By Annie Reuter
It’s hard to believe that throughout its 40-plus-year history, the Charlie Daniels Band has never released an acoustic album. Charlie Daniels realized this recently when the band provided music for a TV show called Hell on Wheels.
“We were asked to do some music for it, and we had to use instruments that were around in the 1800s, which precluded anything electric,” Daniels told Radio.com. “Everything had to be acoustical. We were so pleasantly surprised by the outcome that we decided to do an album.”
A fan of Bob Dylan, Daniels was a session player on several of Dylan’s albums including Nashville Skyline, Self Portrait and New Morning. While he had covered a few of Dylan’s songs in the past, he didn’t decide to record an album of Dylan songs until now.
The latest release from the Charlie Daniels Band (CDB) is Off the Grid – Doin’ It Dylan, which includes ten re-imagined Dylan tracks. They’re not just faithful copies, though; Daniels explained that he was determined to put a fresh spin on each song.
“We just picked songs that we could put our mark on. We treated it as new material,” Daniels said. “I didn’t want to copy an arrangement that he had done or even the people who had covered his music had done. I wanted it to be a totally fresh approach to the Dylan tunes. That was the criteria.”
Daniels said that two of the new arrangements that might most surprise listeners are the CDB’s versions of “Gotta Serve Somebody” and “Tangled Up In Blue.”
In addition to the songs, Daniels also had high praise for Dylan himself. When he first met Dylan back in the 1960s, and played on those legendary sessions, it was a period when the press and others had painted Dylan as “reclusive,” “eccentric” and “unapproachable.” As Daniels explained, though, “that was a bunch of bunk. When I went in the studio, this guy was so down to earth. He was having fun, he had a sense of humor, he was conversational. He was great to be around. And that was the tone of the album.”
The Charlie Daniels Band’s Off the Grid – Doin’ It Dylan is out now.