The Greatest American Music is a companion to our Greatest American Band Debate.
SeedSing is filled with music lovers. We can not agree on who is the best band from the States. The Greatest American Band Debate will be a regular feature where we discuss and compare bands who started in the good old USA. If you have any suggestions of bands we should debate Contact us firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Friday I wrote about how the greatness that is "Baby Driver". That movie is a classic. I also wrote in my spoiler free review about the excellent music in the movie. I bought the soundtrack, naturally, and I have been listening to it pretty much everyday since it was purchased. This is not a review of the album. The album is great, and I highly recommend it, especially for 50's and 60's soul and R&B music fans, but one song on it has rekindled my love for a musician I'm a big fan of.
The song "Debra", from Beck's best album, "Midnite Vultures", is on the soundtrack. "Midnite Vultures" is a tremendous record, and "Debra" is the highlight of the whole record. It is Beck's masterpiece, in my opinion. That is what I want to talk about today, the greatness that is the song "Debra". This is also my way of getting Beck into the Greatest American Band debate, but I just want to talk about this one song. It is enough to put him in the debate. Beck has so much other great music, but "Debra" is a step above everything else he has done, and will do.
In "Baby Driver", Baby and his girlfriend, Debora, talk about all the songs that have their names in them. Obviously Baby has a ton of songs. Debora, not so much. They mention 2 in the movie. One is T Rex's "Debora", and the other is Beck's "Debra". Lily James sings the first part of the first verse, and then immediately after she does that, I was brought back into how much I love this song. Then after listening to it on repeat for awhile, both on the soundtrack and "Midnite Vultures", I fell even further back in love with the song.
Everything about this song is perfection. First off, I heard, I think RD told me in fact, that Beck has said that this song is his own personal tribute to Prince, and it sounds like classic Prince. The song is very funky and Beck sings his heart out, hitting notes I didn't think he could ever get to. He sings some of the highest notes I've ever heard.
I started to dig deeper into the song because Debora explains to Baby that the song isn't even really about a girl named Debra, it is about her sister Jenny. I had forgotten about that. I just assumed the song was about a girl named Debra because that is the name of the song. But no, it is about a girl named Jenny, and her sister Debra. The first lyrics, the ones that Debora sings, go like this, "I met you at JC Penny/I think your name tag said Jenny". Bam! Right off the bat Beck establishes that the song is not about Debra, but it is about Jenny.
Beck goes on to say, "I cold step to you with a fresh pack of gum/And somehow I knew, you were looking for some oh no!/Like a fruit, that's ripe for the picking/ I wouldn't do you like that Zankou Chicken". That is some Barry White esque game that Beck is spitting to Jenny.
It also has classic Beck nonsense like him calling out a chicken restaurant in California. For years my brothers and I would debate what he was saying. We thought he was saying things like "cold chicken", "microwave chicken", anything but "Zankou Chicken".
He then finishes up the first verse, "Cause only you got the thing that I just got to get with? I just got to get with you and you know what we're gonna do". Again, funky as hell. This lyrics are classic throwback R&B lyrics and Beck sings them like a boss.
The chorus is tremendous. The lyrics are, "I wanna get with you/ And your sister/ I think her name is Debra". That is the first mention of Debra in the song. That chorus though, it is top notch and the guitar and drums and especially the bass, are second to none. It is classic, and extremely well played funk/R&B music coming from the weirdest dude in music. He crushes the chorus and the guitar work. I love it.
The song only gets better from there.
In the second verse, Beck explains, "I'll pick you up late at night after work/ I said, lady, step inside my Hyundai/ I'm gonna take you up to Glendale, I'm gonna take you for a real good meal/ Cause when our eyes did meet/ Girl you know I was packing heat/ Ain't no use in wasting no time getting to know each other, you never do". He then rehashes the "Cause only you got the thing" verse.
Lets unpack most of the second verse real quick. Again, super duper funky. It has all the elements of funk music. He is letting Jenny know all his plans, and what he wants to do with her. He is a gentleman obviously, by telling her he is going to take her up to Glendale for a "real good meal". He also isn't boasting when telling her to "Step inside his Hyundai". I have a Hyundai, so I know that all Hyundai's aren't fancy. He is confident, but not cocky. Then telling Jenny that they don't need to waste time getting to know each other is some of the coolest shit ever written. Beck is the man. He lets Jenny know what he wants, and if she is down, he will be having a great night. The second verse is my favorite. It is so cool and shows some of the best bravado that I have ever heard. This is where the song really hooks you.
He then goes on to the chorus again. Only the second mention of Debra in the second verse as well. It just gets funkier from there.
He goes on to close the song with, "ooh lovely lady/ girl you drive me crazy". He then repeats that a few times and finishes it off with, "I got a little bit of sympathy for you girl/ Yeah, cause I'm a grown ass man". He could not sound any cooler than he does at the end of this song. He is truly "the man". He throws down so epically on "Debra". The song closes out with some of the grooviest, funkiest guitar and bass in any funk song ever.
"Debra" is a classic. "Midnite Vultures" is a classic as well. It is songs like these that make me realize why I love not only music, but Beck specifically. He makes so much different and unique stuff, and for the most part, it is successful. Go out and listen to "Debra" right away. This song is so great, and I guarantee that you will gain a whole new level of respect for how great of a singer and song writer Beck truly is. He is like no one else that makes music nowadays, and "Debra" is what opened my mind to his genius.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing and the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast. He owns a Hyundai because Beck planted subliminal message's in Ty's head that said the Sonata is a car for the smoothest of dudes. Come step inside to see for yourself.
SeedSing is funded by a group of awesome people. Join them by donating to SeedSing.