Beck made a point of not recording any of the tunes in Song Reader, his new book of original sheet music, because he didn’t want musicians to be overly influenced by his own performances. As you can tell from these versions recorded by a variety of professional and amateur musicians, some went their own way with the material, while others hemmed close to his own established styles.
1. “Don’t Act Like Your Heart Isn’t Hard”
2. “I’m Down”
3. “Saint Dude”
Kurt Andersen put together a band of staffers from two New York public radio stations for this cover on “Studio 360.”
4. “Do We? We Do”
5. “Eyes That Say ‘I Love You’”
The Portland Cello Project has actually recorded every song from the Song Reader.
6. “Now That Your Dollar Bills Have Sprouted Wings”
7. “Please Leave a Light on When You Go”
8. “Rough On Rats”
This version, which features Ed Harcourt on keys and the Libertines’ Carl Barat on vocals, was recorded during a special performance of the full album at Rough Trade East in London.
9. “Old Shanghai”
Stephin Merritt from the Magnetic Fields performed this version on WNYC’s Soundcheck.
11. “Why Did You Make Me Care?”
13. “America, Here’s My Boy”
Liela Moss from the Duke Spirit joined Ed Harcourt for this track, also from the London show.
14. “Just Noise”
15. “We All Wear Cloaks”
Here’s an adorable home video take on “We All Wear Cloaks.”
16. “Mutilation Rag”
Here’s another track from Kurt Andersen’s “Studio 360” session. Did I mention he wore a Beck mask and played xylophone with a Sharpie?
17. “The Wolf Is on the Hill”
These guys are taking a cue from Beck’s Record Club and recording a new song every week.