Beck hopes fans will record their own versions and upload them to the Internet so those songs grow into something more universal.
As for his own recorded music, that's a little more complicated.
Beck's not sure where he's headed at the moment. He recorded an album in 2008 but set it aside to work with Charlotte Gainsbourg on "IRM," which he wrote and produced. He's also been writing songs for soundtracks and special projects and producing artists like Thurston Moore, Stephen Malkmus and Dwight Yoakam. All that has left him feeling creatively satisfied, but he does acknowledge it's been a while since he released 2008's Danger Mouse-produced "Modern Guilt."
He says in many ways he's reached a crossroads he's not yet sure how to navigate.
"This last year I've been thinking about whether I'd finish those songs (from 2008), whether they're relevant or worthy of releasing. I know that doesn't sound very definitive," he said, laughing, "but that's the kind of place I'm in - in this kind of limbo - and, um, yeah."
The "Song Reader" spurred Beck to think about his own work in a new light as well. Spending six months finishing off the project after working on it sporadically over the years, he was struck by how much craft went into the creation of each song and how quickly music can come into existence today.
"There is so much music out there, to me," he said. "I don't know if it's just where I am in my own music making or if it's a product of the amount of music out there, but I feel like a piece of music does have to have a certain validity to be put out there and to ask people to listen. . . . I feel like it's impossible for everyone to keep up, you know, so I guess I've been feeling like maybe there's something to picking what you're going to put out, about being more particular about what you put out."