Chimes of Freedom

I’ve spent the last couple of days listening to Chimes of Freedom, The Songs of Bob Dylan.  This tribute project benefits Amnesty International as it celebrates it’s 50 year existence.  Coincidentally the amount of time Bob has been putting out great music.  I’m always intrigued by projects like these, but this one has held my attention since it was first announced.  Not only the tracklist, but also the artists involved caught my eye.  The compilation includes 76 tracks by 80 artists.

My first thoughts as I started to listen and look at the track listing was that this was a great way to pull a new group of people into Dylan’s music.  I recently heard my 17 year old son talking about the band Silversun Pickups and how they were one of his new favorites.  When I saw that they covered Not Dark Yet on this album, I immediately gifted the album to him on iTunes.  But then something funny happened.  I listened to the track and it blew me away.  A beautiful, haunting rendition of a song that is intended to be haunting.  I became an instant fan of this band that my son likes.  See how that works, the album pulls people both directions.was announced.  Primarily due to the size of the collection and the artists represented in the work. This collection is huge.  76 songs and 80 artists.  All for under 20 bucks.

There were other big surprises as well.  Blake Mills, who has primarily been a studio session guitarist, is incredible on Heart of Mine.  I’m doubly happy that this track made the list.  One of my favorite songs from Shot of Love.  I didn’t even think anyone listened to Shot of Love but me.  Jennifer Nettles from Sugarland also blew me away with Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You.  Not only does she break away from her country tendencies, but this has an R&B feel reminiscent of Motown in it’s prime.  Finally, I really liked Flogging Molly’s take on The Times They are a Changin’.

In the “true to form” category, I liked Joan Baez on Seven Curses, and Boots of Spanish Leather by The Airborne Toxic Event.  Carly Simon also does a great job with Just Like a Woman.  Just Carly and the piano.  Simple and pure.

There are a few disappointments for me, as well.  I’m not going to say any of the songs is bad.  They are all great in their own right and genre.  Some don’t appeal to my taste, but I know they speak to the fans of that type of music.  My disappointments are around what’s not on the album.  No Bruce Springsteen.  Any album is better if Bruce is involved and he has been known to contribute to this type of project.  No Waifs.  I was introduced to the Waifs when they traveled with Bob a few years ago.  They started as a Dylan cover band and would have done a nice job with any song from the catalog.

Finally, there are the gems of the album.  At the end of nearly 4 hours of listening, you hit the gold mine.  Second to last track is 93 year old Pete Seeger with a chorus of children singing Forever Young.  Followed by Bob himself, with the title track.

Go get it right now!