Elvis Costello took the reins of the New Basement Tapes on The Tonight Show Monday night, leading the supergroup — which also features My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, Mumford & Sons’ Marcus Mumford, Dawes’ Taylor Goldsmith and the Carolina Chocolate Drops’ Rhiannon Giddens — through “Lost on the River,” the title track of their new tribute to Bob Dylan‘s rarities, Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes.
With Giddens layering her strong, sultry vocals on top of Costello’s quivering bellow, the New Basement Tapes sailed smoothly through Dylan’s tale of life-saving love. Like every track on the new compilation, Dylan wrote the lyrics to “Lost on the River” during his famous Basement Tapes sessions in the late Sixties, but the music is brand new — this song a sweet, swaying folk number with rough blues edges that the group composed and arranged during their own sessions with producer T Bone Burnett.
While Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes was Burnett’s brainchild, he did get Dylan’s blessing and permission to use his lyrics before the group went about writing new music. The LP even features a special appearance from Johnny Depp, who played guitar on “Kansas City” when a gig forced Costello to miss a recording session.
The writing and recording process was also filmed for Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued, an upcoming special that will air on Showtime on November 21st at 9 p.m. EST. In October, Rolling Stone premiered an exclusive clip from the documentary, which shows Costello leading the group through a rollicking rendition of “Six Months In Kansas City (Liberty Street).”
Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes, which saw release on Monday, coincides with the release of The Basement Tapes Complete box set, which includes all 130 tracks Dylan recorded during those famed secret sessions in the Saugerties, New York home known as Big Pink. To commemorate the occasion, Rolling Stone‘s latest issue retraces the long history of The Basement Tapes, from Dylan’s 1966 motorcycle crash that preceded the sessions to the myriad bootlegs that have been released over the years to the painstaking creation of the new box set.