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

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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.

Contributor

Sean Michaels

The GuardianTramp

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