Nausea
By: Beck Hansen
Written by: Beck Hansen

Versions:
  1. Nausea
    Available on The Information and 2 other releases.
    Credits
    Nigel Godrich: Mix, Producer
    Beck Hansen: Vocals
  2. Nausea: The Chap Remix (3:55)
    a.k.a. Nausea (The Chap Remix)
    Available on The Information and 1 other release.
    Credits
    The Chap: Remix
  3.  
  4. Nausea Pirates Mix: Bumblebeez Remix (2:28)
    Available on The Information.
    Credits
    Ja Ruler: Guitar
    The Bum Squad: Guitar
    Invisibl: Producer
Unofficial Versions: [show/hide]
  1. Nausea (XXXChange remix) (3:53)
    Credits
    XXXChange: Remix
  2.  
 
 
Lyrics:
Nausea [Version (a)]:

1, 2, 3, 4

I'm a seasick sailor
On a ship of noise
I got my maps all backwards
And my instincts poisoned
In a truth blown gutter
Full of wasted years
Like blown-out speakers
Ringin' in my ears

Oh it's nausea, oh nausea
And we're gone
It's nausea, oh nausea
And we're gone

Now I'm a straight-line walker
In a black-out room
I push a shopping cart over
In an Aztec ruin
With my minion fingers
Working for some God
Who could see his own reflection
In a parking lot

Oh it's nausea, oh nausea
And we're gone
No it's nausea, oh nausea
And we're gone

Now I'm a priest teenager
On a tower of dust
I'm a dead generator
In a cloud of exhaust
I eat alone in the desert
With skulls for my pets
I rate the days, one to ten
With lead cigarettes

It's nausea, oh nausea
And we're gone
It's nausea, oh nausea
And we're gone
 
The Song:

"Nausea" is sort of a funky acoustic song on record with lots of percussion. Beck said he wanted the song "to sound like The Stooges in South America." (On stage, they play it more just like The Stooges.)

Beck said the music for this song came quickly, as part of a 7-day marathon of jamming and writing and then going back and taking bits of the jam and expanding. He also said on stage in May 2006 that he'd written it a couple of years before, so it must have been part of one of the earlier Information sessions.

Around this time, and throughout The Information, Beck seemed to be very interested in French philosophy and literature. There's lyrical references in songs like "Landslide" to French existential novels, and "Nausea"'s title is as well (Nausea is an incredible novel by Jean-Paul Sartre).

I don't believe there are any direct references to Sartre's novel beyond the title here, but the song does seem to be about a similar absurdist search for meaning. The main character in the novel suffers from a feeling of nausea whenever he attempts to define himself, be it through work, memories, love, or even items in nature (like a tree). His final revelation is the underlying absurdism of life. Objects do not have any inherent meaning, unless people provide it to them. People, then, must also provide their own meaning, which in turn allows people to feel free. This is the classic definition of existentialism.

Beck's song is less about a search specifically, though it is full of lines about defining himself. The first verse is a mixed metaphor about a musician/sailor, sounding very much like Beck is tired of the road life. (He has a few other songs around then that were more specifically about this, like "Movie Theme.")

Later verses are a little more absurd, but Beck again seems to defining his feelings of being out of place ("I push a shopping cart over in an Aztec ruin") and weary ("I'm a dead generator in a cloud of exhaust"). He continues to try to define himself via meaningless work filling his wasted years ("rate the days, one to ten, with lead cigarettes").
 
Live:

Played live 94 times:
Earliest known live version: May 24, 2006
Latest known live version: October 12, 2017

"Nausea" was played quite regularly for a couple of tours after it was released, but since, it has been dropped.

2006-2007 Info tours

"Nausea" made its debut on May 24, 2006 in Davis, CA. 2006's summer tour was before the album came out, but Beck still played some of the songs. Beck played "Nausea" at most every show in this time. It was less the acoustic-based song as it is on the record, but more of regular rock song. Similar high energy though.

2008-2009 Modern Guilt tours

Beck continued with the song regularly, at about 80% of his shows behind Modern Guilt. He liked to race through some of his rock songs all in a row to open these shows, and "Nausea" was one of them.

2011-2013 pre-Morning Phase tours

Beck took some time off for a few years, and slowly made a return in 2011 with five shows. "Nausea" showed up at two of those. Then in 2012, there were are a few more smaller legs, but they just played "Nausea" once at a gig in Australia. It has not been played since.

2017 post-Morning Phase

While my previous sentence that "Nausea" has not been played so far continues to be technically true, Beck did post a very short clip on Instagram in August 2017 of his guitarist, Jason Falkner. On the clip, he wrote something like "Nausea back to life." So... we shall have to see if it makes a return to the setlists or what!