Buttkickin’ Halloween Songs: “Scarecrow” — Beck (2005)

I’m walking through the other side
With the devil trying to take my mind
And my soul’s just a silhouette
From the ashes of a cigarette
Illusions never fake their lies
Trick cards fool the eye
Carry zeros over ’til they add up
Bury tears in the chapters you shut…

Look, just because it’s Halloween doesn’t mean we can’t get all indie and kooky and funky and everything.

And I’m not even going to pretend I know what Beck’s talking about half the time, and I’m almost entirely sure his 2005 track Scarecrow has little or nothing to do with actual Scarecrows coming off their posts and shuffling down the road, completely enraptured with their own funky ennui and existential consternation and woe.

I get enough of that in my real life, thank you very much.

I’m sure Scarecrow, like most Beck tunes, can be analyzed a dozen different ways, but I love it for our playlist because it has a funky/bluesy vibe all its own, yet somehow still feels delightfully otherworldly and spooky. It opens with the creepy guitar and keyboard lines, evoking a murky horizon of dark uncertainty. There are hints of laughing creatures by the side of the road, pointing and jeering. Birds overhead caw in self-righteous judgment as the Scarecrow continues his road trip of self-recrimination. Miles and miles and junkyard piles, indeed.

Plus the song is just so damn good. This is Beck and the Dust Brothers are their collaborative best.

So is Scarecrow a Halloween song? I’d argue that there isn’t a single journey more terrifying than that of self-introspection. Ponder that while you’re stranded with the leftover candy corn. Yes. Candy corn. I went there…

Sometimes the jail can’t chain the cell
And the rain’s too plain to tell
All alone but living well
The scarecrow’s only scaring himself…

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