it just came out of nowhere and even I was wondering and questioning what the song was about. You're trying to imagine where that person is and how they got to that place."
  • This is the only song on Hyperspace that Beck wrote and produced on his own. Most of the other tracks are collaborations with Pharrell Williams.
  • Beck capitalized on a lengthy acquaintance with Coldplay's Chris Martin (they used to play badminton at art festivals) for some backing vocals on this track.

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