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Song Reader Hardcover – December 11, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"[A] visually stunning and captivating album… For anyone with an ear (or an eye) for music, this album is the perfect opportunity to abandon your seats, join the stage and become a participant rather than just a spectator."—Zink Magazine

"Visually sumptuous … A bold artistic challenge and a madcap creative gauntlet in a pop-culture landscape that favors instant gratification."—American Way

About the Author

Since 1993, Beck has released eleven albums; two of them, Odelay and Sea Change, were included on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. As a producer and collaborator, he’s worked with dozens of other artists, including Charlotte Gainsbourg and Thurston Moore. He lives in Los Angeles.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 108 pages
  • Publisher: McSweeney's (December 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781938073380
  • ISBN-13: 978-1938073380
  • ASIN: 193807338X
  • Product Dimensions: 12.4 x 9.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Minnesota Musician on December 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm a musician so its no surprise that I like to listen to music. However, while I like writing my own music, its rare that I am motivated to cover someone else's tunes. That's just how I am. But when I heard about Song Reader, my attitude changed. I just received my copy of Song Reader and I'm excited about it. Here's a collection of songs by a popular artist that noone has heard before. With nothing to compare it to, it's easy to understand why there have been so many interpretations submitted already, from musicians of all skill levels and ages.

The contents of this 'album' are on high quality paper with color artwork. I thought this was going to be more like a song book, but its a collection of individual sheet music, and its well done. 20 songs, plus a variety of 'bonus' material filling out the sheets, will keep you busy. I haven't read sheet music in a long time. While I may not be able to play some of the songs, at a minimum I can read the chords. If you get stuck, its just a matter of time before readers release a SoundCloud or YouTube track to kickstart your musical process.

I gave this four stars because I've had tons of fun learning and recording these songs. While I can't say I like all the songs, I feel like I got my money's worth, both in the physical package and overall entertainment value.

I'm not sure what non-musicians would 'do' with Song Reader, perhaps other reviewers will comment on what led them to purchase it. I'm not a collector of 'fan' material so I don't know if this would be interesting to a long-time Beck fan or not. It will be interesting to see how long the Song Reader buzz lasts.

You can listen to or submit your Youtube or SoundCloud recordings of songs at the official site:
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By JON MANNERS on February 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Length: 2:44 Mins
Here's my take on Beck's "Old Shanghai." I had a LOT of fun doing this, and you can too - what a cool, out-of-the-box idea he had to release his songs as sheet music! [...]
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Chris Szeliga on January 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
None of us will ever be as cool as Beck, ever. Who else could have concieved of something like this? Now get your dead ass on the road and tour!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brent Holcomb on January 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Beck has given us the music (and the witty annotations)... He leaves our hands for the interpreting. Brilliant move, gorgeous & heartbreaking album. Well played, Beck. Or Well played, myself, I could say.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By John on December 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I'm purposefully staying away from hearing other's renditions so that I can interpret these myself, but I can tell you from looking through the music that the songwriting is very much like the Mutations album. Like Mutations, there's a bluesy folk style and dark lyrics - the lyrics being darker here.

I'd highly recommend this if you're a Beck fan (especially if you liked Mutations), and even if you don't plan to play the songs, and even if you're not a musician. Like some pieces by Erik Satie, there is a lot in the sheet music for you to appreciate as you follow along. Artwork, whimsical instruction (e.g. the tempo marking for "Do We? We Do" is "Rhetorically") and quips, etc.

There are loads - tons - of unfinished thoughts here also, in addition to the twenty songs. Many of the sheets contain "ads" for other songs, which are all cut short. It will be interesting to hear how others finish these. There is a "hidden track" - the ad behind "Last Night You Were a Dream" is a complete song, with a similar melody and chords.

The packaging is excellent, very well made. The songs come as individual sheets, much like you would have found them back in the day. Most are written for piano and voice, with guitar tabs on top (a surprising number of songs with ukelele tabs instead). There are two songs ("The Last Polka" and "Mutilation Rag") that are written for piano only, with no chords. Loads of thought went into the artwork and the ads, all very retro Tin Pan Alley in style.

It'd be great if other artists did this, maybe less as a retro-style project and more as a regular, present-day occurrence.
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By Denver Dilettante on July 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Leave it to Beck to deliver his musical versatility in a format once loved by hundreds of millions, now virtually (heh) abandoned: sheet music. All twenty songs are charmingly rendered in easy-to-follow notes/chords/lyrics, and adorned by many different visual artists with a multitude of mostly retro covers. There are many back-of-the-songsheet oddities (ads, fictional songs and "songs"), as you would expect from Beck + McSweeney's. Even if you are not a musician, this is a really cool object to hold and view and consider.

The songs? Mostly very good. A few are difficult (the one in 7/4, for example), a few are a little uninspired, but about half of them are REALLY good. Beck has reigned in his impulse towards excessively surreal lyrics, for the most part, in an attempt to make them more approachable. You can find online YouTube versions, but most of the interpretations I've checked out are not very impressive. If you are a musician, try them out yourself. More fun than a barrel of sea monkeys!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sam on March 14, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I don't play music but love Beck and plan on framing these pieces. Incredible artwork by themselves and even better when musicians come over.
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