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Beck Hansen, 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.

Lunar Influence

Astrology Horoscope: BeckBeck’s 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.

When 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 My Own”

Lunar concerns 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.

Playing With Matches

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.

Most strikingly, 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."

The 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.

Beck’s capacity 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.

His deep, 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.

Mutual Reception

Beck’s Mercury, 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.

I'm a full grown man, but I'm not afraid to cry.
“Sexx Laws”

This 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.

Mercury 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.

Beck’s mutual 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

"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.”

The planets 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.

"Loser" made 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.

No Longer a Loser

Carnivores in the Kowloon night
Breathing freon by the candlelight.
“Sexx Laws”

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.

Songs like “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.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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For more information about Nick Dagan Best, click here.

Other StarIQ articles by Nick Dagan Best:

  • Seth Green Makes It Look Easy   5/14/2001
  • Ray Liotta: An Open Mind For Something Wild   4/24/2001
  • Ridley Scott Unleashes Hell   3/19/2001
  • Joaquin Phoenix: Good People Doing Bad Things   3/16/2001
  • Fiona Apple: When Your Mind Is Your Might   2/16/2001
  • Julianne Moore Breaks the Silence   2/9/2001
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman: Fearless Actor   1/25/2001
  • Christina Ricci: Is Madness Too Glamorous?   12/28/2000
  • Frida Kahlo and Salma Hayek: Peas in a Pod or Saturn in Pisces?   11/30/2000

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