i sing the body thetan

I was looking into recent comments made by actress Jena Elfman (something about her goal in life being to clear the planet of an alien species known as body thetans), when I stumbled across this interesting little page about Beck Hanson’s life-long relationship with Scientology. It’s pretty interesting stuff. Even if it’s only half-true, it makes me feel sorry for the guy. (Of course, it could be worse. Instead of believing in the lurking threat of body thetans he could share the beliefs of Kid Rock.)

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  1. be OH be
    Posted March 1, 2005 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    I felt a little sorry for him considering he had been brought up in the cult and didn’t know any better. But it sounds as though he was not so connected for a while (his most creative period) and then went back in. Fuck him.
    I had a lot more respect for him before reading that article.

  2. mark
    Posted March 1, 2005 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    Knowing that he was born into Scientology makes me have a lot more empathy toward him. The story didn

  3. chris
    Posted March 1, 2005 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    Sir, we ask that you remove this post from your site immediately. It is our understanding that you are not on the guest list, as it were, and threfoe can have no knowledge of Mr. Campbell’s actual creed or religious preference.

    If you continue this post we will be obligated to have you served…not with papers reg. legal proceedings…but with an apple in your mouth.

    The Church
    and friends of Elron

  4. Posted March 2, 2005 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    You almost wish she were still just a hippie/Dharma.

  5. Teddy Glass
    Posted March 2, 2005 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    I just shit out what I think might have been a Body Thetan.

  6. Mickey
    Posted March 2, 2005 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    I am not persuaded that Scientology is a cult, nor am I persuaded that Beck has been seduced by it.

    People fear the unknown, and because little is known about Scientology, due to the private natures of its members, people fear Scientology.

    In past ages, people believed early Christians practiced cannibalism and engaged in orgies because early Christianity was such a secretive movement. Similarly, the Freemasons have been persecuted and misunderstood for centuries. Now, the Scientologists. People always fear the unknown, and presume the worst.

    Furthermore, I am unpersuaded Beck is a Scientologist. As the article itself states, Beck has consistently been involved in charity work, such as recent tsunami relief efforts, which is forbidden by Scientology.

    In support of his assertion that Beck is a Scientologist, the author of the article states that Beck has always been secretive and evasive about his involvement with Scientology. He states Beck’s standard answer to questions regarding his membership in the Church of Scientology is, “No Comment, from which the reader is to infer that Beck is a Scientologist, but intends to conceal his membership by refusing to comment.

    It is a logical fallacy, however, to suppose that a lack of evidence is actually evidence, and “No comment” is tantamount to “No evidence.”

    My theory is this: Beck refuses to discuss his personal life because he enjoys, as we all do, A LITTLE PRIVACY.

  7. mark
    Posted March 2, 2005 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    My knowledge of Scientology comes primarily from the comments of former members as relayed through the Operation Clambake site. And, while I

  8. Posted March 4, 2005 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    I had to wait for a bus in front of the Eastern Headquarters of the “Church” of Scientology every day. It is a cult. No question.

  9. moontaco
    Posted March 14, 2005 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Mickey posts that he is “unpersuaded” that Beck is a Scientologist.

    1. Beck appeared on the Church of Scientology’s list of patrons (donors who had bought a lifetime membership) in early 2003.

    2. Beck himself spoke of being a Scientologist in last Sunday’s New York Times (3/6/05 edition).

    Persuaded now?

  10. stella
    Posted March 14, 2005 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    man, a life of boycotting/avoiding – Kirstie Ally, John Travolta, Jenna Elfman and Tom Cruise is just a far better life overall, but when it comes to Beck and Isaac Hayes it just makes me sad.
    And it IS a cult , my brother and ex-husband are supressed people, so its not a guessing game or problem of semantics. It has (not exact figures but to give an idea) like 60 of the 100 indicators of a cult, and thats just from KNOWN info

  11. Mark Etingshame
    Posted March 22, 2005 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Beck stated in the New York Time in March that he supports the Scientology drug and prison program. Anything like these two (Narconon is the drug rehab) use a Scientology members sauna detoxification progam. Same thing that Scientology members use called the purification rundown.

    Here’s the consumer heads up

    Scientology was disallowed to teach the drug prevention portion of these same programs in the California public schools in February 2005.


    That speaks of the programs we hear numerous Scientology entertainers casually dropping in news articles. What they were teaching in the schools is what they actually teach and practice in the programs. Unscientific and irresponsible.


  12. Illegal Alien
    Posted March 31, 2005 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    There is more to the Body Thetans (BT’s)idea according to the founder, L Ron Hubbard’s previous studies in Aleister Crowley.

    Can you thay THETAN?

    Scientology and the Occult

  13. Stinky McGoo
    Posted March 31, 2005 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Beck at a Certain Age

    By Arthur Lubow

    As a teenager, Beck Hansen would board the bus in a Latin neighborhood just south of downtown Los Angeles, where he lived with his mother and brother. He was a pale, blond, slightly built kid, with narrow shoulders and no hips. Mostly, he was ignored, but occasionally, someone on the street would shout, ”Guero!” (”White boy!”). In his late teens, he grew his hair long. ”Sometimes they would whistle at me,” he recalls. ”They would think I was a girl.”

    The bus was coming from the South Central ghetto, heading north toward Hollywood. By the end of the ride, it would be filled with people from disparate worlds, side by side, on their way to school or work. When Beck, who is 34, talks about it now, instead of a city bus it might be his own eclectic music he is describing: an assortment of wildly incongruous cultures, jostling and colliding, intent on getting somewhere.

    Had he been born a generation earlier, Beck (he dropped the Hansen when he started performing) would most likely have been a folk singer with a guitar strapped over his shoulder and a penchant for wryly autobiographical or protest songs. Instead, even after releasing five far-ranging and well-received major-label CD’s, he is still best known for his early single, ”Loser,” from 1993. ”Loser” is a white-boy rap song, with an infectious recurring melody that vaguely recalls the close of the Beatles’ ”Hey, Jude.” Its deadpan refrain — ”I’m a loser, baby, so why don’t you kill me” — became a slacker mantra of the 90’s. Was he serious or joking? The question itself seems generationally dated. Every either-or inquiry that you put to Beck or apply to his songs is resolved with a ”maybe” or a ”both.”

    The man himself has a calm, earnest manner that takes in much more than it gives out. His blue eyes seem as big as satellite dishes. He listens so intently that the auditory act is almost audible. He is quietly polite; and, much as the exquisite manners of the Japanese preserve their privacy from outsiders, his courtesy acts as a moat. In the ”Loser” spirit of semi-serious self-deprecation, his latest album — which will be released later this month — is called ”Guero.” Although he would have a hard time these days passing for a loser, as a rapper Beck remains, most definitely, a guero.

    Beck’s jokey, jivey sound is disarming, like the patter of a scrawny kid who can’t make the football team but uses wit to insinuate himself into the in-crowd. The poetic associations of his rap owe more to Bob Dylan’s ”Mr. Tambourine Man” and ”Subterranean Homesick Blues” than to the hip-hop of Jay-Z or Snoop Dogg. He is musically omnivorous. Having introduced his collagist style on ”Mellow Gold,” the major-label debut album that revealed he was more than a one-hit wonder, he enriched things musically on his second major release, ”Odelay,” with forays into blues, country and hard rock, overlaid with multiple scrims of synthesizer distortion and D.J. scratching, all refracted through his distinctive sensibility. Most of the instrumental tracks he laid down himself, playing not only guitar (acoustic, electric, slide, bass) but also drums and keyboards. In the studio, he is quietly professional, but onstage with a band, he transforms into a dervish of upbeat energy. ”He’s not a virtuoso musician, but the stuff he plays is so soulful and emotional and meaningful,” says Mike Simpson, one-half of the Dust Brothers team that helped produce ”Odelay” and ”Guero.”

    Is Beck original or derivative? It is a question that has dogged him from the beginning, and he responds with resigned exasperation: ”I don’t think I’ve written a song where someone in my band or an engineer doesn’t go” — and he whistles a few bars sarcastically — ”’Oh, that sounds like that Allman Brothers song.’ In my defense, whatever it sounds like, I haven’t heard. There’s certain conventions if you’re playing acoustic guitar and it’s an open tuning, and you’ll stumble on things that other people have done. I’m focused on imagery, on ideas that are important to me.” While Beck incorporates the idioms of popular American music, especially black music, into his compositions, he manages to produce work that bears recognizable traces of its origins yet stays unmistakably his own. As his career advances, the question is shifting from ”How much does this record sound like other people’s records?” to ”How much does the new one sound like the old ones?”

    A decade or so ago, when Beck emerged on the scene, the music industry was uncertain which would dominate the future — the alternative rock of Nirvana and Pearl Jam or the rap of Public Enemy and Tupac. As a look at any week’s Billboard will tell you, that confusion has ended. Rap rules. Whether Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes is the next Dylan is a debate topic for critics; whether the Game is the next Nelly is what matters to the broader, youth-driven culture and the industry executives who fuel it.

    With precarious grace, Beck straddles both worlds. As a white man stretching the parameters of black hip-hop music, he is far from alone: both the Beastie Boys and Eminem, for example, dwarf him in the marketplace. But as an heir to the singer-songwriter tradition who is composing to a hip-hop beat, Beck is essentially unique. On ”Mellow Gold,” he combined acoustic and slide guitar with rap rhythms in a style that was surprising back then and as ubiquitous as Muzak now. A decade later, in several songs on ”Guero,” he is nudging his boundaries further, by exploring grown-up feelings of hurt, disillusionment and ambivalence, in the setting of a loop-generated beat.

    His last outing was ”Sea Change,” a record of intimate ballads sung with a live band and produced with minimal studio manipulation. Released in 2002, it constituted — as its title suggests — a radical departure from Beck’s previous albums. To make it, Beck came into the studio with songs, written a couple of years earlier, that chronicled his emotional depletion at the breakup of a nine-year relationship with Leigh Limon, a clothing designer. The songs on ”Sea Change” are naked depictions of pain. So I was a little mystified when Mark Kates, a former Geffen Records executive, told me, ”With ‘Sea Change,’ I really feared his ability to reach people.” What could he mean? How could the songs from ”Sea Change” — in which a typical line is ”Your sorry eyes, they cut through bone/They make it hard to leave you alone” — be less accessible than a lyric like ”Heads are hanging from the garbageman trees/Mouthwash, jukebox, gasoline,” which comes from ”Odelay” — the disc that won him two Grammys? As it turned out, ”Sea Change” was a critical and commercial hit, but Kates didn’t worry alone. No one was more anxious than Beck. He had written such material before but hesitated to release it. ”I didn’t think it was worthy or that people would be interested,” he says.

    The new record returns to the sound of ”Odelay” — but with a difference. Beck has retained the ambitions of ”Sea Change.” ”I really wanted to bring that kind of vulnerability and emotional quality into this record,” Beck says. ”My tendency when there’s beats is to do something that’s humorous and off the cuff and throwaway.” Humor is a defense mechanism. It could be that Beck titled the new record with a derogatory slang term for ”white boy” because he is still adjusting to the fact that he is an adult — with a wife, a baby and a house — who is ready to tackle grown-up themes in his music.

    During the nine-month recording of ”Guero,” several significant events occurred in Beck’s life: his girlfriend, Marissa Ribisi, became pregnant; they were married; their son, Cosimo, was born; and they moved out of Silver Lake, a trendy neighborhood near downtown, to a nearby district that boasts staider, grander houses.

    When Beck moved to Silver Lake in the late 80’s, it wasn’t trendy at all. It was a backwater — but it did offer cheap housing, a significant draw for a high-school dropout without a steady paycheck. You could measure how Beck and Silver Lake have gentrified (while holding onto a few scuff marks) at a concert he gave there in January in a club called Spaceland. He was trying out a new band with a few songs from ”Guero.” Although the show was unannounced, word inevitably leaked out, and many fans were still waiting outside futilely for admission when it began. With a tangled gold nimbus of hair and a scraggly adolescent beard, wearing a black pinstripe jacket and black jeans, Beck sang and played guitar (and occasionally donned headphones to work a record on the turntable) with purposeful focus. At times, a big smile would flit across his face. He seemed to be having fun. The crowd was made up of college kids and young professionals, those who could afford to live in what is now a high-rent neighborhood or would be able to someday. Still, the vibe in Spaceland had not changed much since the time that Simpson of the Dust Brothers first saw Beck perform there, just before the ”Loser” tour. ”I was blown away by the energy in the small club,” Simpson recalls. ”It was like Bob Dylan fronting a punk-rock band.”

    Beck comes from a distinguished line of penniless artists. His mother, Bibbe Hansen, has worked on the fringes of the performing arts, most notably as Edie Sedgwick’s 13-year-old costar in Andy Warhol’s film ”Prison.” Bibbe’s father, Al Hansen, was a founder in the early 60’s of the Fluxus art movement, whose more celebrated exponents include Yoko Ono and Nam June Paik. Fluxus artists worked outside the commercial art galleries. They liked to send pieces through the mail and to create art kits that required active participation by users. They staged ”happenings,” which we would now call performance art. They prized spontaneity. Al’s specialty was collage and assemblage: he made countless female nudes out of materials like chocolate-bar wrappers and cigarette butts.

    On the other side of the family, Beck’s father, David Campbell, is the son of a Presbyterian minister. A classically trained violist and successful L.A. studio musician, he has composed string arrangements for artists as various as Jackson Browne, Celine Dion, Green Day, Hole and Linkin Park. When Beck was young, Bibbe and David were divorced. Beck took his mother’s last name and lived with her until, as a teenager, he crossed the country to New York and tried without success to find a toehold in the alternative-music scene there.

    Returning to his hometown, Los Angeles, he made the rounds of rock clubs with his acoustic guitar and received a similarly disheartening response. ”Usually, they would just take one look and turn me flat down,” he says. ”At that time, acoustic music was associated with more of a 70’s, singer-songwriter scene that was out of fashion. It was a punk ethos, people playing on oil drums and being as loud and heavy as possible. Eventually, the bands took pity and said, ‘Come and play while we set up.’ I always had a guitar with me. I would play songs I had written over the last couple of weeks. They were novelty-esque compositions, so I’d get a laugh.” His quirky mini-sets won Beck a local reputation. ”Before ‘Loser’ came out, there was the legend of Beck among all of us in Silver Lake,” says Simpson, who shared a house in the neighborhood with his fellow Dust Brother, John King. For one of his fabled gigs, Beck covered the stage with leaves and hooked up a leaf-blower, which belched out smoke and then noisily blew the leaves into the audience; at that point, Beck read a friend’s poem and improvised his own versions of it. ”I was coming at it from a performance aspect, but it would get translated into ‘wacky,”’ he says. ”I think this was when record companies were starting to come along.” It was, he said, ”a way of frightening them off. A couple of them who weren’t asphyxiated stayed around.”

    ”Loser” was released as a 12-inch vinyl single on a tiny label and provoked a local radio sensation. Three major record companies went after Beck. He signed with Geffen in part because its executives agreed to his unorthodox demand for permission to issue experimental records with small independent labels. He took advantage of that freedom on the two albums immediately after ”Mellow Gold,” but, finding that he could genre-hop promiscuously without alienating his audience, he released all the subsequent ones on Geffen. He has established his identity as a chameleon who changes color but maintains his shape. For ”Mutations,” which followed ”Odelay,” he worked with Radiohead’s producer, Nigel Godrich, venturing into such far-flung territories as blues-inflected rock, Brazilian pop, art rock (with a harpsichord and string ensemble arranged by his father) and Gram Parsons-style country. Somehow it all sounds like Beck. The most memorable song on the album is one that Beck says he mistrusted and didn’t plan to record — ”Nobody’s Fault But My Own,” a heartfelt ballad with a nostalgic trippy drone that in its emotional immediacy foreshadowed ”Sea Change.”

    Conforming to what has settled into a pendulum oscillation, he followed ”Mutations” with an album that radiates fun — ”Midnite Vultures,” an R&B party record that, maybe because fans and critics misguidedly worried whether it was serious or a goof, never won the audience it deserved. (A D.J. subsequently ”mashed” its outstanding track, the sexy and hilarious ”Debra,” into a duet with the hip-hop singer Pharrell Williams’s ”Frontin,’ ” and with Beck’s encouragement released it on iTunes as ”Frontin’ on Debra,” to remarkably good effect.) For ”Midnite Vultures,” Beck worked concurrently in different studios with different producers (including the Dust Brothers). But on the mournful ”Sea Change,” he completely changed the pace. He recorded it with one producer (Godrich) in a room with other musicians. ”Some songs are live as you hear it,” Beck says. ”If you blow a vocal or sing a wrong note, that’s the way it’s going to be.”

    Going back to work with the Dust Brothers for ”Guero” ensured he would end up with an album very different from ”Sea Change.” (Typically, Beck has already begun recording his next release, which is another collaboration with Godrich.) Instead of showing up at the studio with a list of songs, Beck came each day with a sense of a sound he was seeking and then set out to find the right beat. ”D.J.’s or hip-hop producers will have tons of beats, a kick from here and two snares from there,” he explains. ”It’s put into a MPC-2000” — a sampling drum machine — ”and it becomes an abstract hybrid. We’d go through those and find a beat. I’ll think, I want . . . something greasy and choppy, or like old soul but really modern.” The three would build the song up, layer by layer. (They share the writing credits.)

    ”John’s and my forte is finding a one- or two-bar groove off someone’s record and repeating it over and over,” says Simpson, whose duo produced the Beastie Boys’ ”Paul’s Boutique” as well as tracks by Coolio, Korn and other rappers and rock bands. ”Working with rappers, that was enough to get a song started: we left it up to a vocalist to define a verse and chorus. The thing that was so beautiful with Beck is he brought all these musical dimensions. They matriculated and became real songs.” As King says: ”He’ll take something that most other artists wouldn’t know what to do with but which we think sounds really cool. He’s so talented and open-minded, he could just run with anything we gave him.”

    For the new album, the Dust Brothers retrieved a song they had started for ”Midnite Vultures” but never completed. ”It was a masterpiece of sound, confusing and all over the place,” King says. ”Beck really liked the chorus, and we planned on finishing it, but he said, ‘This is what I like,’ so we stripped away everything but the keyboard, and a bass that we eventually replaced. I pulled up a new beat, and something was happening that was infectious, and we felt we could listen to it all day. Beck began jamming acoustic guitar over it. That became ‘Girl.’ ” A sunny California-style pop song, ”Girl” sounds nothing like the mass of sound — King calls it ”a headache song” — that generated it. Indeed, the end result was so pleasant that Beck kept darkening the lyrics, until it is now seemingly narrated by a serial killer of women. ”I saw her with her black tongue tied round the roses,” Beck sings affably, in that voice that manages to be both generic and instantly recognizable. ”Walking crooked down the beach she spits on the sand where their bones are bleaching.” (Beck insists that it is ”supposed to be a romantic song with all this rough imagery, like Bukowski.”)

    Far removed from the singer-songwriter cliche of composing on a guitar late at night in a hotel room, the beat-driven way of songwriting might seem impersonal, but that’s misleading. What it really resembles is a painterly process. Francis Bacon, for example, would make marks on a canvas until, discerning something that intrigued him, he began to build up an image; the technique provided him with the gestural freedom of Abstract Expressionism inside a figurative format.

    Starting with a beat and laying down tracks allows Beck to project a comparable feeling of spontaneity. The title song on his new album evokes the neighborhood he grew up in, which was largely Central American. ”In the park there were these strange characters with crosses carved on their foreheads,” he says. ”Some of them had been in death squads, and now they were immigrants. I tried to write about it for years, but it didn’t want to fit without sounding heavy. And it came out finally on this album in this fun song, ‘Guero.”’ Textured with horn honks, snippets of inane conversation and mariachi band riffs, the song was produced collectively in the studio, but it expresses Beck’s vision. Beck’s sensibility is composed of shards and polarities: notwithstanding his definite left-wing leanings, he has never possessed the single-mindedness to pen a protest song. ”I remember trying to write that kind of song, but there were so many different factors and ambivalences,” he says. ”There are so many good things in the bad things and bad things in the good. The songs are fragmented, because you look at things from different angles to get 360 degrees. Maybe the message is more complicated and skewed.”

    Like his wife and his father, Beck is a Scientologist. ”It’s been useful,” he says. ”My dad’s been doing it since before I was born.” In the Church of Scientology, members seeking what the church calls ”higher levels of spiritual awareness and ability” are ”audited” by a counselor and also by a device called an ”e-meter,” which measures their physiological reactions. When reminded that the Church of Scientology provokes continuing controversy — as much for its tight control over adherents as for its core program — Beck fixes his huge blue eyes in an unwavering gaze and challenges the church’s critics. ”Any kind of intolerance I have a distaste for,” he says, especially when the intolerance is directed at ”something that helps teach kids how to read, addicts to get off drugs and convicts to start a new life.” He continues: ”I’ve always appreciated other cultures and other ideas. Even music I didn’t particularly enjoy. I always thought there was something interesting there, something to learn. I was such a lover of old blues music and scratchy old 78’s, and I would hear new R&B and it sounded so glossy. But then the more I listened to it, the more I appreciated it.” With the conversation drifting far from the topic, he is asked how Scientology helps him. ”It’s a personal thing,” he says. ”I’m a musician. I’m not, like, a personality. I’ve never really pretended to perform that kind of function.”

    Although Beck’s wide acquaintance includes many of the artists, poets and skateboarders he met growing up on the alternative-culture margins of L.A. and New York, his core group is a more affluent, insider crowd, many of them rising young actors. Like Marissa, her twin brother, Giovanni Ribisi, is an actor and a Scientologist. The actor-director Adam Goldberg appeared with Giovanni in Steven Spielberg’s movie ”Saving Private Ryan,” then directed him in a small film, ”I Love Your Work.” Goldberg also acted with Marissa in ”Dazed and Confused.” In turn, Goldberg’s girlfriend, Christina Ricci, starred with Giovanni in ”I Love Your Work.” It’s an overdetermined group.

    One night Goldberg and Ricci stopped by the Dust Brothers’ own recording studio, nicknamed ”the Boat,” in Silver Lake, where Beck was working. Beck had been trying to get a sample of a Japanese-accented voice saying, ”Please enjoy,” to use in his hip-hop-style song ”Hell Yes.” When the producers sent out assistants to tape waitresses in Japanese restaurants, they returned empty-handed. Without preparation, Ricci offered to try it. ”She just stepped up to the mike and killed it,” John King says. ”She was sounding so good and it was so funny to all of us that we just kept feeding her lines.” Her uncredited contribution is very droll.

    The musical traditions that Beck esteems — blues, punk, hip-hop — thrive on spontaneity. Beck is an exceptionally self-aware artist who is searching for ways to short-circuit self-consciousness. To create the cover art for ”Guero,” he selected an artist, Marcel Dzama, who is a member of the Royal Art Lodge, a collective in Winnipeg that produces childlike art. In January, Beck stopped by a group exhibition of their work at a satellite branch of the Museum of Contemporary Art, in the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. He was wearing a black pinstripe jacket, black jeans and a white undershirt, just as at the Spaceland show a couple of nights before. None of the few other visitors noticed him, but the young woman behind the counter moonlights as a writer, and she had interviewed him recently for a small magazine. They engaged in a long conversation, animated on her part, attentive on his, before he went to look at the art.

    The drawings had been tacked up unframed on the walls, like children’s pictures in a schoolroom. Beck approved. ”I always loved art shows at schools,” he said. ”My friends with kids would go, and I would go with them. It’s some of my favorite art. . . . It’s more about creativity than the grand statement of an agenda.” He also likes its rawness.

    One reason Beck enjoys collaborating with the Dust Brothers is their use of high-tech measures to achieve a low-fi sound. He engaged them originally for ”Odelay” after listening with disappointment to the tracks he had already prepared for the ”Mellow Gold” follow-up. ”It sounded really lifeless and dull and uninteresting to me,” he says. ”And I would have these shaggy four-track tapes from Radio Shack that had all this life and personality to them.”

    He goes to great lengths to keep his music from sounding slick. For one song on ”Guero,” he brought in his father to do a string arrangement, and they had the players record it not at ”the Boat” in Silver Lake but at the former A&M recording studio in Hollywood, which is said to have the best sound rooms in town. And then, when they got this sonically perfect recording, he was unhappy. So the Dust Brothers processed it in an Echoplex, an old analog tape reverb device about the size of a lunchbox. As Simpson says: ”It makes it sound like a truck ran over your cassette. We did this high-tech recording and ran it through a transistor radio. It sounded too good, that was the problem. It’s distracting when it sounds all audiophile and smooth.”

    At the recording sessions, after they found a beat and worked out a melody, Beck would start typing lyrics on his Apple laptop. In the old days, he wrote on notepaper; on a computer, he can now edit more rapidly and even — as when he was searching for Spanish slang terms for the song ”Que Onda Guero” — wirelessly surf the Internet. Once he had something workable, he would set up the computer on a music stand and, singing off the screen, lay down a track. Yet even those lines, composed on the spur of the moment, might seem stiff. And other lyrics that he has been carrying with him for years often prove hopeless. ”I could write something ahead of time,” he says, ”and once you get on the mike and hear it back, you think: That’s terrible. Try it again.” But then there are those moments, standing at the mike, improvising lyrics like a rapper, when he can find the words he was seeking without knowing how he came up with them. It’s as if all the countless styles, songs, words and ideas swirling in his head fall into place without his deliberately arranging them. That’s what he is after, to let his preconceptions drop away so he can respond directly to what is happening at that instant in the room. ”That’s usually the time when you’re not trying to say something anymore,” he explains. ”You’re just saying it.”

  14. chris
    Posted March 31, 2005 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    Dude…I lost you at Beck. Mark, are you selling add space to the Church of Scientology?

  15. Ken
    Posted April 1, 2005 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Stinky McGoo is always doing that.

  16. epro
    Posted April 4, 2005 at 2:21 am | Permalink

    anybody interested in l.ron’s hobbies around the time he crafted scientology?
    please to check out jack parsons, man:


    just read it all the way thru
    hell, beck, you can read aleister crowley for

  17. Posted April 21, 2005 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    Makes me sad. I like the guy’s work but I know a cult when I smell one.

    How do I know there won’t be, like, subliminal messages deeply mixed into his songs?

    No, thanks. :)

  18. Bookworm
    Posted June 29, 2005 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Yes, Scientology is a cult. But then, so is the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope is the head of a cult. The only difference is size….

  19. Anon
    Posted August 10, 2005 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    It is indeed sad.

    Whereas, on Midnite Vultures, Beck confronts the whole panoply of subjects possible – sex, politics, pop-culture, etc., and mixes it all up in a swirl, at times absurdist, at times elegantly making statements by poetic construction (a la Dylan) — in Guero, he’s basically just spouting Scientologist “apocolyptism” — this sense that “everything’s wrong” and that everything an illsion. It’s like, he’s this beginner Scientologist, and he’s just kind of dumbed down his worldview.

    Pity how the mighty can fall. His astute powers of observation, or more precisely, amazingly creative analysis, recontextualization, and expression — blunted by this narrow, repetitive, barren simplistic view.

    I knew he’d been ‘wiped out’ by his breakup, when I surveyed the lyric landscape of “Sea Change” — it’s just a shame that he turned to a ‘cure’ worse than the disease, with Scientology.

    Apparently one of his bandmates got him (back?) into it, and apparently that was the cause of another of his bandmates quitting. I forget which was which, but the two were Roger Manning Jr., and Justin Meldal Johnson (forgive any mispellings) ((all this is Googleable, btw, if you’re curious for the original article)).

    Just to reiterate – the whole deal w/ Scientology is this simplistic notion of ‘war’ — this invisible psychic war we’re supposedly always under (well, you know — you attract what you believe, reinforcing your own ‘truth’, so… it’s a kind of self-perpetuating pretzel logic, free from any external frame of reference…). Just go look up any of the sites that have been mentioned here, xenu.net, the clambake one, rotten.com’s entry on Scientology.

    Anyhow, Beck, the wordsmith that he (still) is, may be referring with “Guero” to a slang term for whtey, a latino “honky” term, if you will — but it’s awfully close to the word for “war” (“guerra”). And, the lyric content is all about this — deep, dramatic stuggle against illusion.

    But it’s all internalized, and it’s all gripped in this inexorable sense of its inevibility, and… this sort of isolated “heroic” (I use this in the sense that it’s kind of an illusory, immature ‘heroism’ that’s egotistical and narcissistic) stuggle within.

    He’s lost all connection with a rich and vibrant engagement with the ‘outside’, actual world, we live in. No more references to politics & social issues; no more basically hopeful, pranksterish creative re-framing kind of attitude.

    It’s all this sort of gloomy resigned ‘matter-of-fact’ approach.

    Again, pity.

    One can only hope he’ll pop out of it eventually. There’s the real drama, the real question. Will Beck’s innate sense of creativity, his innate slacker skepticism, be strong enough to counter the fear/despair induced grasping for this “security” “safe” worldview, this web of “easy answers” Scientology offers to its devotees.

    Hope so!

    There’s plenty of celebrities (and other, non-celeb) people, who’ve been involved with Scientology, and who’ve left it. (See http://www.rotten.com/library/religion/scientology/ for more info).

    Let’s hope Beck can add himself to those ranks.

  20. mark
    Posted August 10, 2005 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    I hadn’t heard that Beck had been out of the church durig his first records, only to reenter later. (I’d always heard that he’d bee in sice birth.) If that’s true, that’s interesting. I’ll have to borrow a few records and see if, like you, I can actually hear the point exact point when he re-embraces L. Ron.

  21. Posted August 14, 2005 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    So Beck’s into some weird shit. Why are we surprised? He’s a child of the Hollywood Hills, and has basked in celebrity’s glare since before he say “goo.”

    You know, it sucks that he’s good buddies with Dharma and everything, but I guess it’s hard to get everything you want out of a loser/ironist turned multimillionaire/ironist these days.

    Hmm. and suddenly I’m getting images of the Beatles in India eagerly drinking in the words of the Maharishi.

    Maybe he’ll get over it. Maybe not. I’ll still buy his records.

  22. Posted September 29, 2005 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    can it get any worse? i think he should get his GED and go to college. he could major in art history or something easy like that.

    i think his breakup with leigh limon destroyed a big part of him and he found that scientology helps fill that void. i think the CoS encouraged his current wife to hook up with him and get knocked up before planning it. i’ll bet anyone cash money that beck’s new son was an “oops.” this whole thing reminds me of lisa marie presley and michael jackson…except michael jackson’s pedo-homo tendencies won out.

  23. Posted December 3, 2008 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

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  24. emthe mages
    Posted September 27, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    You know that if Whitman were alive today, he’d be a Scientologist.

  25. Vinita Buczko
    Posted December 1, 2010 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    I’d like to sing the body thetan, but, as a beginner on the guitar, my nipples keep getting caught in the strings. Are there nipple guards available for every model? Any advice would be appreciated.

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