Ok, so it seems I’m in a Dylan phase…then again, Dylan has always been part of my life, from an early age when his harmonica blared in the backseat of my parent’s car as we made what seemed like the endless drive from Connecticut to NYC to visit our relatives who still lived there then.
Without getting into too many details, I want to explain how this single came to be, and why I would tackle a song that has been covered literally hundreds (if not thousands) of times, including one of the all-time covers of any song, by the one and only Jimi Hendrix.
The short version is that a few years back (before he won the Nobel Prize), I started an album of Dylan songs – songs I knew I could do in my own way. That album will hopefully be done by the Fall, but I can’t promise anything – Inshallah!
The album is like a world-music disc covering vastly different genres, but it holds together due to the voices, instrumentation and other “red threads” to borrow a Swedish expression. 😀
This song – Watchtower – is a song from that album, but it’s quite different from the others due to the dance vibe…that’s why I chose to focus on finishing it first and releasing it as a single (plus the instrumental version).
The song has gone through a couple of incarnations and as you can imagine, it has been a group effort. On the track you hear my voice and acoustic guitars, an original beat I created, but also analogue drums played by maestro James Bradley Jr, the drummer I’ve worked the most with over the past decade. The fantastic electric guitar work is by virtuoso Edwin Ziberg. Vocals by the illustrious Elin Jakobsson. Keyboards by the incomparable Alexander Baginski Ekroth. Initial mix by multi-instrumentalist, composer and production wizard Jonathan Segel, of Camper Van Beethoven. Finally, the one to turn it into the dance-track that it has become as you hear it, a drummer who seems to be able to play literally any genre (including his own brand of live drum-and-bass), virtuoso and production mastermind Marque Gilmore!
My thought in making the track was to create something that would stay true to the original Dylan track from 1968 when it first appeared on the mystical album John Wesley Harding, plus as an homage to Hendrix’ immortal cover which was released only 6 months later – one which Dylan himself much admires and who he himself has come to emulate during concerts (Watchtower is one of his standard encores, that and Like a Rolling Stone).
Lastly, not that Dylan really needs it, but I see my rendition as a way of introducing his music to “the next” generation…
In short, a Watchtower of the times, for the people and to better times ahead. <3