Chrissie Hynde on How Bob Dylan’s New Songs Inspired Covers Series
The Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde reflected on the conclusion of her quarantine-era Bob Dylan covers series, detailing how the folk legend's recent song "I Contain Multitudes" sparked the whole idea.
"[It's] fucking devastating," she told Rolling Stone of the track, which appears on Dylan's June-issued 39th LP, Rough and Rowdy Ways.
She was also inspired by the songwriter's 17-minute "Murder Most Foul," which he released in March — early in the COVID-19 pandemic, during a time where Hynde was in an "odd frame of mind."
"It brought back my whole childhood and my past,” she said of the cut. “I remembered exactly where I was sitting in the sixth grade at my desk when the news [of JFK’s assassination] came over the Tannoy [P.A.] system. Then I was thinking about Bob and how significant he’s been throughout my lifetime — and everyone’s lives. I’ve gone to see shows of his, and there are grown men, older than me, standing up, like, in tears just because he’s there.”
For her eight-part "Dylan Lockdown Series" — all of which are available below — Hynde teamed with Pretenders guitarist James Walbourne, and add their own twists to songs throughout the artist's catalog. They launched the project in late April and issued the final installment, "Tomorrow Is a Long Time," this week.
Hynde told Rolling Stone she struggled with some elements of the series: adding her own touch to some of Dylan's lyrics, avoiding potential negativity from hardcore "Dylanologists." But she said reinterpreting the singer's material has been an "interesting and fun thing to do." "I’m very grateful to have the time to do this, because otherwise I’d be on a tour bus right now," she added.
Hynde's Dylan endeavor follows a full covers album, 2019's Valve Bone Woe, featuring jazz-styled versions of the Beach Boys' "Caroline, No," Nick Drake's "River Man" and the Kinks' "No Return," among others.
The Pretenders released their 11th studio album, Hate for Sale, in July. It's their first LP since 2002 to feature original drummer Martin Chambers.