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Beck Aims to Keep Fans' "Idle Hands" Busy On New Album

September 14, 2006 10:49 AM ET

For his new album, The Information, due out October 3rd, Beck has created a video for each song, which will be embedded with digital downloads of the tunes, and widely available for free on YouTube.com and elsewhere. It's part of the freak-folk forebearer's plan to help redefine the album for the digital age. "We're moving into time where the song and the imagery and video are all able to exist as one thing," he tells us. "It's not even technically an audio thing anymore, it's something else."

In addition, each physical copy of the album will come with a mostly blank cover and, inside, a sheet of stickers (each disc will have one of four possible sheets) so each owner can create his or her own album art. "We're giving people an assignment," Beck says. "It's something to do with their idle hands while they listen to music so they don't get into trouble, just doing our part."

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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