Beck’s Song Reader: No Sound, All Interpretation

Song Reader Do We We Do

The sheet music for Beck’s “Do We? We Do.” as it appears in the Song Reader package. Courtesy of the artist

Beck’s new unrecorded album Song Reader makes me wish I were a musician even more than I usually do. The album is all sheet music and no recordings. In his interview with NPR All Things Considered, he says:

“When you write a song and make a recording and put out a record, it’s kind of [like] sending a message in a bottle. You don’t really get a lot of feedback. This is a way of sending that song out, and you just get literally thousands of bottles sent back to you.”

I hope a friend will take on Song Reader so I can vicariously bask in the interpretative experience of individuals doing the same thing differently. I can’t give Beck a message in a bottle, but I plan on opening everyone else’s at songreader.net.

I can connect a song to an experience, event or feeling. But I can’t make it my own, I can’t change it and I can’t make someone else hear it the way I hear it. I love covers because of the interpretation and re-invention that goes into it. My favorite covers are the ones where the original fades away entirely. Beck has no intention of recording the songs, which makes the whole Song Reader concept even more engaging to me because the versions people record will have no ghost.

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