Monday, January 21, 2013

Sorry is the Hardest Part

I've been a fan of Beck since I heard "Loser" back in 1994. His latest work, Song Reader, isn't an audio recording. Instead, he's released twenty new songs as a collection of sheet music, inviting people to record and share their own interpretations. Although the design of the collection is nostalgic, the concept of fostering crowd-sourced creativity is cutting edge.

I loved the idea when I first heard about the project and pre-ordered a copy back in August. Unfortunately, when I received the beautifully done package in December, I had just come down with a cold. It ended up turning into a frustrating month of sore throat and minor laryngitis. I'm finally on the mend. Talking is fine. Singing is still sketchy.

Despite my croaking, I've been playing through some of the songs over the past month. I fell in love with one in particular, "Sorry," and haven't been able to get it out of my mind. I finally broke down over the weekend and decided to record it, thinking I could come back with a replacement vocal track and some harmonies when I'm back up to full strength. I ended up actually liking the slightly wavering and pitchy vocal that emerged for its vulnerability. It goes well with the feel of the track, especially when paired with this edit of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

I held off listening to other people's renditions until I cut my own track. They range from avante garde to folk to rock. Some are great. Some not so great. But it's fascinating to hear how different people interpret a song they've only encountered through the sheet music.

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