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Beck And Stephin Merritt Talk About 'Song Reader'

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Beck Hansen's latest project 'Song Reader' comes in the form of sheet music. Beck Hansen's latest project 'Song Reader' comes in the form of sheet music. (Gina Ribisi / courtesy of the artist)

Beck Hansen just put out his latest release last week, except it's not a new album. It's not even a recording. Instead, this new project comes in the form of an old-fashioned, "gather the family around the piano"-style songbook filled with sheet music of his new songs. Published by McSweeney's, the project is titled Beck Hansen’s Song Reader, and his fans are already putting their own stamp on the songs and posting video and audio at Beck's Website

First, Beck joins us by phone to talk about the Song Reader project. Then, musician Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields gives us his version of one of Beck's new songs: "Old Shanghai."

Stephin Merritt - Old Shanghai

And, New York singer-songwriter Amy Regan -- who is organizing a local Song Reader event on Dec. 18 at CSC Theater at which all 20 songs from the book will be performed -- chats about learning the songs, asks Beck for tips, and then plays live in the studio.


Studio 360's Kurt Andersen and staff and hosts of WNYC and WQXR also performed a song from Beck's Song Reader, "Saint Dude." 


Beck Hansen, Stephin Merritt and Amy Regan

Comments [6]

skeltiscope from Earth

???? Is this the first time Beck has ever used his real voice???? It's entirely different from every other interview I have ever heard him speak. I didn't even recognize his voice at all.

Anyone remember the Beck tribute done years ago? A bunch of fans did his songs. I was the guy named sanQ doing Where It's At

Dec. 14 2012 12:36 AM
Tina from NYC

Great interpretation of Beck's song by Amy Regan and Co. Her voice is beautiful! Can't wait to hear more on the 18th at the CSC Theatre.

Dec. 13 2012 10:58 PM
Jean David Michel from Kingston, NY

I would love to see Beck do a barn style concert with all his friends gathered around a piano, Bing Crosby Christmas Special style.
Would be so much fun seeing them all playing and interpretting the songs off the cuff.
Someone call, PJ Harvey, Frank Black and Jeff Mangum and tell them kids to suit up.

Dec. 13 2012 09:11 PM
SurreptitiousQueefs from The Future

With Song Reader, you have packaged very serious songs in a deliberately humorous framework. Similarly, your album Midnite Vultures featured legitimate hip-hop and r&b tunes offset by satirical if not outright silly lyrics. Do you ever feel like you use humor to avoid a full commitment to your material?

Dec. 13 2012 08:57 PM
Alex from New York, NY

Early in your career, your live performance was often theatrical and tended toward the spectacular or sensational. In recent years, however, your performances have become relatively stripped-down and minimalistic. Is this the product of a deliberate artistic choice or something else, like a herniated disc, chronic fatigue syndrome, the ravages of age...?

Dec. 13 2012 08:47 PM
Matt from Montreal

The other night at the hurricane Sandy benefit you played "MTV makes me wanna smoke crack". You haven't played that song in like 15 years. What inspired that? Also, you should play rarities like that more often!

Here is a clip of that performance:

Dec. 13 2012 08:14 PM

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