Bob Dylan has recorded a song for a compilation EP with a same-sex love theme called “Universal Love.” Dylan’s contribution to the six-song EP, which also features Kesha, St. Vincent, Ben Gibbard, Valerie June and Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke, comes with a characteristic twist: Reflecting his recent covers-heavy albums, he’s covered the 1929 song “She’s Funny That Way” with the lyrical variation “He’s Funny That Way.” News of the EP, which is released Friday (April 6), was first reported by The New York Times.
Dylan is not the first to alter the pronoun in the song — which has been covered by Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Etta James, Liza Minelli, Nat King Cole and many others since it was featured in the 1931 film “Gems of MGM” — but the point is made.
“If you look at the history of pop music, love songs have predominantly come from one heterosexual perspective,” said Tom Murphy, a co-producer of “Universal Love,” said. “If we view music as something that brings people together, shouldn’t these popular songs be open to everyone?”
The album was funded by MGM Resorts International and its songs are intended to function as wedding anthems for same-sex couples. Gay weddings account for between 20 percent and 30 percent of the ceremonies performed at the company’s 15 hotels in Las Vegas, said the company’s chief executive, Jim Murren.
Several of the tracks have lyrical alterations, which required permission from the songs’ music publishers. “The response was completely positive,” said Rob Kaplan, the project’s executive producer, who noted that Dylan did not just agree, “It was, ‘Hey, I have an idea for a song.’”
Other tracks include Gibbard covering the Beatles’ “And I Love Her” (changed to “Him”) and June covering “Mad About the Boy” as “Girl.” Kesha chose Janis Joplin’s “I Need a Man to Love.” “For years I said that I’m not getting married until any two people can legally marry in this country,” she said — and is now an ordained minister who has wed to two gay couples.