Bruce Springsteen: Dion, The Saxophone, My Wife Patti’s Vocal

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Writer Alan Paul, interviewed Dion for the Wall Street Journal and managed to also grab some phone time with Bruce Springsteen, who appears on Dion’s fabulous new record Blues With Friends

Dion has  returned on June 5th with a star-studded new album called Blues With Friends. Across 14 tracks, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is joined by the likes of Bruce

Here are a few excerpts from Alan’s full conversation with Springsteen, taken from his personal blog (alanpaul.net)

“Hey, Alan! It’s Bruce!”

Hi Bruce. Thank you so much for calling.  I just hung up with Dion an hour ago and he said to tell you thank you again.

Oh, that’s great!

He told me his version of how you ended up on the song, but I’d like to hear it from you, so let’s start there and then talk about Dion.

It was really though Patti. Dion asked Patti to do something on the music and I was in the studio with her and she said, “Why don’t you put something on here if you have any ideas.” So I got to play a little guitar, which I like to do. Always like to do.

I love Dion and I have, gosh, since I heard ‘Teenager in Love’ on my mom’s radio as a small boy. That was the first thing I heard and you know we became friendly over the years and he’s just one of those guys whose artistic curiosity has never left him, which is very unusual for musicians. It usually fades, or they lose it somehow, but Dion has remained musically curious throughout his entire life and made all kinds of different kinds of records and has continued using what is probably one of the great white pop voices of all times in creative ways. That’s very inspiring.

“Patti was really kind of producing the session, so she gave me a lot of direction as to where to go. She’s quite good at production.”

Dion Di Mucci and wife Suzy in 1957

“She had all these different vocal parts and it was just incredibly creative. It was really something… I didn’t know where she was going with it until she was finished, and she spent quite a few hours just very carefully layering part after part after part until something really happened. It was a great day in the studio.”

It was just fun! It was… Patti was really kind of producing the session, so she gave me a lot of direction as to where to go. She’s quite good at production.

“I picked up a Gretsch guitar, which has a tremolo bar on it. That’s what Duane Eddy played, so that defines a little bit the sound you’re going to get, where you’re going sonically, and Patti was assisting melodically and just telling me what she was hearing, and I really was there supporting her.”

“She made it easy and it was fun. It’s an incredible song and it’s really just very, very difficult to write well about that subject and not sound preachy. He just wrote a beautiful hymn.”

The saxophone solos on Dion’s classic hits:

“First of all, it all swung like crazy. You put on “Ruby Baby,” “The Wanderer, “Runaround Sue” … all of these things have a swing, you know? And then the other thing is the sax… the great, great sax solos.”

“Obviously when Clarence and I got together, and after Clarence passed away and Jake [Clemons] got in the band, I said, “These are some essential saxophone parts that you just need to know if you are going to work in our band.” The sax solos from the Dion records are certainly part of that.”

“I wanted those big, swinging sax solos. That sound! All of these solos… you can hum them. They’re melodic and built from such concrete melodically. [Sings “The Wanderer” sax solo.] You can sing them and I wanted people to be able to sing Clarence’s solos. They’re formal. They are not improvisations. They’re actually quite formal. That just, I don’t know, it just ingested into my music somehow.”

Dion discussed the song’s origins in a statement to Rolling Stone: “I’ve always liked Patti’s voice and I’ve been a fan of hers for quite a while. She has this soulful vibrato thing going on and I heard it in my head when I thought about doing this song. I’ve always had it on my mind because I think a song doesn’t get tired, although the singer might. I just never got that song to where I wanted it to live until now.”“When Patti was listening in the home studio they have, Bruce heard what she was doing and he thought he’d add a try a little something on guitar,” Dion added. “And it was terrific, what he did add just so much gravitas.Take a listen below. Pre-orders for Dion’s Blues With Friends are now ongoing.

Dion DiMucci’s upcoming LP Blues With Friends (out June 5th) features an amazing assortment of guest artists, including Van Morrison, Jeff Beck, Billy Gibbons and Paul Simon along with new liner notes written by Bob Dylan. Patti Scialfa and husband Bruce Springsteen also appear, performing “Hymn to Him.”

DiMucci picked the artists himself and he thought that the track, which originally appeared on his 1986 LP Velvet and Steel, would be perfect for Patti Scialfa. “I’ve always liked Patti’s voice and I’ve been a fan of hers for quite a while,” he says. “She has this soulful vibrato thing going on and I heard it in my head when I thought about doing this song. I’ve always had it on my mind because I think a song doesn’t get tired, although the singer might. I just never got that song to where I wanted it to live until now.”

 

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