In 2000, the chanteuse you see here released an album titled I Am Shelby Lynne. It correctly identified her. But Lynne seemed less certain in 2003 when she put out Identity Crisis. That ambiguity continues this month with her new CD, Just a Little Lovin’. On it, she croons the tunes of ’60s songstress Dusty Springfield. Rumor has it Lynne’s next disc will be titled Seriously, Who Am I?
A Musical Memorial
Shelby Lynne sings Dusty Springfield, thanks to Barry Manilow. By Bob Mehr
Barry Manilow writes the songs, and he’s also the one who inspired his pal Shelby Lynne to cover Dusty
It’s not easy to cover a legend, especially when that legend has recorded hundreds of songs. “Phil and I compared lists. We probably started with 20 songs and [then] narrowed them down a little at a time. For me,” says Lynne, “the important thing in choosing was that it couldn’t just be stuff from Dusty in
The best way to make the songs your own? Record them fast. “We recorded the whole thing in five days,” Lynne recalls. “We cut two songs a day, and that was it. The cool thing about making the record is we didn’t have any arrangements. We went into the studio with the musicians, picked a key, and played the songs like a band would and until it felt right. Some things happened quickly; some things took a bit longer. But as a whole, it started just melding together. It turned out to be more of a soul record than anything. And keeping Dusty in mind as one of my favorite soul singers, I think she’d be really happy with it.”
Five other great artist-to-artist tribute albums.
Merle Haggard + Jimmie Rodgers = Same Train – A Different Time, 1969: Haggard, the Poet of the Common Man, pays loving homage to the Singing Brakeman as he updates Rodgers’s train songs and hobo laments with a touch of the Bakersfield Sound.
Harry Nilsson + Randy Newman = Nilsson Sings Newman, 1970: Coming off the success of “Everybody’s Talkin’,” his Midnight Cowboy soundtrack smash, Nilsson flipped the classic tribute record formula by recording an album not to a known star but to Newman, who, at the time, was an undiscovered talent.
Jennifer Warnes + Leonard Cohen = Famous Blue Raincoat, 1987: A former backup singer for Cohen and a folksy ’70s hit maker in her own right, Warnes turned heads with this powerful, modern take on the catalog of the poetic Canadian. The record’s success helped spark a critical reappraisal and career comeback for Cohen.
Irma Thomas + Dan Penn = My Heart’s in Memphis: The Songs of Dan Penn, 2000: New Orleans vocal queen Thomas samples the best sides from Southern soul man Penn — author of hits for Aretha Franklin, the Box Tops, and James Carr — on this contemporary R&B classic.
Robyn Hitchcock + Bob Dylan = Robyn Sings, 2002: British postpunk/ psych-folk icon Hitchcock indulges his Dylan obsession with a two-CD set of covers, including a live disc that re-creates the Great White Wonder’s historic 1966 Royal Albert Hall concert.