Mary Lee's Corvette - Blood On The Tracks (August 13, 2002)
Mary Lee's Corvette - 700 Miles (April 8, 2003)
Mary Lee's Corvette had already released two albums when Mary Lee Kortes, the band's singer/songwriter/guitarist and core member, decided to record a live recreation of Dylan's Blood On The Tracks. The album, subsequently released on Bar/None, impressed critics, fans... and even Mr. Dylan himself, who asked Mary Lee's Corvette to open for him. The band went on to record 2003's 700 Miles for Bar/None, produced by Mary Lee's husband (and Americana icon Eric "Roscoe" Ambel.) PopMatters called it "a modest little record that niggles its way into your head, and charms the hell out of you, just like the last album did."
Mary Lee's Corvette will perform Dylan's Blood On The Tracks as part of a 75th Birthday Celebration for Bob Dylan at Mexical Live (1409 Queen Anne Road, Teaneck) on Tuesday, May 24. For more information, visit MaryLeesCorvette.com.
Mary Lee's Corvette performing "More Stupider" from 700 Miles in 2007
Mary Lee Kortes:
I have these patchwork memories of how it all got started. And I’m not sure I have the sequence right. But around the time I had self-released the Mary Lee’s Corvette version of Blood on the Tracks, I began running into Glenn everywhere. I saw him at local gigs, a music conference, a show at Town Hall. We kept remarking on it to each other, a bit incredulous. I don’t usually believe in signs, but it felt like it was indicative of something.
Maybe I should believe in signs, or something like that, because the recording of “Blood” came about through a string of very happy accidents. I hadn’t even planned on recording it, but the night before the show I ran into a friend and Dylan fan, Dennis Urenik, who said, “You’re recording it, right?” I said, “No way, I’ll probably suck.” “You gotta record it, ML. It’s DYLAN!” His words stayed with me and as I was leaving the house I decided to grab a DAT, but there weren’t any blanks. However, there was a trusty blank cassette tape.
A truly amazing night ensued, and all the details are on the liner notes of the CD, but a couple things stand out. I thought that “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts” would be a good place to break up the show a bit and have a guest singer from the audience join us. Plus I wasn’t sure I could sustain the crowd’s interest for all 16 verses. Of course, who would volunteer for something like that but a random amateur Dylan impersonator. (Ran into the guy some months later; turns out he was a lawyer who almost got fired by his firm for this brazen act.) The sound man was recording the show on that precious, lone cassette tape, and as side one was closed to getting used up by the end of “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go,” he flipped it over. But he wasn’t able to get the recording started before we began “Meet Me In The Morning.” So when I was first thinking of releasing it, being in between records and all, my hopes were dashed when I discovered that the beginning of “Meet Me” wasn’t there at all. I was bemoaning this to my band when the drummer, Diego Voglino, lightly chirped, “Oh I had my disc man going the whole time, so I’ve got it!” So we took the beginning from there, and the rest…well if you listen closely you will notice a difference in balance that shifts gradually from the beginning to the middle of the song.
Around that time, I started writing the songs for 700 Miles. Jill Richmond had heard them and told Glenn that he should start paying attention to me. Jill was the publicist on my first record and achieved things I never thought I’d see, including a feature story in Billboard. I was so certain that no one would ever hear my music that I even put a song about a closeted relative on that CD. Oops! As our Blood on the Tracks started to get some attention, it got Glenn’s. I was horribly excited. Another label wanted it, but Bar None’s history and cred made it an easy choice. And I quite simply loved Glenn and Mark. So we signed on to each other’s journeys and it was a thrilling one for me.
That record led to so many things, including playing with the original Blood band in Minneapolis and even opening for Bob himself at the Hammerstein Ballroom. He actually came on stage during my sound check. I turned around at one point and saw Tony Garnier standing by a keyboard and wondered who the little guy in the cowboy hat was standing next to him. Then I saw those eyes. We even got four stars in Rolling Stone. That’s like three with one to spare. I remember when I got the news from the publicist. My first call wasn’t to my Mom or even my band mates, but to Glenn. “Look what we did!” I squealed. I bet his ears are still ringing.
Dylan's "Buckets of Rain" and Mary Lee's "One More Sun," recorded at Rodeo Bar, NYC, in 2007, at the 10-year anniversary of the release of the 1st Mary Lee’s Corvette album.