Producer T Bone Burnett has found a way to extend the legacy of Bob Dylan's legendary "basement tapes," recordings the singer-songwriter made with members of the Band in the late Sixties in upstate New York that were heavily bootlegged until their official release in 1975.
With Dylan's permission, he has enlisted the likes of Elvis Costello, Mumford and Sons' Marcus Mumford and My Morning Jacket's Jim James to write and record their own songs using lyrics Dylan penned during his basement sojourn for a release titled Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes, according to the Los Angeles Times. The release is due out this fall.
"These are not B-level Dylan lyrics," Burnett told the Times. "They're lyrics he just never got around to finishing."
The original Basement Tapes sessions yielded at least 30 songs – 24 of which were issued as The Basement Tapes in the Seventies – that Dylan worked on with the Band in the foundation of a pink West Saugerties, New York house, affectionately called "Big Pink," which also served as the springboard for the Band's debut, Music From Big Pink. In addition to the music that made it out, Dylan wrote many lyrics during that time that were never recorded.
The Burnett-helmed sessions will produce an estimated 50 or so "new" Dylan songs. The rock and folk icon's only involvement in the release has been allowing his lyrics to be used and giving the project his blessing. Each artist, which also includes Dawes' Taylor Goldsmith and Carolina Chocolate Drops' Rhiannon Giddens, has written their own music for the lyrics. They have recorded multiple versions of the same songs and each has worked with one another to record the music needed.
Song titles for the new project include "Florida Key," "Card Shark," "Hi-De-Ho" and "Lost on the River," tough Burnett and his group have not yet decided how many songs will come out on the release.
The making of the new album will serve as the basis for a Showtime documentary dubbed Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued, by filmmaker Sam Jones. It is scheduled to premiere in the fall.
But that cinematic touch is not the only departing point from Dylan's original sessions. "This is the exact opposite of The Basement Tapes," Costello told the Times in Capitol Records Studio A. "We're in the best recording studio in the world, and we're not in a basement."