the recording artist and performer known simply as Beck, has been nominated
this year for Grammy awards in the Best Album and Alternative Album categories.
Since the 1993 fluke mainstream success of his underground slacker anthem
“Loser,” he has maintained his creative and commercial edge with successful,
innovative albums like Odelay (1996) and his latest, the
newly nominated Midnite Vultures.
Sun is in Cancer, the sign traditionally associated with the Moon. The
Moon’s astrological link to tradition and family extends from its relation
to the collective, the people around us. Beck’s extensive knowledge of
various musical traditions and his deep-rooted attachment to his own family’s
artistic legacy characterize Cancer traits in his work.
the moon is a counterfeit, better find the one that fits
Better find the one that lights the way for you. “Nobody’s Fault But
emphasize the fulfillment of basic needs, what an individual receives
from the world outside. Just as the Moon actually absorbs and reflects
the light of the Sun, in astrology it represents the part of us that absorbs
and reflects the light of other people.
As a Cancer,
Beck absorbed the diverse influences he was exposed to in his formative
years. A third generation artist, creative elements in his family helped
nurture his own talents. His mother Bibbe Hansen is a former model and
actress. His father David Campbell is an accomplished bluegrass musician
and string arranger who has contributed to his albums.
Beck’s grandfather Al Hansen was a well-known artist of the Fluxus movement,
a style based in found art and collage, work which Beck and his brother
Channing have continued to follow and produce. In 1999, Beck celebrated
his lineage (Sun in Cancer) with an exhibit and book of his grandfather’s
and his own work, Beck and Al Hansen: Playing With Matches.
Beck said about his grandfather, "He validated any sort of leaning
towards experimenting with your environment, experimenting with sound,
experimenting with an idea."
elder Hansen clearly had a crucial influence on his grandson, since this
freestyle approach to art also describes Beck’s process of making music. His songs cut and paste samples of folk, hip-hop, Delta blues, bluegrass,
hot-buttered soul, Latino sounds and pure punk rock, blending curious
combinations of sounds and styles.
to absorb this huge volume of material reflects the Moon’s astrological
role as ruler of his Cancer Sun. It has given him an amazing command of
these various musical styles, an undiscriminating sympathy for every mood
music has to offer.
boyish voice is deceptively flexible, allowing him to sound genuine in
whatever style he explores. Notoriously prolific, he has produced so much
material that he carefully selects songs for records according to their
mood, something to which Cancer is particularly sensitive.
also in Cancer, shares a harmonious relationship with his Virgo Moon,
since they are each in signs ruled by, or associated with, the other.
This is called a mutual reception, and provides an especially favorable
expression for both planets.
a full grown man, but I'm not afraid to cry.
connection of the Moon to Mercury implies a cooperative nature between
them. Beck’s creative needs, his lunar flow, find an easy partner with
quick-thinking Mercury, the planet through which artists find their voice.
is the “palette” of an artist, its strength and personality determines
how they apply their “paint” to their work. The clever, sophisticated
character of Mercury in relation to Virgo describes not only Beck’s clever
lyrical wit, but also his broad and eclectic tastes and the systematic
way he delivers the variety of musical styles in his reach.
reception also relates to his self-contained integrity. He has only ever
made music for himself, commercially or otherwise. Fortunately, as his
horoscope indicates, Beck was simply at the right place at the right time
when his career took off with his early signature song, “Loser.”
"Loser's" success placed a misleading tag on Beck as a poster boy for
the bored and spoiled slacker generation. Though supposedly ironic,
it was nevertheless a fairly sincere proclamation on his behalf at the
time. Prior to its release, his struggle to focus on making music had
him living impoverished in a rat-infested shed. As Beck himself describes
this time, “I was working in a video store doing things like alphabetizing
the pornography section for minimum wage.”
Uranus (sudden change, music technology, iconoclasm, mania) and
Neptune (recorded music, public tastes) traveled opposite his Sun and Mercury
in Cancer in 1993, during a time of drastic change in the low-key singer’s
life. The rare pairing of these two outer planets, called a conjunction,
coincided with “Loser’s” success and Beck’s whirlwind rags-to-riches upheaval
during the course of that year.
him much sought after by record companies, but it took a personal phone
call from music mogul David Geffen himself, with assurances of artistic
liberty, to hook Beck to a record contract, one that allowed him to make
other records on the side for smaller outside labels.
It took some
time for the reclusive Cancer to adjust to his newfound celebrity, though
his outrageousness has culminated with his current over-the-top voyage
into funky, space-rock, Midnite Vultures.
Longer a Loser
in the Kowloon night
freon by the candlelight.
Now up for
the highest popular acclaim with his two Grammy nominations, his work
has grown to thrive in mass appeal. Released in November 1999, Midnite
Vultures’ upbeat horn-driven effort echoes the purple sounds of
The Artist Once Again Known as Prince, marking another twist in musical
direction for this Cancer chameleon.
“Milk and Honey” and “Debra” find Beck conquering funky territory once
thought to be the stronghold of Lenny Kravitz alone, albeit with Beck’s
added familiar, ironic lyrical wit we’ve come to expect. One review remarked
the album was, “a snapshot of a musician who looked at the potential Y2K
doomsday and only wanted to party like it was 1999.”
Of his latest
CD, Beck said, “I enjoy the freedom of doing something like Midnite
Vultures, where you can branch off into some ridiculousness. Rock
and roll is obnoxious, so you need to be able to release that.”
The lunar eclipse last month (January 9) fell right on Beck's natal
Mercury, marking a possible win for him on the big night. More important,
it indicates that his music is as vital as ever and he is poised to keep
going strong, with a mutual reception to inspire his conceptions.