It’s only been in the past week that the news that Dylan has recorded a second album of standards has made headlines. And yet we’ve actually known that a second album’s worth of material was recorded since early January.
Why the delay?
Slightly over two months ago, I posted that Al Schmitt, the recording engineer for the Dylan Shadows in The Night sessions, had said in an interview that Dylan had recorded enough songs – 23 in total that had been previously recorded by Frank Sinatra — for two albums. And in that interview Schmitt referred to Shadows in The Night as “this first album,” implying that there would be a second.
The video interview with Schmitt appeared on YouTube on January 4, 2015.
Although the interviewer, Stephen Peeples, planned a wide-ranging conversation covering Schmitt’s long career working with Frank Sinatra, Henry Mancini, Cal Tjader, Al Hirt, Rosemary Clooney, Liverpool Five, The Astronauts, Sam Cooke, Steely Dan, Neil Young and many more, almost immediately they started talking about the latest album Schmitt had completed: Shadows In The Night.
During that interview we learned two key facts. Although Shadows In The Night would include ten songs, Dylan had actually recorded more than twice that many songs.
“It worked great, and overall we did 23 songs,” Schmidt said. “Only 10 are on this first album.”
When Peeples asked Schmidt about a second album, Schmidt seemed to back off that he had previously implied.
“I have no idea, I don’t know,” Schmitt said. “I have no idea. And with Bob… He won’t tell you [laughs].”
We also learned from Schmitt that all the songs were “a re-interpretation of songs that Frank Sinatra did in the ‘40s and early ‘50s, although as it turned out one, “Stay With Me,” was written in 1963, one, “Where Are You?,” was written in 1937 and one, “What’ll I Do?,” was written in 1923.
In his ARRP interview it seemed that Dylan tried to downplay the fact that Shadows In The Night is an album of songs previously recorded by Frank Sinatra, but according to Schmidt, that’s exactly what it is.
“It’s a re-interpretation of songs that Frank Sinatra did in the ‘40s and early ‘50s,” Schmidt said.
And Schmidt explained: “He would listen to the songs over and over and get Sinatra’s intention on what he was doing with the song. Then he would only do two or three takes on each tune, but he would make it his own. It had nothing to do with Sinatra. He’d just learn what the song was about and whatever. It was an interesting way to work. It was a lot of fun.”
It wasn’t until last week, when Daniel Lanois confirmed that there would be a second album, that the news made headlines. Rolling Stone, Newsweek and The Guardian are just some of the many news media who have reported the news.
“He came to my house eight or six months ago and spent a few hours,” Lanois told the Vancouver Sun. “We listened to 21 songs — because he’s made two records of this (Sinatra project). And he said, ‘Let me tell you, Dan: If you have the time, can I tell you how I grew up?’ So we sat in the kitchen. I hadn’t heard a note.
“He spoke for an hour and a half on how, as a kid, you couldn’t even get pictures of anybody. You might get a record but you didn’t know what they looked like. So there was a lot of mystery associated with the work at the time. As far as hearing live music, he only heard a couple of shows a year, like the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra might come through.
“But the music he did hear really touched him and he felt that a lot of that music was written not only by great professional songwriters at the time, but a lot of it was written from the heart, from the wartime, and people just pining for a lover. He felt there was a lot of spirit in that music. He felt there was a kind of beauty, a sacred ground for him.
“After having said all that, we then listened to the music and I felt everything that he talked about. For one of America’s great writers to say, ‘I’m not gonna write a song. I’m gonna pay homage to what shook me as young boy,’ I thought was very graceful and dignified.”
So far Dylan’s publicists have not confirmed that there will be a second album.
-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-
[I published my novel, True Love Scars, in August of 2014.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book. Read it here. And Doom & Gloom From The Tomb ran this review which I dig. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]