Belle and Sebastian
Illustrated Lyrics

A beautiful collaboration between Belle and Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch and illustrator Pamela Tait, a unique visual reinterpretation of Murdoch’s favourite songs

  • $58.00


“Do you spend your day second-guessing fate? Looking for a way to live so divine?”

From the imagined lives of the passengers riding Glasgow buses in the early 1990s to questions raised about the status quo and musings on the meaning of religion, Stuart Murdoch, frontman of Scottish indie pop band Belle and Sebastian, has written some of the most captivating lyrics of the past two decades. Belle and Sebastian recorded their first critically acclaimed album Tigermilk in three days, played a sold-out show at the Hollywood Bowl with the LA Philharmonic, and famously forgot their drummer, dressed in his pyjamas, outside a Walmart. Their songs have animated many film soundtracks, developing a cult following that has helped to define the sound of indie music as we know it today.

The first in Volume’s Illustrated Lyrics series combines the words selected from over twenty-four years of Belle and Sebastian songs with specially commissioned illustrations from Scottish artist Pamela Tait, whose intricate and whimsical character illustrations Stuart Murdoch stumbled upon and fell in love with when he rediscovered old fan mail Pamela had sent to him over a decade ago. Set with expressive typography, this is an exceptional publication that will seduce even the most devoted fans to ‘see’ these wonderful songs afresh.

Extra import charges will now apply to all EU customers. For more information see our Delivery and Returns page.


Stuart Murdoch


Pamela Tait


Music/visual culture


220 x 150 mm
128 pages
Hardbound in real cloth with slipcase
Tipped-in cover image

The book

Celebrating lyrics spanning the band’s ten studio albums, as well as those from songs yet to be released, the book begins with a foreword written by Stuart Murdoch and includes classics like ‘Ever Had a Little Faith’, ‘Slow Graffiti’, ‘The Boy Done Wrong Again’ and many more.

Bound in real cloth and tucked inside its own smart slipcase, the book is printed in five colours to the highest quality, with a specially selected Pantone used throughout. Typographic layouts inspired by Concrete Poetry enliven exquisitely reproduced illustrations commissioned exclusively for the book from Pamela Tait.

This edition is exclusive to Volume and is available for a limited time only.

Murdoch’s songwriting makes the band special. His ability to commiserate with his characters, even when he seemed to get a kick out of writing them into humiliating situations, made him a patron saint of outcasts and losers. He is a kinder, gentler Morrissey: an anti-rock star who doesn’t make it all about himself, even when it is.


The illustrator

Pamela Tait is a Scottish artist who lives on the Black Isle. She expresses her own folklore through illustration, seeing patterns and faces in her surroundings. In their different ways, Murdoch and Tait carve out characters from everyday life – allowing their imaginations to run with a glimpse of a stranger on the street or a formation in the bark of a tree.

For Tait, it was important to preserve the images conjured in any individual fan’s imagination, so she avoided illustrating each character and storyline literally. Instead, she looked beyond the evocative narratives to allow an image to emerge from within her own imagination, a process which Murdoch has embraced. Tait’s gentle and dreamlike characters evolve from the ethereal worlds of Murdoch’s songwriting, coming to life on the page and creating a rich new conversation between two curious minds.

Psychological prisoners, Glasgow rock scene drunkards, London wankers, forlorn cabbies and recorder soloists people [‘The Boy with the Arab Strap’], one of B&S’s most danceable tracks.



Illustrated Lyrics

In collaboration with London-based music company FORM, Volume is creating Illustrated Lyrics, a series of beautifully made, illustrated publications devoted to the art of songwriting and storytelling. This covetable and limited collection of books pairs great lyrics with visual art, bringing music to the realm of illustrated publishing through creative conversations between thinking musicians and their choice of visual artists.

With the disappearance of music packaging – record covers, CD cases, liner notes – the fullness of the listener’s experience has been lost, and musicians are not always credited for their role as lyricists, even though their words can be equal in power to the melody itself. With this series of collectible little books, the songwriter’s words are back in the spotlight and elevated to new levels through the art of illustration and book-making.

Songwriter Stuart Murdoch [is] a generational talent, a writer who intuitively wedded the forensic character studies of Joni Mitchell to the chamber music of early John Cale, lending a Dylan-esque sophistication to the Sarah Records bands that were his sonic progenitors.


Meet the author

Stuart Murdoch is a Scottish musician, writer and filmmaker. He is the founding member, lead singer and songwriter for Belle and Sebastian. At the end of the 1980s, while at university, Murdoch became ill with chronic fatigue syndrome, and was unable to work for seven years. Murdoch has said that the isolation of these years is what led to his becoming a songwriter: “That was a big desert at the time, a kind of vacuum in my life. From that, these songs started coming out, these melodies where I could express what I was feeling.” By early 1995, Murdoch had largely recovered from his illness and began to look for fellow musicians to form a band, which became Belle and Sebastian.