What would you do if someone told you it was up to you to finish some old songs Bob Dylan had lying around?
That’s the question facing Marcus Mumford, Elvis Costello, Jim James (of My Morning Jacket), Taylor Goldsmith and Rhiannon Giddens (of the Carolina Chocolate Drops) in Showtime’s new original documentary, Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued, which documents the making of the new album Lost On the River: The New Basement Tapes.
Dylan’s The Basement Tapes is one of his most cherished releases, and its mythology is well-established. Recuperating from a motorcycle accident in 1966 in upstate New York, Dylan cut a number of loose, jammy demos with the backing group from his most recent tour, who would eventually go on to become famous in their own right as The Band.
Dylan and The Band cut more than 100 originals, covers and old ballads with varying degrees of polish, and bootlegs from the sessions became widely circulated until a few were issued by Columbia Records as a proper album in 1975. A staggering six-disc release, The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11, is coming out Nov. 4, and that’s where Showtime’s work picks up.
The film, from director Sam Jones (responsible for the Wilco documentary, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, follows T Bone Burnett and his assembled band as they embark on a two-week odyssey to complete an album from Dylan’s unused lyrics. The work also includes an exclusive new interview with Dylan himself and a cameo from Johnny Depp.
The Basement Tapes Continued airs Friday, Nov. 21, on Showtime. Lost On the River: The New Basement Tapes, will be released by Electromagnetic Recordings/Harvest Records on Nov. 10.