Beck Offers Fans the Opportunity to Make His New Album Their Own

Beck Offers Fans the Opportunity to Make His New Album Their Own

Beck’s latest album comes in an almost-forgotten form—twenty songs existing only as individual pieces of sheet music, never before released or recorded. Complete with full-color, heyday-of-home-play-inspired art for each song and a lavishly produced hardcover carrying case, Song Reader is an experiment in what an album can be at the end of 2012—an alternative that enlists the listener in the tone of every track, and that’s as visually absorbing as a dozen gatefold LPs put together.

For more information click here to visit the Song Reader website.

Beck sat down Beck for an in-depth Q&A on the project: 

McSWEENEY’S: So here we are, late in 2012, and you’ve just put a heck of a lot of effort into crafting a set of songs that you’re only going to release as sheet music. Where’d that idea come from, originally? And what is it about a project like this that seemed exciting to take on?

BECK: The idea has been around since I started releasing music. After one of my first records came out, in the ’90s, a publisher sent me a sheet music version of the album—someone had transcribed it for piano and voice. The album itself was full of noises, beats, bent sounds, feedback—it had a lot of sonic ideas that were meant to be heard, as a recording. Seeing those songs reduced down to piano parts made me feel like they’d become abstractions. At the time, I mentioned to the people I worked with that it might be better to write a group of songs specifically for a songbook, rather than trying to force the songs from my record into written arrangements. But years of touring and making albums didn’t leave time to do the project properly. We finally began the process back in 2004.

This is an excerpt. Click here to read the full interview on