“Most of them [the songs on “Oh Mercy”] are stream-of-consciousness songs, the kind that come to you in the middle of the night, when you just want to go back to bed. The harder you try to do something, the more it evades you. These weren’t like that.”
~Bob Dylan (to Edna Gundersen, 21 September 1989)
While it would be unfair to compare ‘Oh Mercy’ to Dylan’s Sixties recordings, it sits well alongside his impressive body of work.
~Clinton Heylin (Behind The Shades)
Daniel Lanois (born September 19, 1951 in Hull, Quebec) is a Canadian record producer, guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter.
Lanois has released several albums of his own work. However, he is best known for producing albums for a wide variety of artists, including Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Peter Gabriel, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, and Brandon Flowers. Lanois also collaborated with Brian Eno: most famously on producing several albums for U2, including the multi-platinum The Joshua Tree. Three albums produced or co-produced by Lanois have won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Four other albums received Grammy nominations.
Published on Mar 20, 2012
Producer Daniel Lanois talks with Drive Host, Rich Terfry on ‘The Making Of’ Bob Dylan’s ‘Oh Mercy‘:
“Wrecking Ball is a leftfield masterpiece, the most wide-ranging, innovative, and daring record in a career built on such notions. Rich in atmosphere and haunting in its dark complexity…The fixed point remains Harris’ voice, which leaps into each and every one of these diverse compositions — culled from the pens of Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Earle, and others — with utter fearlessness, as if this were the album she’d been waiting her entire life to make. Maybe it is.” – Jason Ankeny (Allmusic)
Wrecking Ball is the eighteenth studio album by Emmylou Harris, released on September 26, 1995 throughElektra Records. Moving away from the traditional acoustic sound for which she had become known, Harris collaborated with rock producer Daniel Lanois and engineer Mark Howard. The album has been noted for atmospheric feel, and featured guest performances by Steve Earle, Larry Mullen, Jr., Lucinda Williams and Neil Young, who wrote the title song.
I saw Emmylou Harris live for the first time this summer, it made me go back and listen to all her albums again, with added interest and new-found love of her music. Not that I had ever lost it, but it felt fresh and deeper after the show in Oslo.
Wrecking Ball is my favourite Harris album, and I rank it among the 30 best albums ever made.
Emmylou Harris talks about Sweet Old World and sings the song with Neil Young:
Daniel Lanois was born September 19, 1951 in Hull, Quebec) he is a Canadian record producer, guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter.
Daniel Lanois has released several albums of his own work. However, he is best known for producing albums for a wide variety of artists, including Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Peter Gabriel, Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson. Three albums produced or co-produced by Lanois have won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Four other albums received Grammy nominations.
I have picked 8 favourites among his great work, listed in chronological order:
Of the virtues, I suppose I think integrity is the most essential. Not dignity – a thief can have dignity.
~Bob Dylan (to Barbara Kerr, Feb 1978)
‘Dignity’, which describes so resourcefully the yearning for a more dignified world, would have been the album’s [Oh Mercy] ideal opening track. It scorches along musically, declaring its allegiance to the timeless appeal of the blues, while sounding, above all things, fresh. Its lyric, meanwhile, though ‘Dylanesque’ in that it sounds like no-one else’s work and sounds like a restrained, mature revisit to a mode of writing you might otherwise call mid-1960s Dylan, is fully alert and freshly itself, admits of no leaning on laurels, and has the great virtue that while not every line can claim the workaday clarity of instructional prose, the song is accessible to anyone who cares to listen, and offers a clear theme, beautifully explored, with which anyone can readily identify.
~Michael Gray (The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia)
@ #43 on my list of Dylan’s 200 best songs. It was originally recorded for “Oh Mercy” in 1989, but Dylan wasn’t satisfied with it… and left it. Michael Gray points out that it would have been a perfect opening track to the album… way better than “Political World”… only thing missing was an instrumental solo in the middle.
I will not mess with too many details around the songs recording history.. even Clinton Heylin calls Dignity’s recording history a bit… messy….
Officially we now have 5 different versions available:
Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Volume 3 Brendan O’Brien remixed version
MTV Unplugged Live version
The Best of Bob Dylan, Vol. 2 Touched By An Angel version*
The Bootleg Series Vol. 8 Piano demo version
The Bootleg Series Vol. 8 Tell Tale Signs version2
* First released on the album “Touched By An Angel: The Album” – TV Series soundtrack compilation (1998)