242-Track Birdsong Project To Feature Top Names In Music, Film

Randall Poster-created compilation will benefit Audubon Society’s bird conservation efforts
Randall Poster (photo: Luke Franke / Audubon).

An astounding collection of top names in music, film, literature and beyond have contributed to For the Birds: The Birdsong Project, a 242-track album assembled by famed music supervisor Randall Poster. The project will be released digitally in five different volumes every month from now until September, with the first arriving today (May 20). A limited-edition 20-LP vinyl boxed set will also be available later this year. All proceeds will benefit the Audubon Society’s work to preserve bird habitats.

Poster was moved to begin work on For the Birds during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the quiet New York streets began to amplify the sounds of nature. Reaching out to his wide array of friends and collaborators, he discovered many of them were experiencing the same realizations as they quarantined around the world, and he began formulating a way to channel these feelings into birdsong-inspired music.

Among the contributors are Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, Damon Albarn, Elvis Costello, Beck, Mark Ronson, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, Beach House, Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ frontwoman Karen O, Yo-Yo Ma, The Flaming Lips, The Beastie Boys’ Adam Horovitz, Kurt Vile, Terry Rile, UNKLE, Jarvis Cocker, Neu!’s Michael Rother and Kamasi Washington. Writers such as Jonathan Franzen, Maggie Smith and Mary Oliver are present as well, with their work recited by everyone from Bette Midler, Jeff Goldblum, Matthew McConaughey and Olivia Wilde to Sean Penn, Robert Pattinson, Tilda Swinton and Florence + The Machine’s Florence Welch.

“I’m awed by the overwhelming artistic response to this unique project,” says Poster, who is perhaps best-known for his long-running film and music collaborations with director Wes Anderson. “Their creation of so many thoughtful and distinct recordings, united in birdsong, is a wonder unto itself. My hope is for the project to increase awareness of threats to bird populations, and I’m honored to support the Audubon Society’s essential work in conservation.”

“This should be so very obvious — without birds we would be knee-deep in worms, swarmed by bugs, the trees bereft of song,” adds Costello. “The least we can do is raise our voices in praise or lament. I’m grateful to Randall for asking me to join his magnificent flock.”

 

Poster was assisted on For the Birds by Wild Belle’s Elliot Bergman, producer Rebecca Reagan, Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo and producer/engineer Stuart Lerman, all of whom are executive producers on the project. As part of the rollout, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden will host a For the Birds-themed exhibit from June 11-Oct. 23, while Warby Parker will donate 20,000 limited-edition “Birdoculars” to cultural institutions supporting bird conservation.

 

Here is the track list for For the Birds: The Birdsong Project volume 1:

Album #1

Side A:
1. “Wood Dove” – Performed by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis
2. “Archangel” – Performed by Beck
3. “Seeds” – Performed by Alaska Reid and A.G. Cook
4. “The Morning” – Written by W.S. Merwin. Read by Danielle Haim
5. “Fly On” – Performed by Karen Elson
6. “Fly Away (With the Songs)” – Performed by Michael Rother & Vittoria Maccabruni

Side B:
1. “On the Wing” – Performed by Jim James
2. “Honey, in the Wild” – Performed by Josh Kaufman feat. Annie Nero
3. “Unbroken Wing” – Performed by Mike Campbell
4. “Migration of Birds” – Written by Gary Snyder. Read by Wally Wolodarsky
5. “May 18th 1929 Lost” – Performed by Alex Somers

Album #2

Side A:
1. “Bird Calling” – Performed by Mark Ronson feat. Damon Albarn & Wale
2. “One for Sorrow” – Performed by UNKLE
3. “Once Let Free” – Performed by Emily Cross
4. “Kyoto: March” – Written by Gary Snyder. Read by Jelani Cobb
5. “Sanctuary” – Performed by Beach House
6. “Welcome Morning” – Written by Anne Sexton. Read by Natalie Bergman

Side B:
1. “Mine Is Not Your Beauty” – Performed by Uwade
2. “Birds for Phil” – Performed by Spring Summer
3. “Una Melodía” – Performed by El Búho feat. Emilie Basez
4. “Bone’s Lament” – Performed by Darius Christian & Reginald Chapman
5. “Nouns of Assemblage” – Performed by Blake Mills
6. “Elsewhere Bird” – Performed by Richard Reed Parry
7. “The Garden” – Written by Mark Strand. Read by Tennessee Thomas

Album #3

Side A:
1. “Counting Birds” – Written by Jim Harrison. Read by Sean Penn
2. “Kachofugetsu” – Performed by Kaoru Watanabe
3. “St. Francis and the Birds” – Performed by Terry Riley
4. “Birdsong” – Performed by Tawiah
5. “Crow Dialectic” – Performed by Elliot Bergman

Side B:
1. “A Grandchild’s Song for Robins in Year Two of Pandemic” – Performed by Ray Young Bear
2. “When the Birds Were Banished from the Palace” – Written by Saoirse Stice. Read by Jack Kornfield
3. “Birds Return” – Performed by Hatis Noit
4. “Salt Point” – Performed by Tyondai Braxton
5. “Forty Songs” – Performed by Lee Ranaldo. Lyrics by Michael McClure
6. “Wounded Bird” – Performed by Kurt Vile

Album #4

Side A:
1. “Cuckoo Song” – Performed by Jarvis Cocker
2. “Cuckoo Bird” – Performed by Haden Triplets
3. “Hummingbird” – Written by Raymond Carver. Read by Donald Ray Pollock
4. “Hum Hum Hum” – Performed by Karen O
5. “Whistling in the Dark – Performed by Molly Lewis
6. “Sparrow” – Written by Norman MacCaig. Read by Tilda Swinton

Side B:
1. “Oreals” – Performed by Rudresh Mahanthappa
2. “Fly Catcher” – Performed by James McAlister
3. “State Bird” – Written by Ada Limón. Read by Mickey Sumner
4. “The Calling” – Performed by Nick Rhodes & Wendy Bevan
5. “Bluebirds (2021 Acoustic Version)” – Performed by Adam Green
6. “Why Does the Girl Bird Sing” – Performed by Suzzy Roche

IMPACT

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