Robbie Robertson Tries to Turn Record Releases Back Into Art

Musician and music supervisor Robbie Robertson attends the ‘Shutter Island’ special screening after party at Rouge Tomate on February 17, 2010 in New York City.

This is a good year for Robbie Robertson.Earlier this year, The Band’s former guitarist, songwriter and leader released “How to Become Clairvoyant,” his first solo album in 13 years, and it was a commercial and critical success.Now, Robertson has a limited-edition collector’s set of the album. Lovingly assembled, it is an LP-scale box that spans an art book, an individually numbered set of five lithographs (including examples by the noted artist Richard Prince and photographer Anton Corbijn), a collection of tarot cards and the original album. Plus, for music lovers, there are also10 bonus cuts. The artwork includes Prince’s stylings on a photo of a 17-year-old Robertson.“You can’t get this on a CD or a DVD, a true intersection between art and music,” he observed. “I’m really enjoying the process,” he said, pronouncing the word as “PRO-cess, in recognition of his upbringing in Toronto.Keeping his foot on the gas, Robertson has his hands full with coming projects. He’s currently working on the songs for a follow-up solo album. He’s finally getting to the business of writing his autobiography — after a few aborted attempts in the past — with an eye toward a publication date possibly in 2013.

Robertson, who has played precious few gigs since The Band retired at The Last Waltz concert in 1976, has agreed to play a 20-minute set in October to honor WXPN in Philadelphia. When I asked him if he might play one of his Band gems during the gig, he smiled and said, “Hmmm. It’s possible.”

The SLG, Savoy Jazz and Denon Records catalogs are available for purchase at the following sites: