Devils Haircut

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For other meanings, see Devil's Haircut.
"Devils Haircut"
A black winged demon sitting on a pot on beach
Single by Beck
from the album Odelay
Released 1996
Format CD
Genre Alternative rock, alternative hip hop
Length 3:14
Writer(s) Beck Hansen, John King, Michael Simpson
Beck singles chronology
"Where It's At"
(1996)
"Devils Haircut"
(1996)
"The New Pollution"
(1997)

"Devils Haircut" is a single by Beck, taken from the album Odelay.

Music video[edit]

The music video for the song is directed by Mark Romanek. It features Beck walking through various New York City locations, wearing cowboy attire and carrying a boombox. At some points, the action freezes and the camera zooms in on Beck in tableau. Later the camera zooms in on spies that have been following Beck the whole time.

The video has references to the films Midnight Cowboy and The 400 Blows.

At the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards, Beck won a total of five awards. Three were for "The New Pollution" and "Devils Haircut" won two: Best Editing and Best Male Video.[1]

Lyrical and musical content[edit]

As is common with his Odelay-era songs, "Devils Haircut" is driven by a number of samples: the drums in the choruses and drum breaks come from Pretty Purdie's "Soul Drums"; the drumbeat during the verses comes from Them's cover of James Brown's "Out of Sight"; and the guitar riff was taken from another Them cover, of "I Can Only Give You Everything", replayed by Beck rather than sampled.[2]

On top of this mix of instrumental borrowings, Beck sings about "stealing kisses from the leprous faces", "discount orgies", and "garbage man trees". The song's lyrics are full of poetry and mental shortcuts. The lyrics here emulate minimalistic phrases as may be used when not communicating outside of the inner mind. As such, the words are representative of a metaphorical concept of something observed in the world.[citation needed]

The song is dotted with references to the wandering disorientation that comes with touring, such as "coming to town with the briefcase blues".

Beck himself has talked about the meaning of "Devils Haircut" on a few occasions. In one interview, he claimed that it was "a really simplistic metaphor for a devils haircut".

Track listings[edit]

CD #1
  1. "Devils Haircut" [LP Version]
  2. "Devils Haircut" [Remix by Noel Gallagher]
  3. "Groovy Sunday" [Remix by Mike Simpson]
  4. "Trouble All My Days"
CD #2
  1. "Devils Haircut" [LP Version]
  2. "Dark and Lovely" [Remix by Dust Brothers]
  3. "American Wasteland" [Remix by Mickey P.]
  4. ".000.000"
12"
  1. A1 "Devils Haircut" (LP Version) (3:13)
  2. A2 "Devils Haircut" (Dark And Lovely) (3:38)
  3. A3 "Devils Haircut" (American Wasteland) (2:43)
  4. B1 "Where It's At" (Lloyd Price Express) (4:57)
  5. B2 "Clock"(2:43)

7"

  1. "Devils Haircut"
  2. "Lloyd Price Express"

Personnel[edit]

  • Vocals, guitar, bass, harmonica, organ: Beck Hansen
  • Turntables: The Dust Brothers
  • Written by: Beck/The Dust Brothers
  • Programmed by: Beck/The Dust Brothers

B-sides and remixes[edit]

"Devils Haircut" was released with a number of B-sides, which included many remixes:

CD #1 includes two remixes. One by Noel Gallagher of Oasis, and the other by Mike Simpson of The Dust Brothers. The former adds a roaring guitar, emphasized over all other instruments on the track while the latter is a more jazzy take on the song, packed with added percussion and jazz horns.

CD #2 includes "Dark and Lovely", another sample-laden Dust Brothers remix, and "American Wasteland", by Mickey P, which transforms the song into a fast, hardcore punk style song.

Both CDs had one original B-side in addition to the remixes. CD #1 had "Trouble All My Days", an early song from 1993 which is characterized by deep, distorted vocals and Beck's thrashing his loosely-tuned strings. "Trouble All My Days" had been featured on "Pay No Mind (Snoozer)", Golden Feelings and two other releases prior to its inclusion on "Devils Haircut" CD #1.

CD #2 features "000.000," a previously unreleased song with a strange, minimalistic instrumental background and difficult to discern lyrics. "000.000" was also released on "The New Pollution".

Another remix, "Richard's Hairpiece", was done courtesy of Aphex Twin, in which the riff is removed, and Beck's vocals are sped up to the extent that his voice is extremely high-pitched. This remix was not included on either CD version of "Devils Haircut", because of Aphex Twin's delay in making it, but it was included on the subsequent CD for "The New Pollution".

Charts[edit]

Chart (1996) Peak
position
Canadian RPM Alternative 30 19
UK Singles Chart 22
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 94
U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 23

Popular culture[edit]

  • Beck guest-starred on the episode of sci-fi American cartoon sitcom Futurama entitled "Bendin' in the Wind" in 2001. He says to Bender, "When I'm upset I write a song about it. Like when I wrote 'Devils Haircut', I was feeling really...really...what's that song about?" as an allusion to the song's oblique lyrics.
  • Bob Dylan made reference to the song and its lyrical complexity on his weekly XM Satellite Radio show: "We're talkin' about the Devil here on Theme Time Radio Hour. And the Devil always looks sharp. One of the reasons he looks sharp is that he had a good haircut. Here's Beck to tell you all about it. This is from his hit album Odelay, produced by the Dust Brothers. Beck says 'This song is a really simplistic metaphor for the evil of vanity.' I just thought you could dance to it."
  • Scottish band Travis mention "Devils Haircut" (alongside with Oasis' Wonderwall, and the Manic Street Preachers' A Design for Life) on "Slide Show", a song from their 1999 "The Man Who" album. "'Cause there is no design for life, There's no devil's haircut in my mind, There is not a wonderwall to climb to climb or step around"
  • "Devils Haircut" plays at the beginning of the first episode of the CW television series Reaper.

References[edit]

External links[edit]