Friday, October 19th, 2007
Highway 61 Revisited
While Todd Haynes’ Dylan pseudo-biopic I’m Not There isn’t out until late November – the 21st in the US in limited release and the 28th in Canada, presumably also in limited release – the soundtrack will be out on October 30. And while the concept of having different actors “cover” a single figure in the same film, as Cate Blanchett, Richard Gere, Christian Bale and others do in I’m Not There is far more novel, the soundtrack of Dylan covers is just as star-studded.
You’ve got the likes of Jeff Tweedy, Karen O, Cat Power, Yo La Tengo and Calexico all over the place across two CDs and 34 tracks and Dylan himself shows up on the title track. They’ve got four of the tracks – the contributions from Tweedy, Cat Power, Sufjan Stevens and Jim James streaming off the record’s MySpace and I gotta say, the way Cat Power wraps her voice around Dylan’s words on “Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again” as though each syllable were a delicious morsel is particularly sumptuous. If that’s where the bar for this record is set, then hot diggity dog. But then, I love Dylan, I love most of these artists and I love covers – It’s probably mathematically impossible that I’d dislike this collection.
And so I’m pleased to be have, courtesy of Filter, two copies of the soundtrack to give away. If you want to take a shot, I want you to leave a comment below telling me what your dream Dylan cover would be – who doing what song and why. Because even though he may well be the most oft-covered musician in history (save maybe the Beatles and even that I won’t say is a gimme), there’s surely far more interesting potential permutations out there. I want to hear em. Make sure to leave an email address you’re contactable at – spamproof it if you need – and I’ll pick two winners on October 29, so get entries in before midnight the eve of October 28.
Random thought – anyone dressing up as one of the Dylan personas for Hallowe’en? No? Too dorky? Gotcha.
And to celebrate the release of the film – and to celebrate Dylan in general – they’re holding a special concert in New York City on November 7 that will feature many of the artists on the soundtrack as well as others singing the songs of Bob. I’m sure tickets would be nigh impossible to score even if you did live in New York, but you can be certain that there’ll be something – webcast, DVD, concert album – released to allow the rest of us to sit in on the show.
And finally, while the film got mixed reviews when it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last month, the Rotten Tomatos rating is a little more promising. And even if it does turn out to be a failure, it’ll at least be a spectacular one. Either way, I can’t wait. Check out the just-released second trailer to the film and I’ve dug into my own vaults for a few Dylan covers that I’ve posted over the years. Just to get you in the mood. Update: Here’s the New York Times interview with Todd Haynes that Aimz mentioned in the comments – thanks!
Trailer: I’m Not There (trailer 1)
Trailer: I’m Not There (trailer 2)
MySpace: I’m Not There
MP3: Billy Bragg – “Positively 4th St”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “It Takes A Lot To Laugh It Takes A Train To Cry”
MP3: Mojave 3 – “Girl From The North Country”
MP3: Drive-By Truckers – “Like A Rolling Stone”
While we’re discussing tribute albums to living legends, let’s talk Neil Young. In 1994 an all-Canadian double disc entitled Borrowed Tunes was released with one disc dedicated to his acoustic work (Out Of The Blue) and one to his electric (Into The Black). I was then, as I am now, a raging Neil-o-phile so I had it on cassette and played it to death but in hindsight, I didn’t really care for a lot of the artists on it. But when you’re working with material as good as Neil’s, even the most uninteresting performer can sound decent. Except for Our Lady Peace’s “Needle And The Damage Done”. That was just abhorrent. ANYWAY the point is that 13 years later, they’ve released a sequel album – Borrowed Tunes II and honestly, it makes the lineup from the first one look like the ’77 Canadiens. Who wants to hear Finger Eleven butcher “Walk On”? No one, that’s who.
More interesting is the Cinnamon Girl compilation, which is accurately subtitled “Women Artists Cover Neil Young for Charity”. It’s two discs of, well, women artists covering Neil Young and the proceeds are going to Casting For Recovery, a foundation for breast cancer recovery. It’s not exactly and all-star cast but the presence of Tanya Donelly and Britta Phillips is certainly enough to get my attention. There’ve been a number of delays in the album’s release but they’re promising that pre-orders will ship this December, well before the formal retail street date of February 2008. You can stream a few of the songs on the album’s MySpace page.
And a little while ago I pointed to the first part of an ongoing piece at Stylus that was trying to inventory every Neil Young cover ever recorded. Obviously it’s nowhere near comprehensive, but it’s still an impressive body of work they’ve put together. And while not striving for authoritativeness, The AV Club’s Neil Young primer is a good intro to the man’s long and fascinating career. The next chapter in said career, Chrome Dreams II, is out on Tuesday and he plays three nights at Massey Hall on November 26, 27 and 29. The first 18-minute single is still available to download and you can preview four of the songs from the new record with these sorta-videos.
MP3: Neil Young – “Ordinary People”
Video: Neil Young – “Dirty Old Man” (YouTube)
Video: Neil Young – “The Believer” (YouTube)
Video: Neil Young – “The Way” (YouTube)
Video: Neil Young – “Spirit Road” (YouTube)
Lastly, we’ve got some Springsteen. No, not that Arcade Fire video (which, if you don’t know what I’m talking about you probably don’t care), but a cover of “The River” by Josh Ritter that’s been released to the internets. It’s a live performance from Berlin and it’s okay, but only reminds me of how much better Crooked Fingers did it on the Reservoir Songs EP. When it comes to rough, raw and emotive vocals, Ritter can’t touch Eric Bachmann… but not many can. Also worth reading are eye‘s cover story from last week looking at how Springsteen became the ubiquitous name-drop in indie rock references that he is today and Radio Free Canuckistan’s interview with Mac McCaughan of Merge/Portastatic/Superchunk about the same (it was conducted as research for the eye piece). And The Idaho Statesman has an interview with Ritter, MPR a session.
Okay, no more classic rock tributes? Fine.
NME is premiering the video for the new Bloc Party single. The song isn’t anything exceptional but the video is goofy fun.
Video: Bloc Party – “Flux” (WMV)“
Both Maximo Park and Bloc Party are involved with the Love Music Hate Racism organization in the UK and have contributed tracks to a free awareness CD released in the UK this week. Maximo’ Paul Smith talks to XFM and Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke to NME about why they participated in the project.