SHADOWS IN THE NIGHT
1. I’m a Fool to Want You
2. The Night We Called It a Day
3. Stay With Me
4. Autumn Leaves
5. Why Try to Change Me Now
6. Some Enchanted Evening
7. Full Moon and Empty Arms
8. Where Are You?
9. What’ll I Do
10. That Lucky Old Sun.
February 3, 2015, has been announced as the release date. The statement from Bob on bobdylan.com is as enticing as it could be. Aside from the unfortunate "me and my band" which for two good reasons should be "my band and I", he still has a way with words:
“It was a real privilege to make this album. I've wanted to do something like this for a long time but was never brave enough to approach 30-piece complicated arrangements and refine them down for a 5-piece band. That's the key to all these performances. We knew these songs extremely well. It was all done live. Maybe one or two takes. No overdubbing. No vocal booths. No headphones. No separate tracking, and, for the most part, mixed as it was recorded. I don't see myself as covering these songs in any way. They've been covered enough. Buried, as a matter a fact. What me and my band are basically doing is uncovering them. Lifting them out of the grave and bringing them into the light of day.”
I'm delighted to learn of the inclusion of 'Some Enchanted Evening' and 'That Lucky Old Sun' and hopeful that the rest will be less dull than 'Full Moon and Empty Arms'.
In the case of 'I'm A Fool To Want You' he's treading not merely in Sinatra's footsteps but in Billie Holiday's too. The film 'The Night We Called It A Day' sounds more interesting than the 1941 song: the story is that "Frank Sinatra (Dennis Hopper) and his entourage become virtual prisoners in their hotel after he insults an Australian reporter during a 1974 tour." As Dylan has shown in recent concert encores, 'Stay With Me' is a fine song, and strikingly reminiscent of some of his own Christian material. 'Autumn Leaves' started out in French as 'Les Feuilles Mortes' ("the dead leaves" - this less "poetic" lyric by the poet by Jacques Prévert) and has been covered by everyone from Edith Piaf (bilingually) to Eric Clapton, though never more solemnly than by Yves Montand.
'Why Try to Change Me Now' is yer typical Sinatra-does-sophisticated-weariness-with-a-touch-of-whimsy, but includes a line I look forward to hearing Bob sing: "Why can't I be more conventional?" The Sinatra version of 'Where Are You' shows his voice at its non-swinging peak, though he can't escape the song's essential dreariness; and 'What’ll I Do' (what a lot of questions without question-marks, according to bobdylan.com), an Irving Berlin song from 1924, is a rather more delicate and tender thing, at least on the earlier of Mr. Frank's two recordings (1947). There's a Rosemary Clooney version that has already saved Bob the trouble of stripping away and replacing that 30-piece orchestra - it has just a guitar - and this is replicated on the Julie London version.
Regardless, I've been wanting to hear Bob sing 'Some Enchanted Evening' since about 1970 - and indeed that's the year I wish he'd recorded it. (It was once rumoured that he had.) That's the Bob Dylan voice I'd like to have heard him sing it with. As for 'That Lucky Old Sun', well, it's a gem that many people have polished, including Bob. According to bobdylan.com he has performed it 27 times, though never more recently than the short version done in California in 2000. He first performed it at Farm Aid in 1985. I always love it, but I'm specially keen on the version from Madison Wisconsin from November 5, 1991 (a great concert altogether, and one that included a song I've often gone on about, 'You Don't Know Me'). There are other, striking versions galore: not least those by Big Mama Thornton and several by Jerry Lee Lewis, this included. The most delightfully wacky version - though wacky isn't always what's wanted - is surely that by the venerable lunatic Lee Perry, who has re-named it and claimed composer credit.
There are many Dylan eras I prefer to the present one - many voices, many bands, many styles - but, as he sang on his last great album, "We'll just have to see how it goes".