Curses [Live version (a)]:
Curses I send on these countless men
Curses on their trespasses and will they never end?
Curses on their blades, on the spare and open lanes
Once I've been searching for recipe acclaim (?)
Curses on their children running all around
Making such a business while I'm resting in the ground
I might rise up to meet them when they leave this life
I might rise up to eat them when they leave this life
Curses on this valley and the lands on up ahead
I was on my way to meet them when they found me dead
And I clapped my brittle hands and I made them join my game
Now I hope they all decease in merriment and shame
Curse every word that's planted on their lips
Curse the sleek machines and their iron-colored ships
Curse every wave that pounds their wicked shore
Curse every salesman knocking on their door
And I am not a creature and I am not a dog
I have no claim to be there in the evening fog
And I am not a bone staring through the air
I have no say in anything, my tongue is barely there
Curses on curses, I see no other way
Some of them are weeping and some of them are gay
Some of them have wounds so deep, they feel no pain
Curses on their fingers and curses on their brain
"Curses" is a great, rare song Beck performed once (I know of). It appeared during his annual visit to KCRW on January 6 1995.
The song sounds very much like Woody Guthrie, except twisted. The subject of the cursing is not clear, nor is the reason for it, but that's not really necessary. There are hints that it is a bit of vengeance from beyond the grave in lines like "Curses on this valley and the lands on up ahead / I was on my way to meet them when they found me dead."
Beck has a blast singing about blades and iron-colored ships and valleys and fog. None of the modern touches and images often found in his lyrics, Beck stays firmly in character throughout the song.