Music fans who go to see Bob Dylan Sunday at the Lakeview Amphitheater might very well hear songs written by Syracuse native Son Jimmy Van Heusen. Dylan has been playing music from Van Heusen’s heyday, the Great American Songbook, on recent albums and in recent concerts.
(Full Interview Below)
Brook Babcock is Van Heusen’s great nephew and oversees the music catalog. He says Dylan has recorded 10 Van Heusen songs n recent albums, 8 on the latest release called Triplicate, a three-record vinyl set.
Wall Street Journal and Vanity Fair Music writer Will Freidwald says popular recordings by Frank Sinatra are likely what drew Dylan to the Van Heusen selections.
“My feeling about Dylan’s standards’ albums is it speaks to the diversity and integrity of the American Songbook that you can have such diverse interpretations of the same material. The American Songbook is the only body of work where you have people as different as Frank Sinatra and Bob Dylan singing the same song and it can be fundamentally different yet it’s fundamentally the same.”
Babcock appreciates the interpretation Dylan brings t songs that have been around since the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s.
“Two of my songs that I really enjoy listening to Bob Dylan sing, one being ‘All The Way’, it is rough. It’s just a different take on it, different interpretation. The other one is ‘September of My Years’. I have just recently turned 56; I did not get that song at age 46; I didn’t get it at 36. But as I have gotten older, as I have aged, ‘September of My Years’ speaks to me.”
He adds, like Sinatra, Dylan is drawn to the songs at a certain time in his life and career.
“He’s playing the music that he feels best expresses himself at this moment in time and he’s doing a great job of it.”
Freidwald observes it’s nothing new for Dylan to take a song and transform it into something unique.
“Interpretation, improvisation and composition can be very closely interrelated. Dylan has famously started by taking a traditional folk song and turned it into one of his own songs. “
Live Space Entertainment Executive Producer Tom Honan says people who go see a performance are seeing virtuoso musicians who can artfully shift between the genres Dylan might play at a concert.
“He uses his touring band for these arrangements. I think these musicians are equally adept at adapting to all kind of genre of music...and his leadership of that band is kind of cool in what he inspires them to do and creates this new version of these songs, based on the whole history of it, but it puts his own spin on it.”
Jimmy Van Heusen was born in Syracuse as Chester ‘Chet’ Babcock in 1913. He went on to write hundreds of songs, 88 recorded by Frank Sinatra, others for the Bing Crosby ‘Road’ movies. He won four academy awards for songwriting and an Emmy Award.