Marcus Mumford and Elvis Costello working on unfinished Dylan album

Alongside T Bone Burnett and My Morning Jacket's Jim James, the collective are composing original music to go with the singer's Basement Tapes lyrics from the late 60s

• Bob Dylan performs My Back Pages at his 30th anniversary concert - video
• Various artists: From Another World, A Tribute to Bob Dylan – review

T Bone Burnett is working with Marcus Mumford, Elvis Costello and My Morning Jacket's Jim James to record a collection of Bob Dylan's unfinished, decades-old songs. The musicians are composing original music to go with Dylan's original lyrics, written around the time of his late-60s Basement Tapes.

"These are not B-level Dylan lyrics," Burnett explained in an interview with the LA Times. "They're lyrics he just never got round to finishing."

As with Billy Bragg and Wilco's Mermaid Avenue albums, which used unreleased lyrics by Woody Guthrie, or a more recent Hank Williams project, to which Dylan contributed, Lost On the River: The New Basement Tapes is a mixture of Dylan's words, from a half-century ago, and the participants' modern musical ideas. Burnett has already recorded almost 50 tracks, working with the above artists as well as Carolina Chocolate Drops singer Rhiannon Giddens and Dawes guitarist Taylor Goldsmith. All of the songs are collaborations; in some cases, several musicians wrote music for the same lyrics, making for multiple versions of the same songs.

Unlike the original Basement Tapes, which were mostly recorded in the basement of the Band's Big Pink house, these new sessions are being laid down at Hollywood's Capitol Studios. "This is the exact opposite of The Basement Tapes," Costello told the Times. "We're in the best recording studio in the world, and we're not in a basement."

The whole process will be documented in a film directed by Sam Jones and aired on the United States' Showtime network. "The discovery of these previously unknown Bob Dylan songs that were thought lost since 1967 is the stuff of Hollywood fiction," he said in a statement. "These days and nights in the studio have been nothing less than magical."

Both the film and the album will be released this fall.


Sean Michaels

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Bob Dylan's New Basement Tapes – a first listen

Bob Dylan gave T-Bone Burnett a set of unrecorded lyrics to be set to music. The results are a credit to all concerned

Richard Williams

16, Jul, 2014 @3:08 PM

Article image
T Bone Burnett: How I set lyrics for Bob Dylan's new Basement Tapes to music

T Bone Burnett: Wanting to do justice to Dylan and be true to the spirit in which the lyrics were originally written, Burnett got together with musicians including Elvis Costello and Marcus Mumford to produce a new album

T Bone Burnett

20, Jul, 2014 @5:15 PM

Article image
Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes review
T Bone Burnett assembles Elvis Costello and other worthies for an album that taps into the same deep wells of Americana from which Bob Dylan’s original sprouted, writes Jon Dennis

Jon Dennis

20, Nov, 2014 @10:30 PM

Article image
Elvis Costello, Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow

Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow

James Stuart

09, Oct, 2003 @10:35 AM

Elvis Costello, Barrowlands, Glasgow

Barrowlands, Glasgow

Dave Simpson

11, Oct, 2004 @10:35 AM

Article image
Elvis Costello, London


Maddy Costa

17, Apr, 2002 @11:00 PM

Elvis Costello
Elvis Costello has come a long way since the days when he sang his heart out as a knock-kneed punk in an ill-fitting suit and big glasses. After collaborations with the Brodsky Quartet and, more recently, Burt Bacharach, some feared that one of our finest singer-songwriters was destined to spend his mature years snuggled deep in the easy-listening category. And what was he doing in that Spiceworld movie?

James Hopkin

17, Nov, 1999 @12:00 AM

The first 10: Elvis Costello, Momofuku

An album informed by noodles? Graeme Thomson tells us not to worry: this is Elvis at his best

Graeme Thomson

18, May, 2008 @9:48 AM

Article image
CD: Elvis Costello, North

(Deutsche Grammophon)

Dave Simpson

12, Sep, 2003 @12:42 AM

Article image
Elvis Costello – review

Costello's wheel of 40 songs allows him to explore the full panoply of his songbook and every emotion and style, writes Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson

20, May, 2012 @6:21 PM