Bob Dylan is a folk hero and a masterful songwriter. His lyrics speak to a generation of people who went through a history of turmoil and conflict that culminated in the rebirth of American cultural society. In a recent interview with NPR, the musical legend described growing up listening to Sinatra and how he always aspired to be as great a singer Sinatra was. It is this long-term adoration of Sinatra that led Dylan to re-record some of Sinatra’s best in his latest album Shadows in the Night.
While the project is not surprising—musical legends often seek to emulate the other legends who preceded them—it’s still odd hearing someone as enigmatic in the music world as Dylan speak of Sinatra with such reverence. However, Dylan’s sincerity illuminates every note in the album, a necessary plus considering the obvious—Bob Dylan really cannot sing. While skeptics would read this and assume that the resulting album would be a garbled mess, Dylan surprises by sticking to Sinatra’s slower ballads and interpreting them in a way that complements his shaky folk vocals.
“Stay With Me” in particular highlights the raw beauty and of this album. “I grow cold/ I grow weary/ And I know/ I have sinned,” Dylan croons to a gentle backing guitar. For older fans of both Dylan and Sinatra, the album is sure to bring back faded, loving memories. For newer audiences, the album is slow and steady, one that will stay with you just as these two great singers have continued influencing and inspiring musicians from past to present.