In 2012, Beck released his expansive book of sheet music, Song Reader. The collection features 20 songs and 100 pages of art, but was released as an album rather than as a songbook; in fact, Rolling Stone even named it the 50th best album of 2013.
Beck began working on the project in 2004 and played only three Song Reader concerts upon the music book’s release, collaborating with various artists to realize his compositions. The LA-born artist has promoted universal access of the music throughout the project, and he’s welcomed YouTube and SoundCloud submissions of his pieces to its official website. The indie rocker hinted that a compilation of fan recordings may be in the works at some point.
If you want a compilation of professional recordings, though, your wait is almost over. Beck announced today that a Song Reader album will be released on July 29, but the realization of his compositions has been largely delegated to other prolific artists. Beck's appearance on only one track further exhibits his hands-off approach to the post-compositional process.
"Like a kid getting a special package in the mail and opening it up with anticipation, these interpretations of songs from the Song Reader book have surpassed what I could have imagined when putting the book together," Beck said in a statement. "The book addressed the idea of a song in its most elemental form, letting others give it a voice. It amazes me to hear how these musicians have made the songs their own and in the process revealed that the interpretation is the living breathing soul of the piece. These interpretations have made the book something new, something better."
The album’s official title is Warby Parker Presents Beck Song Reader. It ties into Beck’s limited-edition "black cherry" Carmichael eyeglass frames by Warby Parker, which is collaborating with Capitol Records to release the LP. The company is also publishing a new edition of the Song Reader songbook. Check out the tracklist for the forthcoming album below:
01 Moses Sumney: "Title of this Song"
02 Fun.: "Please Leave A Light On When You Go"
03 Tweedy: "The Wolf is on the Hill"
04 Norah Jones: "Just Noise"
05 Lord Huron: "Last Night You Were A Dream"
06 Bob Forrest: "Saint Dude"
07 Jack White: "I’m Down"
08 Beck: "Heaven’s Ladder"
09 Juanes: "Don’t Act Like Your Heart Isn’t Hard"
10 Laura Marling: "Sorry"
11 Jarvis Cocker: "Eyes That Say 'I Love You'"
12 David Johansen: "Rough On Rats"
13 Jason Isbell: "Now That Your Dollar Bills Have Sprouted Wings"
14 The Last Polka: "Marc Ribot"
15 Eleanor Friedberger: "Old Shanghai"
16 Sparks: "Why Did You Make Me Care?"
17 Swamp Dogg: "America, Here’s My Boy"
18 Jack Black: "We All Wear Cloaks"
19 Loudon Wainwright III: "Do We? We Do"
20 Gabriel Kahane with Ymusic: "Mutilation Rag"