A Bob Dylan tribute album with a modern mind-set to celebrate Amnesty International’s golden anniversary.
ANYONE who ever doubted the transformative power of Bob Dylan’s music need only look to Ke$ha. Yes, Ke$ha. The irreverent pop star known for singing about brushing her teeth with “a bottle of Jack” turns poignant while covering a song from one of music’s great lyricists on the new four-disc Chimes of Freedom: The Songs Of Bob Dylan Honouring 50 Years Of Amnesty International. The project features 75 newly recorded Dylan songs by 80 artistes, including Malaysian singer-songwriter Zee Avi, Adele, Sting, Sugarland, Elvis Costello, hip hop artist K’naan and others to support the human rights organisation. Ke$ha is one of the more unlikely stars to contribute to the compilation available now. The pop star defined by party anthems like Tik Tok and Your Love Is My Drug took on Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright. As she found herself alone in her bedroom for the first time in months, the words of the song – about a person bidding goodbye to a lover - took on a new, deeply personal meaning. She realised she was saying goodbye to her carefree, former life – before big hits and world tours brought on pressure and priorities. She broke down as she began singing, and the emotion is captured on the record.
“Everything has changed. It’s amazing, but there are moments that are incredibly lonely. This caught me at one of those incredibly lonely moments, and it really struck home. There’s a line, ‘It’s KNOCKED sideways a decade ago by online piracy, the record industry had a spring in its step in the run-up to the Midem trade fair last weekend, buoyed by figures suggesting legal downloading has taken off for good.
“As we enter 2012, there are good reasons for optimism in the world of digital music,” Frances Moore, head of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), told reporters ahead of the annual Riviera event, which ran from Jan 28-31.
Industry figures show the digital music business register unprecedented global expansion in 2011 – suggesting music lovers are finally turning their backs on piracy and are willing to pay to download the records they want.
Moore, whose organisation represents the interests of the recording industry, says “consumer choice has been revolutionised” and that legal download services with expanding audiences now reach across the globe.
Last year saw a jump in the reach of digital music services, with sites such as Spotify, Deezer and Sony’s Music Unlimited now available in 58 countries worldwide compared with 23 at the start of 2011. a long and lonesome road, babe, where I’m bound I can’t tell.’ It’s tragically relevant,” said Ke$ha.
“I think these are all positive things for young people to see that you can be strong and you can be irreverent and you can say what you want and you have the freedom of speech, but I’ve learned that vulnerability is actually an asset. It can be just as much of an asset as strength.”
Ke$ha isn’t the only eye-popping name on the compilation: Nineteen-year-old Miley Cyrus does a rendition of You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go. The project has a wide range of acts, from Maroon 5 to 92-year-old folk legend Pete Seeger, who sings Forever Young with a children’s chorus. Dylan waived the publishing rights to his entire catalogue, and all of the artistes, musicians, engineers and others involved in the recording process did everything pro bono.
Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, who recorded Man Of Peace, describes it as “thin ice” to cover an artist as iconic as Dylan, because not only are his songs brilliant, but his performances of those songs have
Digital music revenues grew an estimated eight percent to Us$5.2bil in 2011, while the number of people paying to subscribe to music services leapt 65% to 13.4 million become so revered themselves.
“(Artists like Dylan) know where (the songs) live and breathe and where the heartbeat is. So covering them can be a touchy thing,” said Perry, who recorded the Dylan song Man Of Peace. “Hopefully you don’t make it different just for the sake of making it different. I just wanted to kind of reinterpret my take on the song and just have fun singing it.”
Legendary country artiste and actor Kris Kristofferson considers Dylan a personal friend but says he’s been an inspiration and a hero a lot longer than that. Johnny Cash introduced them while Kristofferson was working as a janitor at Columbia Recording Studios in Nashville in the 1960s.
At 75, Kristofferson says he has been around long enough to understand and appreciate Dylan’s impact on music.
“If you look at pop songs before Dylan, none of them were poetry like his are. He opened up the doors for creative writers and made songwriting to me what it is today,” said Kristofferson, who covers Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn).
“Music was a whole lot different worldwide, IFPI estimates show.
The industry looks to be emerging from a 10-year crisis and online music sales are finally proving viable. when I was a little kid. Pop music was lifted up as an art form by Bob Dylan.”
British pop singer Natasha Bedingfield recorded Ring Them Bells in Nashville during her US tour last year. She said she used to listen to it as a kid with her brother and sister.
“To me the song is about freedom, ‘ Ring them bells for the blind and the deaf, for the innocent,”’ she said. “For me it felt quite poignant, particularly for this album, where Amnesty is all about people who are being unjustly treated.”
Chimes Of Freedom is a follow-up to Amnesty International’s 2007 collection of John Lennon songs performed by major artists, called Instant Karma, which raised over Us$4mil for their efforts in Darfur.
“Music has been at the heart of so many movements for change,” said Julie Yannatta, who served as the album’s executive producer with Jeff Ayeroff. “Music has a way of reminding us who we are at our essence and what we need to do to live together in a better world, and Amnesty is very much a part of that.” – AP