The Wallflowers’ Jakob Dylan still searching for the perfect song
The Park City Institute will present the Wallflowers as part of the St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights Summer Concert Series at 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 24, at City Park. Tickets are $49 and $89. They can be purchased by visiting www.bigstarsbrightnightsconcerts.org.
Jakob Dylan feels a feeling of accomplishment when he looks back at his 25-year career as a musician and leader of his band the Wallflowers.
“You would hope you’re recording material that you want to play down the line,” Dylan said. “Otherwise you would have to stop and wonder what you’re doing.”
The Wallflowers are known for the 1996 album “Bringing Down the Horse,” and the singles “6th Avenue Heartache” and the Grammy-winning “One Headlight.” And Park City will get the chance to hear those songs and others that span Dylan’s career when he plays a Park City Institute St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights concert at 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 24, at City Park.
“We run the whole career and there are a lot of records we get to,” he said. “We don’t focus on one record.”
Although Jakob Dylan, the 48-year-old son of Bob Dylan, has written songs for most of his life, he continues his mission to write the perfect song.
“The main thing for a lot of songwriters, including myself, is you’re never finished,” he said. “You’re always looking for that one song that has not been written but sounds like it’s been around for a long, long time. That’s what keeps a lot of songwriters up most of the night; I think that’s what keeps them motivated during the day.”
Trying to write that song is like looking for a needle in a haystack, and the creative process isn’t always the same, he said.
“For me it’s usually a line — or something you hear — that pops in your head. And it occurs to you that the line or thought is worthy enough to build a song around,” he said. “The line is not necessarily a lyric. It can be a concept or a title that needs to be a song.”
Throughout his career Dylan has gotten used to the hard work required to write a song.
“I’ve learned more and more as years have gone by to get out of the way of the words,” he said. ”You don’t have to overthink, over-philosophize or over-intellectualize them. These are words and you need to let them become a song.”
Dylan said he often believes the last song he writes will be the last song he will ever write in his career.
“It’s because you put a lot into it and then you have to have to start over and wait for something else to come to you,” he said.
Dylan also believes there is a bottom to his creative well.
“Some people have been doing this for 60 years, and they still keep motivated and keep finding depth in the well,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s endless.”
So Dylan is always finding new ways to dig deeper. One way to do so is by collaborating with other people. He has worked with producers including T Bone Burnett, Andrew Slater and Michael Penn.
“This is an opportunity to learn something and see how the others live,” Dylan said. “It’s a way for you to get out of your stubborn habits. You always hope you do get a chance to write with someone.”
The songwriter also said he approaches his craft with a sense of realism.
“You never have to reach everybody, but if (your music) means something to some people as often as it can, then it’s a good venture to be on,” he said. “I suppose one of the rewards of what I do is reaching someone or some people that (the) music has comforted sometime during their lives.”
In addition to reaching people with his music, Dylan also gets involved with charity work that raises awareness of diabetes, colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Since 2012 he has performed at Connecting to Cure’s annual event that raises awareness and funds for Crohn’s and colitis research. Connecting the Cure is a nonprofit that raises awareness about the diseases and provides a network for famiilies.
“There are things that I care about, and my participation is genuine,” he said. “I feel that if you’re receiving plenty, you should be giving something back in some way, and I’m grateful that I have a name and opportunity that will lend attention to things that I believe are important and need to be addressed.”
These days, as a songwriter and band leader, Dylan is working on a new album.
“My future does not involve making a new hot sauce or something like that,” he chuckled. “I’ll let other people do that. In the meantime, I’ll just stay in my lane and try to find things I can be good at.
“There are no parameters,” he said. “Anyone can do what they want, but you don’t have to think you have to be good at everything. Not every dream is worth chasing.”
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