Max Miller Performs Beck Hansen's Song Reader

by Max Miller

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about

When Beck announced that he would be releasing his new album as a book of sheet music with no recordings, Max Miller went straight to work. By that evening he had read, programmed, and recorded the song, "Do We? We Do", releasing it online less than twelve hours after the project had been announced. In the days following, the track had been written about in Forbes, played on BBC Radio 6 Music, and even mentioned in an interview by Beck himself. Max saw the release of Song Reader as a personal challenge to step inside Beck's world- a world that has inspired him since writing his very first song, The Flylight Zone, when he was 9 years old.

Cutting himself off from the outside world and avoiding other people's interpretations, Max immersed himself in the sheet music. Losing himself in each song, he surfaced for air with a deep understanding and personal connection to the lyrics. Sometimes he stayed close to the sheet music. The previously mentioned "Do We? We Do" is a simple piano, guitar, and vocal arrangement. However, in other tracks, Max wasn't afraid to test his musical ingenuity, whether crafting the music from manipulated recordings of objects from his father's kitchen on "We All Wear Cloaks" or ignoring the sheet music entirely and basing the song just off of the concept on "Mutilation Rag". 

The songs shift genre and definition from track to track. The stripped down acoustic take on "Sorry" is followed by the dubstep-opera inspired "Why Did You Make Me Care?", sung by the alluring Anna River. The album also features a bluesy duet with alliteration ally Rachael Roth on "Now That Your Dollar Bills Have Sprouted Wings", as well as a meeting of the minds from around the world, pondering the end of days on "The Last Polka." When you finally reach the album's massive closing track, "Last Night You Were A Dream", you may feel as if the album itself was a dream. With Max Miller Performs Beck Hansen's Song Reader, Max wants to take you on a journey. How far are you willing to go?

credits

released 08 July 2013

Music and Lyrics by Beck Hansen

Arrangements, Interpretations, Instrumentation, Vocals, etc by Max Miller

Cover art by Seth Toles

Also featuring the voices of:
Rachael Roth
Anna River
Yoko Nakada
Nick Rouke
Naldo Garcia
Rachel Lynch
Coco Monyemangene
Omri Bernstein

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Track Name: Don't Act Like Your Heart Isn't Hard
Don't act like your heart isn't hard
And that the joker isn't your card
Changing your tune as you put up your guard
And go whistling past a graveyard

You can change your mind like you're changing your clothes
Though you dress in rags and you turn up your nose
When it makes no sense, I will act like it does
And come to your defense though I have no weapons

So don't act like your heart isn't hard
And that the truth in your head isn't dark
You can't turn Tin Pan Alley into a boulevard
And go whistling past a graveyard

Don't want the pretense of what love shouldn't be
It will bore you to death before setting you free
To be just as good or bad as you are
In the eye of a storm, we will both be sorry

You could hide your tears behind the facade
Of a thousand jokes you thought I forgot
And then blame me for no longer laughing

Everyone's cruel at times
When you're not at your best
And you're crossing the line
I'll look past your mistakes
If you look past mine
And go stumbling past a gold mine
Track Name: I'm Down
I'm down and this town is a nuisance
It'll put your backbone all in ruin
With the area code of a truant
I'm fluent in the hazards of love

Feed a warrant to a billy goat
Fix the spelling on a suicide note
A get-well card from a holy ghost
To a begger who smells like a rose

I'm down and I feel like a loner
There's a skyscraper city below her
I wanna feed my heart to a cobra
'Cause nothing ever happens to me

Like a blessing disguised as a curse
Like a sermon that's run out of words
Like a cage that can't keep any birds
I can't keep my arms around you

I'm down, I'm down and this town is a backdrop
A back road over a roadblock
With a debutante in a tanktop
Who's telling me how to be free

Like a prayer in a personal ad
Like a knife in a broken back
Learn to love what you can't get rid of
Before it gets rid of you
Track Name: Saint Dude
Saint Dude, you've come a long way from your solitude
Like a sage whose sooth with something crude
'Cause you know the truth is ugly, Saint Dude

Ascension Day, there's a plan skywriting out your name
The people stood and watched it blow away
'Cause nothing's good until it's gone away

You are ascending, no more pretending
Leave these earthly days
Your fable's tainted, pipe dreams are faded
Your revelations came too late
And you're a saint

In 2068, they'll keep a vigil burning in your name
With the gospel of a parking valet on the way
Apostles from a mall won't let you fall from grace

Now you're unloading your baggage
Floating on the Sea of Galilee
You walk on fodder, turn wine to water
Lay down your song at Peter's Gate
And you're a saint
Track Name: Do We? We Do
Do we ever want to take the low road?
Do we ever just want to say we're through?
Do we want to lock the door and throw away the key?
Do we? We do

Do we want to just look on the dark side?
Do we want to wallow in the mire?
Do we want to feel the world's against us?
Do we? Yes we do

Do we think it's sometimes just a nuisance
And other times a travesty to all
Who've tried but only fallen to ruins
With their broken backs up against the wall

Do we want to say it's just a fool's game
That no one but the wickedest can win?
And do we want to play it with our last dime?
Oh do we? We do

Do we wanna say that things are changing?
And they're only changing for the worse?
And do we want to drink while the ship's sinking?
Singing our lord's praises like a curse

Do we want the enemy's misfortunes
To rain down like a million rotten eggs?
Down upon the crown of creation?
Do we? We do
Track Name: Eyes That Say "I Love You"
When the night has gone cold and you're standing so alone
On the threshold of the rest of what you know
When the fever has died out, turned a flood to a drought
Left a chill inside that's growing like a ghost

You'll come running with eyes that say 'I love you'
You'll be blind, you'll be blind
And I won't know you, I won't see you
I won't need you, I won't love you anymore

When the poison from the would slowly takes hold of you
And the only way not to drown is not to fight it
When you're falling down the stairs with your superstitions and despair
On a helter skelter fall to your demise

Oh you thought that you would never need
What I could have given
If you'd given half a chance

Start again from the end, from beyond where you've been
You can't wash away your sins in shallow water
Cast a stone in a grave of the plans that you made
They only go as far as you can throw them

You'll come running with eyes that say 'I love you'
You'll be blind, so blind
And I won't know you, I won't see you
I won't need you, I won't love you anymore
Track Name: Now That Your Dollar Bills Have Sprouted Wings (feat. Rachael Roth)
I had fourteen dollars in my inside pocket
And twenty-two more up my sleeve
There was cold hard cash lining up my jacket
But I did not have a dime when I did leave

When I got here I was carrying roses
When I had to go, I was only holding dirt
Well I walked in here wearing a tuxedo
But I left wearing an old t-shirt

They say it's hard times, don't I know it
I'm sleeping on a bed made of nails
Well I used to live way up in the penthouse
Now I can't even get a room in the county jail

Now that your dollar bills have sprouted wings
And I don't think they'll come around next spring
Just like birds of prey, they will take what's yours and fly away
Now that your dollar bills have sprouted wings

Well I came to town on a pile of diamonds
Now I'm leaving on a wheelbarrow of dust
With IOUs glued to my eyelids
Sitting here watching my safe rust

Watching all your coins roll down the gutter
And all your champagne going down the sink
Is there something that you're trying to remember?
Or is that string around your finger a wedding ring?

Now that your dollar bills have sprouted wings
And I don't think they'll come around next spring
Just like birds of prey, they will take what's yours and fly away
Now that your dollar bills have sprouted wings
Track Name: Please Leave A Light On When You Go
How fast can a heart shatter
Before you're walking on splinters?
Your head aches just to feel what it knows
Please leave a light on when you go

How can you fix something
That you can't touch without hurting?
The lesson you've learned is leaving you dumb
Please leave a light on when it's done

Standing high above the flood line
Watching all your belongings go by

How can you see the ending
When you're lost at the beginning?
The day hides all that the night left behind
Please turn a light on when it dies
Track Name: Rough on Rats
Your crawfish fingers and your dirty dregs
Your sideways stingers and your wooden legs
They're throwing out jewels like rotten eggs
'Cause it's Christmas in Siam
And we're rough on rats

Your scarecrow spiders and your shipwreck bones
The fossilized bibles of Geronimo Jones
His star spangled army in their roadhouse clothes
'Cause a hero can't bronze his soul
And we're rough on rats

There's shattered glass on the dance floor
A cop chaperoning a doll
The testament of a landlord
Who's living in a hollow log

The burlap flowers and the cocaine dirt
The horn of plenty in a desert of hurt
The corduroy boy in the killjoy shirt
He's a stereotype on ice
And we're rough on rats

So what do you think you could take from the heap
Where the haystack needles are piled up cheap?
You can buy what's useless and steal what you need
In the pink penitentiary
And we're rough on rats
Track Name: Old Shanghai
When you're walking in old Shanghai
Lanterns under the night sky
See the moon begin to rise
Just like it did back home

Old men smoking in cafes
Junk boats floating in the bay
Think of me while you're away
In old Shanghai

With no ties, with no plan
Your last dollar in your hands
Take a picture and send it back
To someone you used to know

Things will always find their way
From the backroads to the bay
There's more to do than there is to say
In old Shanghai

Things will always find their way
From the backroads to the bay
There's more to life than you or I will ever say
In old Shanghai
Track Name: Sorry
I've been hanging around again
Hang my head on the ground again
Turn my face to the wall
Turn my head to the wall

Nobody knows you when you're feeling sorry
Nobody needs you when you're feeling sorry
I'm sorry
I'm sorry

Used to be happy
Used to be laughing
Used to be happy
Ohh

I've been walking around again
Tongued tied over the town again
Stranded out in the hall
Thrown right over the wall
Track Name: Why Did You Make Me Care? (feat. Anna River)
Why did you make me care?
Make me want you there
Leave my arms both bare
And break my defenses

How did you make me feel
Like I couldn't feel
What I thought was real
Was one step from senseless?

Time falls asleep
While I'm trying
To keep from crying
Over all the lies
That you told
While I was just left behind
To drink down the dregs
Of you

Why did you make me need
What could only bleed
Just a heart you feed
With some pretty poison?

Where should I keep these tears
In a thousand years
Will they disappear
Or be an ocean?

Time falls asleep
While I'm trying
To keep from crying
Over all the lies
That you told
While I could have almost died
And drained down the dregs
Of you
Track Name: Heaven's Ladder
Look up heaven's ladder
Watch the angels climb down
As if they knew what was the matter
With those down on the ground
Oblivious to danger
Those who walk up on the clouds
They'll tumble down, down on the ground
Where there's nowhere else to go

But only further down into the hole
You could see the whole world
Down below, down below, down below
Where there's nowhere else to go
Just as far as nowhere
And then you're on your own

Anyone who's learned their lesson
And burned their hand
They'll still look at someone else's
Answers if they can
'Cause cheating's better than guessing
When the answer is that there's none to be had
But you'll still wonder if there's nowhere else to go

But only further down into the hole
You could see the whole world
Down below, down below, down below
Where there's nowhere else to go
Just as far as nowhere
And then you're on your own

Now that you know how high the hook and ladder goes
From the highest rung down to the lowest low

And now you know that there's nowhere else to go
But only further down into the hole
You could see the whole world
Down below, down below, down below
Heaven's ladder, it only goes
As far as nowhere and then
You're on your own
Track Name: America, Here's My Boy
He came into this world, helpless and unformed
I held him in my arms as he lay newly born
I said I would protect him and soothed him with my voice
America, here's my boy

I taught him to say words and stand up on his feet
I held his tiny hand as we crossed the street
I told him that his days should be sown with joy
America, here's my boy

We watched them play soldiers out on the schoolyard
Pretending that the enemy was nothing like we are
With glory for the hero whose weapon's just a toy
America, here's my boy

They said there were sacrifices greater than the need
The strength beyond blood that no mortal hand can bleed

The letter I received, I held it in my hand
And though the words were clear, I could not understand
How the memory lives beyond what can destroy
America, where's my boy?
America, where's my boy?
Track Name: Just Noise
If you hear my heart breaking
And you don't know what it is
Don't be alarmed, it won't do you no harm
It's just noise, it's just noise
It's just noise, it's just noise

If you notice my hopes falling
As the scatter across the floor
Don't be concerned or startled
It's just noise, it's just noise
It's just noise, it's just noise

When I'm walking through the city
Looking for where my thoughts have run
Inside there's nothing working
No one knows what I've become

If you hear my wheels turning
And you don't know where I've gone
Don't look outside, don't bother your pride
It's just noise, it's just noise
It's just noise, it's just noise
Track Name: We All Wear Cloaks
We all wear cloaks
We all wear cloaks
We all wear cloaks
We all wear cloaks

Salamander rolling zig zag
Marching to a humdrum
Between the truth and a cryptogram
Like skeletons struck dumb
In a closet gilt in camouflage
All the secrets of the world
Your conscience running rough shod
The swine are throwing back your pearls

We all wear cloaks
We all wear cloaks
We all wear cloaks
We all wear cloaks

Don't let anybody find out
What a lamb could never tell
Who conceals it with a smile
Like a crack in a liberty bell
Put a dollar in a martyr
Who rode a dead horse home
Through the eye of a needle
That burst the bubble of a holy ghost

We all wear cloaks
We all wear cloaks
We all wear cloaks
We all wear cloaks

We all wear cloaks
We all wear cloaks
We all wear cloaks
We all wear cloaks
Track Name: The Wolf Is On The Hill
The wolf is on the hill
The bird is in the briar
The thorn is on the rose
And your time is on the wire

Those days of grave concern
Have turned themselves to silence
While the winter fires burn
What was left of kindness
So hide what you have learned
Show off what you've squandered
And give yourself a turn
See how far from home you've wandered

The wolf is on the hill
The bird is in the briar
The thorn is on the rose
And your time is on the wire

Take apart circumstance
And set it on a fault line
An avalanche of the past
Locked inside a goldmine
And when you cannot stand
On the legs god gave you
The road has turned to sand
That your will sunken into

The wolf is on the hill
The baby's in the briar
The worm is on the rose
And your word is on the wire
Track Name: Title Of This Song
You've taken the title of this song
From a life that's beyond
Something that you could belong to
But is it wrong to sing along
When all of the words
They just get on your nerves
And the verse is ringing out like a curse

I'm tired of this old refrain
Is the chorus you sang
When you had no one to blame
But yourself for singing it all in vain

You've taken the title of this song
From a book that goes on and on
'Til you can't find the ending
Was it a funeral or a wedding?
Or a seance for the bride
Whose affection had died?
Though some say love is suicide
My heart it don't make any sense
Was all that she said
When her love was found dead
But the story was all in her head

You've taken the notes from your head
And played them out loud
On a public announcement instead
'Cause all of your thoughts get distorted
The feedback goes on and you've ruined the song
While everyone just plays along
It's only the notes that you've played
That drowned the thoughts
From a song that was lost

There was nothing but the song we were singing
There was nothing but the song we were singing
Track Name: The Last Polka
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Track Name: Last Night You Were A Dream
Last night you were a dream
Now you're just you
And I am just a fool
Someone you once knew
Before the night was over
After love was through
Last night you were a dream
Now you're just you

In midst of innocence
Experience arrives
Like a guest you can't impress
The future in disguise
Questioning the things you know
Then asking for too much
Dressing all your hopes in woe
Then kicking out the crutch

Last night you were a dream
Now you're just you
And I am just a fool
Someone you once knew