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In a recent piece for The New Yorker, the inimitable Beck Hansen wants you to know his latest crop of songs won’t be performed by himself, his band or even a professional musician—but you.
That’s right, with the help of McSweeny Publishing, Beck has released his latest work not as a CD, MP3 or vinyl, but an old-fashioned fully-notated song book, aptly titled “Song Reader.” The book is scheduled for release on December 7, and preorders are being accepted now. Select renditions of Beck’s songs will be featured on songreader.net.
Always intrigued by the classic song books of yore—and how notes on a page can be interpreted and colored in manifold ways by whoever is reading them—Beck wrote of his intent behind the project.
We’ve attempted to make a book that’s able to stand alone as an object, aside from the music. Traditional album releases can have a self-contained value in their physicality; the photos and art and titles can draw you in before you ever hear the songs. This is a book that takes inspiration from that feeling. The art, the ads, and the other text hopefully convey something all by themselves.
Elsewhere in the article, the “Loser” star assured of his work’s adaptability.
As for these songs, they’re here to be brought to life—or at least to remind us that, not so long ago, a song was only a piece of paper until it was played by someone. Anyone. Even you.
Empowering! In light of the musician’s past experimentation, count “Song Book” as another notch on his belt. For more, check out mxdwn’s own interview with Beck’s go-to bassist, Justin Meldal-Johnsen, and his take on the project.