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November 24, 2011 / jhsaeger

Amnesty International Set to Release Ambitious Dylan Project


    The calendar has yet to turn to 2012 and Amnesty International may have already clinched the most ambitious music project of next year.  The international human rights advocacy released information on Thursday that they will release Chimes of FreedomThe Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International on January 24, 2012.  80 artists will cover 75 songs by Bob Dylan (including one track by Dylan himself) on the four-disc set to raise awareness for the organization.

     The 80 artists on the set will cover every segment of the musical spectrum.  Neo soul act Raphael Saadiq will open the first disc with “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” and will be immediately followed by a cluster of singer-songwriter Patti Smith, punk rockers Rise Against, Tom Morrello (as his stripped-down alter-ego The Nightwatchman), The Who’s Pete Townsend, as well as other artists like reggae’s Ziggy Marley, a mariachi band, and Sting – and that’s just some of the first disc.  Other notables on the compilation include Queens of the Stone Age, Elvis Costello, Jackson Browne, Adele, Nils Lofgren (with Paul Rodgers), Steve Earle, and Pete Seeger.  Dubious selections for the project include Maroon 5 and… Miley Cyrus?  Granted, their inclusion will undoubtedly help the idea behind the project, as it will raise awareness and funds from an audience atypical of the Dylan crowd, but I suppose we’ll have to wait and see how well they mix in with the vast group.   
   This is not the first time Amnesty International and musicians have combined efforts.  The organization released a similar John Lennon project to benefit Darfur in 2007.   In 1986, the Conspiracy of Hope Tour hit five U.S. cities to raise funds for the group.  Also, in 1988, the 20-date Human Rights Now! tour performed in five different continents to packed stadiums.  Artists of the caliber of Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Joan Baez, U2, and Bob Geldof played in many of these events.  
   Chimes of FreedomThe Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International will be available as a four-disc set or as a digital download.  It is hard to imagine a more eclectic group of artists covering such a singular career as Dylan’s, but it will be interesting to see how they can spin Dylan’s lyrics into their own style.  
   Here, in what is perhaps the most enjoyable rendition of Twist and Shout/La Bamba you will ever see, is from the Human Rights Now! concert in Argentina in 1988:

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