Columbia RecordsIn his first interview in three years, Bob Dylan chats with AARP magazine at length about Shadows in the Night, his upcoming album of standards, which will be released on February 3.

Dylan reveals he’d been thinking about making an album like Shadows in the Night, which features 10 songs that Frank Sinatra recorded during his career, “ever since I heard Willie [Nelson]’s Stardust record in the late 1970s.” He adds, “All through the years, I’ve heard these songs being recorded by other people and I’ve always wanted to do that.”

The 73-year-old singer/songwriter notes that it was important for him to do justice to the songs he covered for the project, which include such classics as “Autumn Leaves,” “Some Enchanted Evening” and “What’ll I Do.”

“I love these songs, and I’m not going to bring any disrespect to them,” he maintains. “To trash those songs would be sacrilegious.”

Dylan also suggests that the ultimate versions of the tunes were Sinatra’s renditions, noting that the late crooner set the bar very high indeed.

“When you start doing these songs, Frank’s got to be on your mind. Because he is the mountain,” Bob tells the magazine. “That’s the mountain you have to climb, even if you only get part of the way there.”

Dylan says one of the things he admires about Sinatra is that “he had this ability to get inside of the song in a sort of a conversational way. Frank sang to you — not at you.”

Asked whether he felt it was risky attempting to sing songs associated with Sinatra, Dylan fires back, “Risky? Like walking across a field laced with land mines? Or working in a poison gas factory? There’s nothing risky about making records.”

He adds, “Comparing me with Frank Sinatra? You must be joking. To be mentioned in the same breath as him must be some sort of high compliment. As far as touching him goes, nobody touches him. Not me or anyone else.”

With regard to what Sinatra might have thought about his album, Bob says he thinks that Frank may have appreciated his stripped-down approach to the material.

“I think first of all he’d be amazed I did these songs with a five-piece band,” Dylan says. “I think he’d be proud in a certain way.”

Dylan also discusses the enduring nature of the standards he recorded for Shadows in the Night, admitting that he now feels a closer connection to those tunes than some of his own compositions.

“It’s easier for me to sing that song than it is to sing, ‘Won’t you come see me, Queen Jane,'” he says. “Because ‘Queen Jane [Approximately]’ might be a little bit outdated. But this song is not outdated. It has to do with humane motion. There’s nothing contrived in these songs. There’s not one false word in any of them. They’re eternal.”

Visit AARP.org to read the full interview with Dylan, which features him talking about his musical influences, his admiration for soul/gospel legend Mavis Staples, his reasons for retreating from the limelight during the late 1960s, his love of touring and much more.

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