Lost Bob Dylan lyrics get the Mermaid Avenue treatment on new album

An artist as prolific as Bob Dylan must have countless stacks of half-formed songs and scribbled lyrics -- and hundreds of abandoned acetates -- forming a dusty creative trail all the way back to the '60s. It's easy to say that these long-forgotten musical castaways would be an improvement on today's recycled folk-rock, but we'll get to find out for sure when some "lost" scribbles are brought to life on Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes and an accompanying documentary.

Akin to the Mermaid Avenue albums released by Billy Bragg and Wilco, and centered on the lyrics of Woody Guthrie, the collection will feature a series of contemporary musicians breathing life into songs that come from unseen Dylan lyrics from his historic 1967 Basement Tapes sessions.

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Produced by T Bone Burnett, the album will feature contributions from Elvis Costello, Jim James, Marcus Mumford, Johnny Depp, Dawes' Taylor Goldsmith, and Rhiannon Giddens of Carolina Chocolate Drops.

The album is slated for release this fall, accompanied by a Showtime documentary, Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued, which is directed by Sam Jones, who helmed the Wilco documentary, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.

Dylan has granted Burnett permission to flesh out his 50-year-old lyrics, a stamp of approval that energized this project and the musicians working on bringing Bob's lyrics to life. "Great music is best created when a community of artists gets together for the common good," Burnett explains. "There is a deep well of generosity and support in the room at all times, and that reflects the tremendous generosity shown by Bob in sharing these lyrics with us."

The musicians convened in Capitol Studios in Los Angeles to record two dozen arrangements that will form the musical backdrop to Dylan's lyrics. Jones's documentary will give fans a behind-the-scenes glimpse of these modern-day recording sessions, as well as tie these new songs into the legendary original Basement Tapes sessions from 1967, when a reclusive Dylan was recovering from a horrible motorcycle accident and recorded nearly 100 songs with various friends as well as The Band over the course of many months.

"The discovery of these previously unknown Bob Dylan songs that were thought lost since 1967 is the stuff of Hollywood fiction and a find of truly historical proportions," Jones says. "It is a unique opportunity to film T Bone and these great artists as they collaborate with a young Bob Dylan, and each other, to create new songs and recordings. These days and nights in the studio have been nothing less than magical."

The full tracklist and official release date have not yet been revealed, but you can sign up for updates at the New Basement Tapes official website, and they will share more information on the project as it becomes available.

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