Willy Mason, Marissa Nadler, Gregory Alan Isakov, Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo, and many other indie songwriters we’ve featured over the years have teamed up with producer Jim Sampas for a collection of original songs inspired by Jack Kerouac’s 1960 novella, Tristessa. Reimagine Music — the label behind Dylan and Rolling Stones cover sets noted in 2010, as well as a 2011 Nirvana tribute — are releasing the 16-track Esperanza: Songs From Jack Kerouac’s Tristessa next week (9/17). In addition to his work producing the new Kerouac-related film Big Sur and 2008 documentary One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur, Sampas’ name might ring a bell to anyone familiar with Ben Gibbard and Jay Farrar’s joint 2009 LP, which was a continuation of the latter film project.
Today, we’re honored to premiere Willy Mason‘s contribution: a lovely, first-person fever dream of bittersweet lost and found romance in the streets of Mexico City. Built sparely upon acoustic finger-picked Flamenco triplets and a melancholic fiddle, his vision of Tristessa recalls shades of Bob Dylan’s Desire and Leonard Cohen’s “Seems So Long Ago, Nancy,” a song Marissa Nadler referenced in her own impressive cut. Also a standout from the set is Gregory Alan Isakov’s “O City Lights” previewed here. Stream Mason’s excellent track above and pick up the whole set via iTunes here.