In liner notes for Dion’s upcoming Blues with Friends album, Dylan schools us on why Dion matters
When Dion asks, people say yes. Even if these people are among the most legendary rockers around. Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, Jeff Beck, Paul Simon, Joe Bonamassa, Billy Gibbons and other luminaries all got the call from The Wanderer himself with an invitation to play on his new album, Blues with Friends. And they all said yes.
Dion, who spoke to us today in an interview to be published next week, said he was surprised by the enthused response from those he invited, and even more by the level of musicianship they brought to his music. “They played things I just never would have expected,” he said. “It was amazing.”
It also surprised him that Bob Dylan agreed to write liner notes, and then sent him these beautifully poignant, lyrical words in his honor, which are reprinted below. “I figured I would ask him,” said Dion. “but I never knew if he would say yes. And then I read what he wrote. Wow.”
But although this surprised Dion, in truth this klnd of reverence from rock & roll royalty is nothing new. Dion and Dylan were, after all, the only two modern artists to be included on the famous cover of Sgt. Pepper, along with the other icons chosen by the lads.
But he’s a humble guy, and is quick to deflect praise when people get too reverential. He’s a musician at heart, and one with genuine gratitude for his place in this world. Still, that esteem in which he’s held by legends, as well as the rest of the world, becomes hard to deny after reading what Dylan’s words about him.
So in advance of our new interview with him, which will come with a premiere of one of the album’s most special songs, we bring you this, Dylan on Dion:
Notes for Blues with Friends
By Bob Dylan
With a Vaudevillian Father and the Doo-wop street corners of the Bronx as teachers, Dion learned early on that the way to be heard and reach hearts was to sing in his own rhythmic voice. And when you have a voice as deep and wide as Dion’s, that voice can take you all the way around the world and then all the way back home to the blues.
You have to be careful with the blues. They’re strong with lust and you can overpay for them, but they quote the law. It’s a shame more people don’t follow that law. Guy Mitchell sang that he never felt more like singing the blues and we know what he meant. It is an honor for honor’s sake.
Dion knows how to sing and he knows just the right way to craft these songs, these blues songs. He’s got some friends here to help him out, some true luminaries. But in the end it’s Dion by himself alone, and that masterful voice of his that will keep you returning to share these blues songs with him.