Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rhett Miller on Bob Dylan giving permission for "Champaign, Illinois"

Just got off the phone with Old 97's frontman/solo artist Rhett Miller.

He was at the Stewart International Airport near his home in Hudson Valley, N.Y.

Shaky cell connection and 15 minute limit — Miller had another phoner coming in as soon as my time ran out — didn't allow for the lengthy type piece I did with him previously.

But we covered some cool topics including the long genesis of "Champaign, Illinois," off the Old 97's latest album "Grand Theatre Vol. 1."

The song sets new lyrics to the Bob Dylan classic "Desolation Row."

Miller said it took a decade to get permission for release. The band's new manager finally found a way to get a recording of "Champaign, Illinois" to Dylan last year.

"Then they told me he wanted to read the lyrics," Miller said. "So I frantically started typing."

Dylan's reaction?

"This is great."

Miller now shares a songwriting credit with Dylan on "Champaign, Illinois."

"It's a huge honor," he said.

Look for my feature on Miller to run in the Herald —I'll link to it here as well — prior to the Old 97's' March 2 performance at Skipper's Smokehouse in Tampa. WMNF (88.5) is presenting the show.


Martin Davies said...

A bit confusing, Dylan wrote a different song entitled Champaign Illinois.
Carl Perkins covered it.

Tatu said...

..Yeah, but Carl Perkins wrote it with Dylan. Bob had the melody and a couple of lines & Perkins wrote the rest of it, the story goes.. Anyway, it's a Dylan-Perkins song.

raggedclown said...

I love the sound of the band. Can't hear the words too well, though.

Wade Tatangelo said...

Link to Miller's lyrics: