Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Happy 79th Birthday, Bob Dylan: Flashback to a Rare 1969 Gospel Album of Dylan Songs Featuring the Great Merry Clayton


It’s Bob Dylan’s 79th birthday. We’re celebrating, of course, but also anticipating his new album in a couple of weeks.

So for Bob’s birthday I thought we’d go back to 1969 to a little known album called “Dylan’s Gospel.” The great Lou Adler produced it for his then new Ode Records. Within two years, Ode would take off with Carole King, and Cheech and Chong, among others.

For “Dylan’s Gospel,” an album of Dylan covers, Adler brought in some stunning singers including Merry Clayton (the Rolling Stones, Carole King) and Gloria Jones– the very same Gloria Jones who had a soul hit in the UK with “Tainted Love,” a song Soft Cell would cover in 1979 and turn into a new whole new hit again.

The group called themselves “The Brothers and the Sisters.” There were so many terrific singers including Clydie King, Edna Wright, and so on. All the names are on Wikipedia.

I’m putting the Spotify embed below, and a promotional documentary. But first, Merry Clayton singing “The Mighty Quinn,” which had been a Dylan cover hit for Manfred Mann. Merry, a superstar, makes this a candidate for best track on the album. Merry, out on the West Coast, we salute you as always.

Dylan wasn’t into gospel in 1969. But ten years later he was, just think of “Tight Connection to My Heart.” Adler, as with everything, was ahead of his time. “Dylan’s Gospel” was a flop but it was re-released, I just learned, in 2014. Who knew?

Happy Birthday, Bob! Thanks, Lou and Merry and Gloria.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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