Finnegans Wake—the whole damn book—set to music.

Let that sink in for a minute. Can you imagine what an undertaking that would be, setting the epic Jame Joyce tome to music? Derek Pyle not only imagined it, he pulled it off: involving over 100 musicians, readers, and artists from 15 different countries to contribute to the ongoing project.

Waywords and Meansigns features original music and readings from Mike Watt, whose knowledge of and love for Joyce’s work was evident early on in his storied career (look no further than Double Nickles on the Dime). Spider Stacy of The Pogues is a also a featured performer, as are Jason Sebastian Russo and Paul Dillon of Mercury Rev fame.

“James Joyce basically invented his own language when writing Finnegans Wake,” explains director Derek Pyle in the project’s press release. “It’s the kind of thing that demands creative approaches—from jazz and punk musicians to sound artists and modern composers, each person hears and performs the text in a way that’s totally unique and endlessly exciting.”

Want a taste? Here’s three minutes of the hour-long piece, featuring Mike Watt and Santa Fe performer Adam Harvey.

Watch for the full release on May 4 at Waywords and Meansigns. Wanna get involved? Submit your own recordings for future inclusion in the project and get involved. Bringing the work of Joyce into the digital age and to a new audience is quite the undertaking. Derek and his motley crew of musicians and creatives seems to have figured out a pretty unique and intriguing way to do it.


Image courtesy of Raymond Pettibon