Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde has announced a new album of Bob Dylan covers, Standing in the Doorway: Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan.
The nine-track collection will be released digitally on May 21 and then physically in both CD and vinyl format a few months later on Aug. 20.
Hynde’s Dylan covers began as a mostly casual affair for an eight-part YouTube series she launched with Pretenders guitarist James Walbourne. The project was inspired by her being off the road last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as Dylan’s latest album, 2020’s Rough and Rowdy Ways.
“A few weeks into lockdown last year, James sent me the new Dylan track, ‘Murder Most Foul,’” Hynde said in a statement. “Listening to that song completely changed everything for me. I was lifted out of this morose mood that I’d been in. I remember where I was sitting the day that Kennedy was shot – every reference in the song. Whatever Bob does, he still manages somewhere in there to make you laugh because as much as anything, he’s a comedian. He’s always funny and always has something to say. I called James and said, ‘Let’s do some Dylan covers,’ and that’s what started this whole thing.”
She and Walbourne began revisiting some of their favorite songs from Dylan’s catalog and recording them together over the phone, though she admitted to Rolling Stone last summer that she was well aware of the high standards Dylan fans tend to set for cover albums.
“You don’t want to fuck up a Dylan song and have thousands of Dylanologists gunning for you,” she said, noting that she considered potential lyrical changes. “These days, you don’t have to change the gender of a lyric because it doesn’t matter anymore. That was always a problem in the past, since sometimes it kind of compromises the song. Like, if it didn’t sound right to change, ‘She loves me’ to ‘He loves me,’ let’s say. These days, you can do anything.”
Listen to Chrissie Hynde & James Walbourne’s Dylan Lockdown Series 01
Hynde devised a new way of presenting the songs without compromising their lyrical integrity.
“There was one second verse in ‘What’s a Sweetheart Like You’ that said ‘She used to call me sweet daddy when I was only a child,’” she said. “And I thought, ‘That’s gonna be really awkward. I couldn’t figure out how to make that mine. So I went through the archives of different versions he’s done and found a Spanish translation that had a different verse, so I just used that one. I mean, he sang it in English, maybe it wasn’t the official, and then I thought, ‘Oh, these guys are gonna come after me now and say, ‘That’s not what he wrote.’ But it is what he wrote.”
In addition to the digital release of the album, a documentary on the making of the album, Tomorrow Is a Long Time, will air on Sky Arts on May 24, Dylan’s 80th birthday.
You can view the track listing for Standing in the Doorway: Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan below.
Chrissie Hynde, ‘Standing in the Doorway: Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan’ Track Listing
1. “In the Summertime”
2. “You’re a Big Girl Now”
3. “Standing in the Doorway”
4. “Sweetheart like You”
5. “Blind Willie McTell”
6. “Love Minus Zero / No Limit”
7. “Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight”
8. “Tomorrow is a Long Time”
9. “Every Grain of Sand”