Skip to main content

FUV Album Premiere: Bob Dylan's 'Shadows in the...

by

There will be plenty of conversation about, and some criticism of, this new Bob Dylan album—his 36th—called Shadows in the Night. The haters shall hate. Bob Dylan is my top favorite artist with Sinatra coming in a close second, so you can imagine how excited I am about this project.

I've already fielded a bunch of complaints like "he can't sing," "he sounds old," and "he's not a crooner." While I hear and appreciate those comments, you cannot deny giving Dylan some artistic license with this album. He has toiled in the songwriting fields for decades with great—some would say immeasurable—impact. The opportunity he has taken here to show us his influences must be liberating for him: it's Dylan as a fan, as well as an artist. It's clear that he is a true Sinatra fan since most of these songs come from deep in Frank's catalog.

The ten songs that make up Shadows in the Night come from the 1920s through the 1960s, and all were recorded by Frank Sinatra. In a recent interview, Dylan said that for any performer, "Frank’s got to be on your mind. Because he is the mountain. That’s the mountain you have to climb, even if you only get part of the way there."

Dylan succeeds in bringing these songs to the present through relatively spare arrangements, since most of these songs were originally performed with a big band or orchestra. Dylan filters them through his tight, five-piece Americana band, with pedal steel, upright bass and guitar leading the way. Dylan's voice is right at the center.

At the age of 73, Dylan is working hard. The "Never Ending Tour" rolls on, and with this album he gives us a chance to follow him down a meaningful artistic path. I'm with him!

We'll play songs from Shadows in the Night hourly today on FUV. Tonight on The Whole Wide World at 7, I'll dig up some of the Sinatra originals and put them alongside the new Dylan versions for some interesting sets.