I'm Not There [Original Soundtrack]

I'm Not There [Original Soundtrack]

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by Bob Dylan
     
 

For his impressionistic 2007 Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There, director Todd Haynes hired an army of six actors to portray the singer/songwriter, each thespian representing a different phase or public persona of Dylan's career. The accompanying double-disc soundtrack -- not all of its 34 songs are used in the film -- employs a similar conceit, as Haynes and hisSee more details below

Overview

For his impressionistic 2007 Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There, director Todd Haynes hired an army of six actors to portray the singer/songwriter, each thespian representing a different phase or public persona of Dylan's career. The accompanying double-disc soundtrack -- not all of its 34 songs are used in the film -- employs a similar conceit, as Haynes and his music supervisors, Randall Poster and Jim Dunbar, rounded up rockers and folksingers of all stripes to reinterpret and re-create portions of Dylan's immense catalog. Taken as a whole, neither the singers nor the selections are too conventional, as the album alternates between standards and obscurities, old cohorts and new blood, faithful renditions and original interpretations, never tipping too far in either direction or staying in one place too long. Despite that shifting mood, I'm Not There gels as an album, partially because a good portion of the soundtrack is recorded with one of two different house bands: the dusty, cinematic Arizona outfit Calexico and the Million Dollar Bashers, a supergroup assembled for this gig featuring guitarist Lee Ranaldo and drummer Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth, Tom Verlaine, Dylan's regular bassist Tony Garnier, Wilco guitarist Nels Cline, guitarist Smokey Hormel, and organist John Medeski. Haynes also used a similar house band on his previous rock & roll film, the glam rock fantasia Velvet Goldmine and, as a soundtrack, I'm Not There is equally as good, if not quite as risky or flashy as that 1998 gem. That's partly due to the inspiration, of course: on Velvet Goldmine he got to play with the history of a lot of groups, all known for their extravagant flamboyance, but here he only has one artist, but if any musician has a history as rich as a battalion of bands, it's Bob Dylan. Haynes, Poster, Dunbar and crew concentrate heavily on the '60s -- the film, after all, is grounded in the '60s, pulling in elements of Dylan's life in the '70s and beyond, including his born-again Christianity and Rolling Thunder outlaw stance, but never quite straying from that foundation -- and the soundtrack touches upon all of Bob's '60s incarnations, including the folk troubadour, thin wild mercury music, the ragged Americana of The Basement Tapes, and the reflective country-folk of John Wesley Harding. Familiar sounds may be here, but not necessarily familiar songs -- Haynes, Poster and Dunbar deliberately sidestep standards like "Blowin' in the Wind," "Masters of War," "Subterranean Homesick Blues," and "Like a Rolling Stone," choosing instead to build this soundtrack around songs that weren't widely released during the '60s, later to surface on The Basement Tapes, Biograph, The Bootleg Series, during the film of No Direction Home, or, in the case of the heavily bootlegged title song, released here for the first time. Some could carp that this doesn't quite make for an accurate picture of Bob -- it ever so slightly continually circles back to the stark, spooky melancholy of Dylan and the Band's "I'm Not There," which ends the album -- but it's not inaccurate, either. Rather, it's an interpretation of Dylan's music, emphasizing certain elements and blurring others to paint a portrait where the traditional bleeds into the contemporary and vice versa. Any Dylanologist could spend hours deconstructing the soundtrack to I'm Not There -- what is selected and why, why certain songs are reinterpreted while others are left alone -- but that's a side benefit to an album that should be enjoyed first as simply an absorbing, entertaining listen. Poster and Dunbar have paired performers with the songs almost perfectly, alternating between subtle surprises and sure picks. No other band could duplicate the haunted quality of Dylan's "I'm Not There," but Sonic Youth is the ideal match, as they give the song a hazy beauty and a warmth lacking in the original. Sonic Youth's masterful reading is less of a surprise than how Roger McGuinn and Willie Nelson effortlessly blend in with Calexico on "One More Cup of Coffee" and "Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)," respectively, giving these songs arrangements that expand on the originals, just like how Ramblin' Jack Elliott's "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" takes the Highway 61 Revisited standard and stripes it down to its essence. John Doe gives "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine" a subdued, soulful passion that contrasts with both Sufjan Stevens' twee-ed-up "Ring Them Bells" and Mark Lanegan's gothic "The Man in the Long Black Coat," yet all speak vividly to the spiritual undercurrents in these songs. Despite their gentle version of "Just Like a Woman" with Charlotte Gainsbourg, Calexico's cuts come the closest to reinventing the song, particularly on an excellent "Dark Eyes" with Iron & Wine and a good, weary "Goin' to Acapulco" sung by Jim James of My Morning Jacket. Mason Jennings is responsible for good, straight-ahead versions of the earliest folk songs ("The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll," "The Times They Are a Changin'"), acquitting himself well, while Once stars Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova do a joyous "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere." All this soft, dreamy folky material helps the harder cuts here -- including Cat Power's bluesy "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again" -- leap out all the more. Usually, this is the province of the Million Dollar Bashers, who when fronted by Stephen Malkmus on "Ballad of a Thin Man" and "Maggie's Farm" manage to re-create the snide, hipster spirit of 1965 Dylan. They pull off the same trick with Karen O on a rollicking and faithful "Highway 61 Revisited," while Tom Verlaine steps out to the front for a dark, epic "Cold Irons Bound," but this house band isn't the only band that rocks hard, either: the Hold Steady blow through "Can You Please Crawl out Your Window?" and the Black Keys have an heavy, ominous "Wicked Messenger" (not all that dissimilar to the Faces' version, but decidedly less fun). But no band truly gets to speak to the two extremes of Dylan's work (at least as pictured here) as Yo La Tengo, who have a delicate, beautiful "Fourth Time Around" and positively nail the wild, careening sound of 1965 on "I Wanna be Your Lover." They, alone among any of the artists here, get the opportunity to do these two sides of Dylan, but as I'm Not There definitively proves, there were not just two or even ten sides to Dylan: he contains multitudes. That much is evident on his own recordings, which still have power, but sometimes it takes a fresh perspective to hear what's already there, and the soundtrack to I'm Not There provides that perspective in way few other albums do.

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Editorial Reviews

Billboard - Jeff Vrabel
Dylan turns in the first official release of the oft-bootlegged title track with the Band, recently discovered in Neil Young's archives.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/30/2007
Label:
Sony
UPC:
0886971203820
catalogNumber:
712038
Rank:
59847

Tracks

Disc 1

  1. All Along the Watchtower  -  Million Dollar Bashers
  2. I'm Not There
  3. Goin' to Acapulco  - Jim James
  4. Tombstone Blues
  5. Ballad of a Thin Man  -  Stephen Malkmus & The Million Dollar Bashers
  6. Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
  7. Pressing On  - John Doe
  8. Fouth Time Around
  9. Dark Eyes  -  Iron and Wine
  10. Highway 61 Revisited  -  Karon O & the Million Dollar Bashers
  11. One More Cup of Coffee  -  Calexico
  12. The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
  13. Billy, Pt. 1  -  Lobos
  14. Simple Twist of Fate
  15. Man in the Long Black Coat
  16. Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)  -  Calexico

Disc 2

  1. As I Went out One Morning
  2. Can't Leave Her Behind  -  Stephen Malkmus & The Million Dollar Bashers
  3. Ring Them Bells  - Sufjan Stevens
  4. Just Like a Woman  - Charlotte Gainsbourg
  5. Mama, You've Been on My Mind/A Fraction of Last Thoughts on Woody Guthr  - Jack Johnson
  6. I Wanna Be Your Lover
  7. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere  -  Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova
  8. Can You Please Crawl out Your Window?
  9. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues  - Ramblin' Jack Elliott
  10. The Wicked Messenger  -  Black Keys
  11. Cold Irons Bound  -  Tom Verlaine & the Millions Dollar Bashers
  12. The Times They Are a Changin'
  13. Maggie's Farm  -  Stephen Malkmus & The Million Dollar Bashers
  14. When the Ship Comes In  -  Marcus Franklin
  15. Moonshiner
  16. I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine  - John Doe
  17. Knockin' on Heaven's Door  -  Antony and the Johnsons
  18. I'm Not There  - Bob Dylan

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Bob Dylan   Primary Artist
Hubert Sumlin   Background Vocals
Willie Nelson   Guitar,Vocals
Richie Havens   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals
Loudon Wainwright   Guitar
Mark Lanegan   Vocals
Lee Ranaldo   Acoustic Guitar,Piano,Rhythm Guitar,Tambourine,Siren
John Sebastian   Harmonica
Tom Verlaine   Guitar,Vocals,Slide Guitar
Nels Cline   Guitar,Electric Guitar
Mickey Raphael   Harmonica,Echo Harp
Terry Adams   Piano
Carla Azar   Percussion,Drums
Steve Berlin   Keyboards
Chris Bruce   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Background Vocals
Paul Bryan   Bass
Joey Burns   Acoustic Guitar,Piano,Accordion,Cello,Glockenspiel,Electric Guitar,Background Vocals,Upright Bass,Bowed Banjo,Guitar (Nylon String)
Greg Cohen   Bass
Brian Deck   Piano,Bongos,Marimbas
George Drakoulias   Percussion
Buckwheat Zydeco   Organ
Doug Easley   Guitar
Bob Forrest   Vocals
Tony Garnier   Bass
Kim Gordon   Guitar
Portia Griffin   Background Vocals
David Hidalgo   Guitar,Accordion,Keyboards,Vocals
Mabon "Teenie" Hodges   Guitar
Kelly Hogan   Background Vocals
Georgia Hubley   Drums,Vocals
Vincent Jones   Keyboards
Ira Kaplan   Guitar,Vocals
Greg Leisz   Dobro,Guitar,Mandolin
Conrad Lozano   Bass
David Mansfield   Fiddle
Jean McClain   Background Vocals
Roger McGuinn   Vocals,Guitar (12 String Electric)
John Medeski   Piano,Hammond Organ,Wurlitzer
Thurston Moore   Bass,Vocals
Peter Phillips   Guitar
David Piltch   Upright Bass
David Ralicke   Horn
Cesar Rosas   Background Vocals,Bajo Sexto
Doug Shaw   Guitar
Steve Shelley   Drums
Jeff Tweedy   Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Vocals
Eddie Vedder   Vocals
Jay Bellerose   Percussion,Drums
Smokey Hormel   Guitar
Jebin Bruni   Hammond Organ
John Convertino   Percussion,Drums,Bass Drums
Eric Heywood   Pedal Steel Guitar
Dave Smith   Bass
Stephen Malkmus   Vocals
Louie Pérez   Jarana
Rick Steff   Piano,Hammond Organ
Doyle Bramhall   Electric Guitar
Glenn Kotche   Drums
James McNew   Bass
Walter Parks   Acoustic Guitar,Background Vocals
Paul Niehaus   Pedal Steel Guitar
Charlotte Gainsbourg   Vocals
Chan Marshall   Vocals
Craig Finn   Guitar,Vocals
Fernando Valencia   Violin
Tim Albright   Trombone
Kevin Barker   Acoustic Guitar
Cougar Estrada   Percussion,Drums
Franz Nicolay   Keyboards
Glen Hansard   Guitar,Harmonica
Rob Bochnik   Bass
Sufjan Stevens   Acoustic Guitar,Percussion,Piano,Voices,fender rhodes
Jim James   Vocals
Tad Kubler   Guitar
Casey Foubert   Bass,Guitar,Background Vocals,Lap Steel Guitar
Sam Beam   Guitar,Piano,Vocals
Patrick Carney   Drums
James McAlister   Percussion,Drums,Background Vocals,Electronic Drums
Dan Auerbach   Bass,Guitar,Vocals
Jacob Valenzuela   Trumpet
Martin Wenk   Trumpet
Volker Zander   Upright Bass
Tim Luntzel   Bass
Bryce Dessner   Electric Guitar
Mira Billotte   Vocals
Galen Polivka   Bass
Salvador Duran   Vocals
Salvador Gallegos   Vihuela
Kyle B. Resnick   Trumpet
C.J. Camerieri   Trumpet
Ben Lanz   Trombone
Markéta Irglová   Banjo,Vocals
Marla Hansen   Viola,Background Vocals
Bob Cesare   Help
Josh Schwartz   Guitar
Marco Rosano   Baritone Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Hideaki Aomori   Saxophone

Technical Credits

Bob Dylan   Composer
Lee Ranaldo   Producer
John Agnello   Producer,Engineer
David Bianco   Engineer
Joey Burns   Producer
Greg Calbi   Mastering
Brian Deck   Producer,Engineer
Karl Derfler   Engineer
George Drakoulias   Producer
Jim Dunbar   Producer
Kevin Killen   Engineer
Stewart Lerman   Engineer
David Mansfield   Producer
Roger Moutenot   Producer,Engineer
Jeff Rosen   Executive Producer
Jeff Tweedy   Producer
Randall Poster   Producer
Robert Carranza   Producer,Engineer
Craig Schumacher   Engineer
Stephane "Alf" Briat   Engineer
Ryan Freeland   Engineer
Boo Macleod   Engineer
Fernando Valencia   String Arrangements
Glen Hansard   Producer
Traditional   Composer
Rob Bochnik   Engineer
Sufjan Stevens   Producer,Engineer
Jack Johnson   Composer
Mason Jennings   Producer
Todd Haynes   Producer
Casey Foubert   Producer,Engineer
Sam Beam   Producer
James McAlister   Producer,Engineer
Chad Weis   Engineer

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