We have free Showtime at our house for the next few weeks. After a REALLY long day at work yesterday, I watched The New Basement Tapes Continued, a documentary playing on Showtime. I had no idea what it was about, but it started with a shakily-filmed montage of images of turntables and Budweiser cans, drum kits and vintage amps in a basement so obviously, I was all-in.
It turns out, Bob Dylan spent a summer in a $250/mo rented farm house in rural upstate New York in the late 1960’s. He scribbled lyrics on note paper and scraps and at the end of the summer, left all of it in a desk drawer. He never did anything with them and when asked about them in recent years after they were discovered–he barely remembered writing them at all.
So T-Bone Burnett, being the BA music advocate that he is, gathered some top-notch songwriters and gave them some of the lost Dylan lyrics. He asked them to write music based around the lyrics, then invited them to a Capitol Records studio space in LA. Here’s Burnett’s rendition of the story:
As the documentary played on, I tried to do other things. Fiddle with my phone. Make dinner. Feed my dog. Organize notes for work. But I kept freezing in place–these five artists created some of the most beautiful melodies I’ve heard in a long time. Maybe ever.
I’ve been playing the album on repeat all day. My favorites: Kansas City, When I Get My Hands on You, Nothing To It, Liberty Street, Down on the Bottom, Florida Key, and Stranger. My least favorites: Any of the tracks where Rhiannon sings lead.
Check it. You need it in your life.