5 Songs You Didn’t Know Beck Wrote for Other Artists

It’s been a long way from Mellow Gold. Beck‘s 1994 third album was the one that broke him through with the hit single “Loser.” Now three decades later, the singer, songwriter, and producer has crafted a patchwork of music crisscrossing genres, artistic scope, and sounds within his extensive songbook.

Videos by American Songwriter

Whatever the experiment in folk, pop, hip-hop, or Americana, Beck’s music scans the offbeat, the humorous, and the more thoughtful ends, which have all spilled into his work outside of his core solo catalog.

[RELATED: Beck Has Love on the Brain in New Song “Thinking About You”]

In another musical realm, Beck has contributed songs to films, including the soundtrack for Twilight Saga: Eclipse and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World in 2010, and a Sia duet, “Moonquake Lake” for the 2014 film Annie, along with music for the television series True Blood, and video games. In 2012, Beck also wrote the song “Attracted to Us” for the Saturday Night Live trio The Lonely Island and released Song Reader, a collection of 20 songs he wrote, interpreted by other artists, including Jason Isbell, Norah Jones, Jarvis Cocker, and Sparks, among others.

Releasing 14 albums, from Golden Feelings in 1993 through Hyperspace in 2019, Beck has collaborated with dozens of artists, including Gorillaz, Lady Gaga, Bat For Lashes, Thurston Moore, Cage the Elephant, and The Chemical Brothers, among many others—writing, producing, or featured on their albums.

He also helped reimagine Paul McCartney‘s “Find My Way,” off McCartney III Imagined, the remix album following his 2021 album, McCartney III.

There’s always an element of surprise with Beck, and these five songs are evidence of it. Here are just five songs Beck wrote for other artists over the years.

1. “Heaven Can Wait,” Charlotte Gainsbourg (2010)
Written and produced by Beck

When French singer and actress Charlotte Gainsbourg was working on her third album, IRM (French for MRI), Beck wrote and produced the entire thing. With the exception of “Le Chat Du Café Des Artistes,” originally penned by Canadian singer and songwriter Jean-Pierre Ferland, everything was penned by Beck on electro-pop-fused IRM, including the lead single “Heaven Can Wait.” The song is a light and airy stance for finding joy in life, no matter what, until that time comes.

“Ideally music is more instinctive than acting,” said Gainsbourg. “On this album, I tried to let my instincts guide me and tried not to be so guarded and tried to let accidents happen.”

Heaven can wait
And hell’s too far to go
Somewhere between what you need
And what you know
And they are trying to drive
The escalator into the ground

2. “The Wolf Is On The Hill,” Jeff Tweedy (2012)
Written by Beck

Running just over two minutes and 20 seconds, “The Wolf Is On The Hill” was originally performed by Jeff Tweedy on Beck’s Song Reader. Perfectly paired with Tweedy, the mellow and charming alt-country ditty sounds like something the Wilco frontman may have written himself at one point.

The wolf is on the hill
The bird is in the briar
The thorn is on the rose
And your time is on the wire

Those days of grave concern
Have turned themselves to silence
While the winter fires burn
What was left of kindness

3. “Please Leave a Light on When You Go,” fun. (2012)
Written by Beck

Also off Song Reader, the pop group fun., made up of Taylor Swift‘s longtime collaborator and producer and Bleachers frontman, Jack Antonoff, along with Andrew Dost (Anathallo), and Format singer Nate Ruess, took on Beck’s “Please Leave a Light on When You Go.” The piano-led ballad is a song about perseverance in the darkest of times.

How can you fix something
That you can’t touch without hurting?
The lesson you’ve learned is leaving you dumb
Please leave a light on when it’s done

Standing high above the flood line
Watching all your belongings go by

4. “What This World is Coming To,” Nate Ruess, featuring Beck (2015)
Written by Beck, Nate Ruess, Jeff Bhasker, Emile Haynie

In between fronting Format and the fun., the latter a pop trio with Jack Antonoff, Nate Ruess released his debut solo album, Grand Romantic. The album peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard 200.

Someone sucked the life out of the room
When that someone said goodbye much too soon
I’d hate for you to love me ’cause you saw me out
With someone who you read about in the news

But I guess that’s what this world is coming to

5. “Dancin’ In Circles,” Lady Gaga (2016)
Written by Beck, Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Michael Tucker

Lady Gaga‘s third album, Joanne, features a collection of contributors, from Florence Welch, Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme, who co-wrote and produced the opening track “Diamond Hearts” and “John Wayne,” along with Beck, who co-penned “Dancin’ In Circles.”

Tap down those boots while I beat around
Let’s funk downtown
Tap down those boots while I beat around
Funk me downtown

I lay around, touch myself to pass the time
I fell down, I wish you were mine
I close my eyes
Take a breath and I picture us in a place
I can’t recognize

Photo: Peter Hapak / Nasty Little Man PR

Leave a Reply

Jelly Roll Maps Out Extensive North American Tour