Dion DiMucci’s upcoming LP Blues With Friends (out June 5th) features an amazing assortment of guest artists, including Van Morrison, Jeff Beck, Billy Gibbons and Paul Simon along with new liner notes written by Bob Dylan. Patti Scialfa and husband Bruce Springsteen also appear, performing “Hymn to Him.”
DiMucci picked the artists himself and he thought that the track, which originally appeared on his 1986 LP Velvet and Steel, would be perfect for Patti Scialfa. “I’ve always liked Patti’s voice and I’ve been a fan of hers for quite a while,” he says. “She has this soulful vibrato thing going on and I heard it in my head when I thought about doing this song. I’ve always had it on my mind because I think a song doesn’t get tired, although the singer might. I just never got that song to where I wanted it to live until now.”
He e-mailed the track to Scialfa: “I would have been happy had she just done some harmony parts or vocal echoing on some lines,” he said. “I mean, I just wanted her to hum along on some of the solos, but she had a different idea. She had a whole other arrangement in mind and did this layering kind of thing and I just have to say she captured the wind of the holy spirit, truly something beautiful and sublime.”
Springsteen is also a lifelong fan of DiMucci’s and they have performed together a number of times over the years. “When Patti was listening in the home studio they have, Bruce heard what she was doing and he thought he’d add a try a little something on guitar,” DiMucci says. “And it was terrific, what he did add just so much gravitas.
“The whole thing went far beyond my expectations,” he adds. “It’s like at the Olympics where the pole vaulter figures he can, maybe, do 19 feet and ends up clearing 23. I thanked Patti for letting the guy she lives with play on it without my having to pay for it. Those two really took it to someplace remarkable.”
In his liner notes, Dylan wrote of Dion: “Dion knows how to sing and he knows just the right way to craft these songs, these blues songs. He’s got some friends here to help him out, some true luminaries. But in the end, it’s Dion by himself alone, and that masterful voice of his that will keep you returning to share these Blues songs with him.”