Music News: Bob Dylan musical will be set in Duluth

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A postcard view of the steamship 'Noronoic' in Duluth Harbor, 1930.
A postcard view of the steamship 'Noronoic' in Duluth Harbor, 1930. (Minnesota Historical Society)

A new musical featuring the existing songs of Bob Dylan is opening next month in London. Written by acclaimed playwright Conor McPherson, the story — it's just been revealed — will be set in Depression-era Duluth.

According to a synopsis, "the events of the play take place in Duluth, Minnesota during the Great Depression. A troubled family own a guest house, which is home on a rolling basis to a range of lost souls travelling through the area. One of the characters, Nick Laine, thinks he has found a way out of the situation."

"It's about a week in their lives with the guests passing through," says the playwright, "and we have this beautiful opportunity to use Dylan's songs as part of that. There's no musical instruments used that wouldn't have been there in the 30s and that allows us to reveal the prehistory, as it were, of those songs from before Dylan was born, almost as though that music flowed from the airwaves and into his DNA." (Perfect Duluth Day)

Meanwhile, Rolling Stone got a look at some of the Dylan archive now being cataloged at the University of Tulsa. The contents are truly remarkable: every raw tape from the sessions for every Dylan album. Never-before-seen video of Dylan in the studio. Drafts of lyrics at every stage of the songwriting process.

The collection is now accessible only to select scholars and journalists; a permanent museum is planned. "It opens up a world to Dylan scholars that we didn't know existed," says Clinton Heylin, who's written several books about the artist.

Adam Clayton opens up about struggle with alcoholism

On Monday night at a MusiCares benefit concert, Adam Clayton thanked Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, and his U2 bandmates for supporting him during his recovery from alcoholism. The bassist received the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award for his own support of others struggling with addiction. "This is very unusual," said Clayton. "An award for not doing something."

Performers at the benefit included Macy Gray, Jack Garratt, the Lumineers, and U2 themselves. (Rolling Stone)

Turmoil at Pandora

Pandora CEO Tim Westergren has resigned, the latest development in the once-dominant streaming service's struggle to compete with growing players like Spotify and Apple Music. As consumers moved to services that would allow them to play any song they wanted (as opposed to Pandora, a service that didn't let users select songs directly), Pandora was slow to make deals that would allow them to give customers more options. Investors are hoping that a management shakeup can help turn things around. (New York Times)

Aretha falls ill

Aretha Franklin has canceled a scheduled July 1 performance at the Toronto Jazz Festival, citing "doctor's orders." The Queen of Soul, 75, recently acknowledged that her touring days may be coming to an end — but she's planning to make this cancellation up to her Canadian fans with a performance at the Toronto Jazz Festival next year instead. (Billboard)

Britney claps back to lip-sync haters

In a new interview, Britney Spears says she's sick of being criticized for lip-syncing during her shows. "A lot of people think I don't sing live," says the pop star. "Because I'm dancing so much, I do have a little bit of playback, but there's a mixture of my voice and the playback. It really pisses me off because I'm busting my ass out there and singing at the same time and nobody ever gives me credit for it, you know?" (Billboard)


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