But whatever you call this labor-of-love project, there's one thing Bob Dylan does not want you to call it: his "Sinatra covers album."
These are old songs, written between the early 1920s and the early 1960s, some of which have become bona fide jazz standards ("Autumn Leaves"), others of which were minor hits when they were first recorded ("Full Moon and Empty Arms"), and there's even the odd gem ("Stay With Me") that has been overlooked by audiences since its first appearance on an obscure single.
All these songs have one thing in common: They were recorded by Frank Sinatra at some point (in some cases, several points) in his career.
"I don't see myself as covering these songs in any way," Dylan said in a statement last December. "They've been covered enough. Buried, as a matter a fact. What me and my band are basically doing is uncovering them. Lifting them out of the grave and bringing them into the light of day."
In a way, Dylan is treating the massive Sinatra catalog as an open bazaar from where he has decided to rearrange and reinterpret specific areas to create a new, wholly Dylanesque work. It's the same process he applied to the folk standard canon in his first album in 1961 and the kind of artistic practice he has continued in his forays into fine art, where he works in the same appropriation and resignification field as artists like Richard Prince.
"In folk and jazz, quotation is a rich and enriching tradition," he told Rolling Stone magazine in 2012, speaking about his use of lines from Civil War poet Henry Timrod and others in some of his recent songs. "As far as [...] Timrod is concerned, have you even heard of him? Who's been reading him lately? And who's pushed him to the forefront? Who's been making you read him?"
The same could be said of the following Sinatra-related songs, which will surely be given new life into the 21st century by Dylan's selection process:
"I'm a Fool to Want You" (Sinatra, Wolf, Herron): First recorded by Sinatra in 1951, with an arrangement by Axel Stordahl, in New York for Columbia Records. It was B-side to novelty single "Mama Will Bark" (with Dagmar, a busty chorus girl and early TV starlet). It's a rare songwriting credit for Sinatra, who's much better known as an interpreter of others' material. "Frank changed part of the lyric, and made it say what he felt when he was doing it," explained cowriter Joel Herron in the book "Frank Sinatra: An American Legend." "We said, 'He's gotta be on this song!' and we invited him as cowriter." At the time the singer had left his first wife Nancy to be together with Ava Gardner, whom he was hoping to marry after his divorce had been finalized. He recorded a second version in 1957 in Hollywood at the legendary Capitol Tower, this time arranged by
"The Night We Called It a Day" (Dennis, Adair): Originally published in 1941, Sinatra also recorded this in 1957 at the Capitol Tower for "Where Are You?," arranged by Gordon Jenkins. There are other notable pop versions by Chet Baker, June Christy and Doris Day, and a great jazz arrangement by Milt Jackson and John Coltrane. Trivia fact: The song gives its original title to a bizarre 2003 Australian movie (also know as "All the Way") with Dennis Hopper playing Frank Sinatra and
"Stay With Me" (Moross, Jerome): Originally known as "Stay With Me (Main Theme from 'The Cardinal')" and featured in the soundtrack of a 1963 social melodrama directed by
"Autumn Leaves" (Mercer, Kosma, Prevert): Yet another song recorded by Sinatra for "Where Are You?" in 1957 at Capitol with arrangements by Gordon Jenkins, in the same session as "The Night We Called It a Day." "Autumn Leaves," a jazz standard, was originally written in 1945 in France by Hungarian composer Joseph Kosma and poet Jacques Prevert as "Les Feuilles Mortes" ("Dead Leaves"). Sublime lyricist
"Why Try to Change Me Now" (Coleman, McCarthy): Sinatra recorded this twice. The first version, from 1952 (arranged by
"Some Enchanted Evening" (Rodgers and Hammerstein): One of the showstoppers from 1949's hit musical "South Pacific," of course, Sinatra recorded it three times, first when the song was fresh, for a 1949 Columbia single arranged by Axel Stordahl, which didn't sell as well as contemporary versions by Perry Como and Bing Crosby. Sinatra rerecorded it in 1963 with
"Full Moon and Empty Arms" (Rachmaninoff, Kaye and Mossman): Yes, Rachmaninoff as in the famous Russian composer, from whose Piano Concerto No. 2 Kaye and Mossman adapted the melody in 1945. Sinatra had a minor hit on Columbia with it, and it was later done by Eddie Fisher and Sarah Vaughan. It was the track chosen by Dylan to give a sneak peek into the project back in May 2014.
"Where Are You?" (Adamson, McHugh): The title song from 1957 heartbreak concept album "Where Are You?" (and by this point, it should be clear, one of the inspirations of Dylan's "Shadows in the Night"). By the time Sinatra got around to recording it the song was 20 years old, originating in the 1937 film "Top of the Town." The early hit version was by Mildred Bailey in the 1930s, but Sinatra made it his. There are many other good versions, including those by Shirley Bassey, Dinah Washington and this writer's favorite songstress,
"What'll I Do" (Berlin): The oldest song on the set, written by Irving Berlin in the early 1920s for a Broadway revue. Jazzman
"That Lucky Old Sun" (Smith, Gillespie): "Shadows in the Night" closes with the most soulful of the songs Dylan selected. Composed in 1949 as a kind of late-era spiritual/work song, it was recorded by Louis Armstrong, but