On Friday (July 1), famed songwriter and performer Beck is set to drop a new Audible Original, Dear Life, as part of the platform’s Words + Music series in conjunction with Gunpowder & Sky.
Videos by American Songwriter
The new project spans many of his songs, including “Loser” and “Where It’s At,” and includes many personal stories from the musician. The release marks the 28th of the Audible Original series, which has also included big names like Eddie Vedder and Pete Townsend.
The 51-year-old Los Angeles-born Beck, who rose to prominence in the early 1990s, has been a mainstay in popular music ever since.
Below is a sneak preview of the Grammy Award-winning Beck talking about his mother’s connection to Andy Warhol, his relationship to songwriting, and his similarities to actor Michael Cera. Check out the audio, as well.
Beck on discovering his mother’s connections to Andy Warhol and The Velvet Underground.(LISTEN HERE)
“I was raised by New Yorkers, essentially. My mother was a third, fourth-generation New Yorker, grew up in the village. She was part of the whole downtown scene in the Sixties, from a young age got involved with Warhol and The Factory. She was good friends with Edie Sedgwick and they made films together. Her boyfriend, I believe, was Gerard Malanga, who was Warhol’s right hand. She has a whole story that would take more than an audiobook to get into but she had quite an interesting upbringing. There was no way to access photos or any kind of history on that kind of stuff at the time, so I didn’t know. In fact, my mom told me these stories, like she saw that I discovered The Velvet Underground. It was just like a revelation because this idea of music and Warhol making art and films and it all intersecting with performance and multimedia and these songs that were so ahead of their time. And it was a complete eye-opening discovery. And I remember I had the first record, maybe the first and the second one, and my mom making a casual remark and like, oh I knew those guys. I was like, really? She’s like, yeah, I used to dance with them, dance on stage when they would do their performances. But that was all way before my time. So not really a reflection of my childhood, but the connection is interesting. It’s not like I was growing up in New York and going to Lou Reed’s house or anything. But eventually I did.”
Beck on the human experience in his songs. (LISTEN HERE)
“At best with music or art or film, you’re just bringing a little bit of effervescence to the sludge of what people are going through and getting through their life. If anything, art or a song, it just reminds us of the human. And there’s certain aspects of our culture and society and work that dehumanizes, and we have to rehumanize. That’s part of, one of the things we do. For some people it’s spirituality and they go worship in a church. Some people go to a concert and sing really loud or dance all night. Some people just play sports. So these are all different outlets. In that way, part of the human experience is these songs. I don’t really look at it from any kind of celebrity aspect or success or fame. It’s purely, you’re going to be lucky to come up with one melody that’s going to be remembered for maybe 30 or 40 years. Maybe you’ll have one, if you’re lucky or maybe you don’t even have that. Maybe you just come up with something that inspired somebody else to write something better that is going to be remembered. And so in that way, it’s the continuum. We’re all kind of in the same band.”
Beck on why in one hundred years people will think he and Michael Cera are the same person. (LISTEN HERE)
“If I really think about how I think about music and where I’m coming from, obviously genre isn’t something I define myself on. I think of music as this larger construct that all these different genres or ways of making a song are just all different constructs and they’re all equally valid. None of them should really define you. The real core of what the music is, is the person, the voice, the melody, the chord movement, what these mixtures of harmonic and melodic and lyrical elements create, what kind of effect they have on you, whether it’s with this kind of instrumentation or sound is irrelevant to me. That’s all kind of window dressing. Ultimately anything made in the 20, and 21st century is all going to sound like the same thing to people in 500 years. And honestly, in a hundred years, people will be like, oh yeah, that was Beck? Michael Cera is Beck, right? They’re the same person?”