Triplicate: Why a Cover Album?

Triplicate: Why a Cover Album?

Bob Dylan has a really impressive career behind him. He is one of the very few who have won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe (both for “Things Have Changed” from Wonder Boys in 2000), along with numerous Grammys and a Nobel prize in literature (there are just a handful of famous personalities who have won both a Grammy and a Nobel prize, most of them for speeches, not musical pieces – like Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama). A few weeks ago, Dylan has released a new album – his first three-disc set called “Triplicate”. As with his previous two studio albums, Fallen Angels and Shadows in the Night, this one also contains covers of classic American songs – 10 songs on each disc, arranged in a sequence, exploring the roots of the big band culture from where they emerged. The arrangement of the songs is not random at all, after all, they are not real money online casino games – they share a common theme, making them interconnected.

As Dylan said in a rare interview given to Billboard, all the songs are “thematically they are interconnected, one is a sequel to the other and each resolves the previous one”. Besides, they are also strategically chosen for each disc to total 32 minutes of playtime.

Although Bob Dylan has won a literary Nobel prize for the way his use lyrics expanded the world of music, songs have always represented more for him than just music and lyrics. After all, the music itself carries as much meaning as the words spoken – sung – along with it, and the lyrics themselves lose a lot of their meaning without a melody. And he repeatedly proves this on Triplicate.

While some of the songs are almost upbeat and lighthearted, like “That Old Feeling” and “The Best is Yet to Come”, the majority of the tunes included on the three-disc recording are downbeat pieces reflecting on a loss. The choice for the musical score is also unique – Dylan uses no strings, no big band, yet still, manages to give all songs the fullness and impressive nature of the original.

This is not the first time Dylan sings Sinatra. At first, the idea seemed a bit far-fetched – after all, the two have very different tonalities. But he delivers different – yet very impressive – renditions of these classics in his “weather worn” voice, leaving all the mannerisms of the 1950s and 1960s aside and reaching into their blues core. The result is a material that’s almost “spooky”, bittersweet, or, as New York Times critic Jon Pareles writes, “suspended between an inconsolable present and all the regrets of the past”.

One comment

  1. I was surprised when Dylan did his first release of standards. Then it occurred to me that throughout his career, by way of being a singer-songwriter who gave us life experiences in song, Dylan has always had a certain intimacy in his delivery — we felt he was singing to us, not to the crowd. Perhaps this is the quality that allows him to sing from the Great American Songbook.

    Willie Nelson may have been the first to cash in on these retro standards. His Stardust album remains one that everyone should have in their collection. I remember reading an article many years ago which made the argument that Nelson’s Stardust album illustrated the fact that American music is really all of one piece in spite of our need to break it out into country, pop, rock, jazz, etc. Nelson, a country singer, gave us “Unchained Melody” (The Righteous Brothers, 1965), “On the Sunny Side of the Street” (a widely recorded standard in the 1930’s and 40’s),”Someone to Watch Over Me” (a Gershwin show tune),and Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust” — all in his typical Willie Nelson style.

    Glen Campbell even tapped into that concept from the beginning of his career. His concert repertoire included country, pop, easy listening, and Broadway show tunes — all of which might add to the argument that all of American music is of a piece — variations on a theme, so to speak. Maybe all of this speaks to why Dylan is doing these covers.

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