When Bob Dylan announced he was planning to put out an album of Frank Sinatra covers, many were amused at the thought of Dylan, the grouchy growler, mumbling and bumbling his way through tunes made famous by one of the greatest voices of the last century.
Sinatra fans feared that the bark and bite of Dylan’s aging voice would butcher the pristine and crisp quality of the songs made famous by old blue eyes. Dylan fans, on the other hand, greeted the news with trepidation, and feared that by trying to sing Sinatra staples, Dylan might just come across as an enthusiastic wino who had drunk just a little too much Thunderbird during open mic night at the big top.
After all, who but the most hardcore Dylan fan would argue that Bob’s voice has lost much of its clarity and power in the last 10 years, to the point he often sounds as if he’s singing through his nose or trying to bring something unsavory up from the back of his throat.
However, the engineer behind Dylan’s new album, Al Schmitt, insists that Shadows in the Night is a truly special project in every sense of the word.
Ultimate Classic Rock reports that Schmitt was gushing with praise for the record, and confessed it reduced people to tears.
“People broke down crying, listening to the record. It’s like nothing you’ve ever heard Dylan do.”
Schmitt reveals Dylan cut 23 tracks for the record, with 10 of them making the final album.
“Dylan picked some obscure songs that are great songs.”
The sessions for Shadows in the Night were held at Capitol’s historic Studio B, and Schmitt reveals recording Sinatra’s songs was done in pretty much the same way they were originally recorded.
“He came in to the room, and he started looking around and talking. He liked the acoustics. He said, ‘Boy, this one sounds really nice. Where would I be singing?’ I said, ‘Right where you’re standing.’ So, that’s where the mic went, the vocal mic. And then it was his band. We had an acoustic guitar, an upright bass, light brushes on the drums, an electric guitar and a steel guitar. No headphones, everybody around him. When he couldn’t hear enough of the rhythm guitar, we just moved him closer. Everything was live. … There was no tuning, and there was no fixing. Everything was what it was. That’s part of the charm of the record.”
Dylan fans will be excited to know, that not only has the majesty of Shadows in the Night already moved people to tears, but Dylanhimself told Schmitt, “I never heard my voice sound this good before.”
You can find out for yourself if Dylan’s judgment is bang on the buck when Shadows in the Night is released in February.