Bob Dylan – Shadows in the Night

Shadows of the Night

Bob DylanShadows in the Night Columbia 88875057962 (2015)

Rock, country, etc. musicians making albums of traditional American pop “standards” are just something that needs to be accepted as some kind of sad inevitability.  They sell like hotcakes.  If you set aside the category of singers like Scott Walker, who seemed fit for traditional pop from the outset, there is a long history of “crossover” attempts in this direction.  Just before The Beatles broke up, Ringo Starr released Sentimental Journey (1970), a collection of standards.  The biggest pioneer, though, was Harry Nilsson, with A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night (1973).  That was followed by João Gilberto‘s Amoroso (1977) and Willie Nelson‘s smash hit Stardust (1978), and everything from Linda Ronstadt‘s What’s New (1983) to Sinéad O’Connor‘s Am I Not Your Girl? (1992), Rod Stewart‘s It Had to Be You… The Great American Songbook (2002), and beyond.  Sure, Dylan had done crooning before, if you paid attention (you probably didn’t).  But doing a standards album at age 73, well, it seems to prove Keith Richards‘ claim that Dylan’s “christian” phase was a ploy to sell records.  After all, to promote Shadows in the Night, Dylan gave an exclusive interview with the magazine for AARP (American Association for Retired Persons).  Who else but old, retired people want to buy an album of standards?  Yeah, Dylan sings better here than on Christmas in the Heart, but who cares?  His voice is still ravaged, and there are better singers out there to do pure singing.  And Frank Sinatra albums are still available…