Joan Osborne on recording with Bob Dylan: 'You've got to pay attention'

Joan Osborne is well-known as the Grammy-nominated singer of the hit “One of Us,” but the vocalist has shown a new side with her latest album, Songs of Bob Dylan, a collection of her personal takes on 13 of Dylan’s classic tunes. Sitting down with BUILD Series in New York City, Osborne recalled the time — back in 1998 — that she was actually invited to duet with the iconic Nobel Prize-winning artist for a song to be included on an NBC miniseries.

“My back was to the door when he walked into the room, but I could feel he entered the room,” she noted. “It was like the weather had changed.”

“As you can imagine I was kind of nervous to be in the studio with him, and in fact, once we actually got down to the recording of the song, we were on the same microphones. So my face was literally inches from Bob Dylan’s face,” she marveled. “But I have to say, his mind works so quickly, and he has this very restless intelligence. I had to focus literally on his mouth while he was singing so I could match my phrasing, with my harmony, to what he was doing. I had to focus so intensely that that nervousness kind of fell away.”

“You’ve got to pay attention to what he’s doing at all moments,” she concluded. “Or else, he’s so restless in his creativity, and brilliant, that he’s on to the next idea before anybody else is.”