April 9: Bob Dylan released Nashville Skyline in 1969


Bob dylan nashvilleskyline

 

April 9: Bob Dylan released Nashville Skyline in 1969

Well, Jann, I’ll tell you something. There’s not too much of a change in my singing style, but I’ll tell you something which is true… I stopped smoking. When I stopped smoking my voice changed… So drastically, I couldn’t believe it myself. That’s true. I tell you, you stop smoking those cigarettes (laughter)… and you’ll be able to sing like Caruso.
~Bob Dylan (to Jann Wenner Nov 1969)

Anyway, on Nashville Skyline you had to read between the lines. I was trying to grasp something that would lead me on to where I thought I should be, and it didn’t go nowhere – it just went down, down, down.
~Bob Dylan (to Jonathan Cott, Sept 1978)

Released 48 years ago, it surely is one of his most controversial albums.. “Embracing” classic Country music &  kicking off the “Country Rock” genre.

I’ve always liked this album… not a masterpiece, but a solid Dylan album.

#1 – Girl from the North Country (with Johnny Cash)

Released April 9, 1969
Recorded February 12–21, 1969
Genre Country rock
Length 27:14
Label Columbia
Producer Bob Johnston

Nashville Skyline is the ninth studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released in April 1969 by Columbia Records.

Building on the rustic style he experimented with on John Wesley HardingNashville Skyline displayed a complete immersion into country music. Along with the more basic lyrical themes, simple songwriting structures, and charming domestic feel, it introduced audiences to a radically new singing voice from Dylan—a soft, affected country croon.

The result received a generally positive reaction from critics, and was a commercial success. Reaching number 3 in the US, the album also scored Dylan his fourth UK number 1 album.

bob dylan nashville skyline back

(Some of) the Recording sessions:

bob dylan nashville skyline 1969 5

context

…To his chagrin, the press continued to promote him as the spokesman of his generation.

“Not only did I not want it, but I didn’t need it. I couldn’t understand it either. None of us like to be defined by what other people think of us. I wasn’t the toastmaster of any generation and that notion had to be pulled up by the roots.”
~Bob Dylan (to John Preston, Sept 2004)

Songs

“I Threw It All Away” was another hit single for Nashville Skyline. Riley (music critic Tim Riley) describes it as “a glimmer of honesty from a person who has taken love for granted, squandered its rewards, and lived to sing about it.”

Love is all there is, it makes the world go ’round
Love and only love, it can’t be denied
No matter what you think about it
You just won’t be able to do without it
Take a tip from one who’s tried
(BD – I Threw It All Away)

“Lay Lady Lay” turned out to be one of Dylan’s biggest pop hits, reaching #7 in the US, and giving him his biggest single in three years. “Lay Lady Lay” was originally written for the film Midnight Cowboy, but Dylan did not deliver it in time for it to be included in the score. He was initially reluctant to authorize the single’s release, but eventually approved at the insistence of Columbia president Clive Davis.

…There’s a movie out now, called Midnight Cowboy. You know the song on the album Lay Lady Lay? Well, I wrote that song for that movie. These producers, they wanted some music for their movie. This was last summer. And this fellow there asked me, you know, if I could do some music for their movie. So I came up with that song. By the time I came up with it, though, it was too late.
~Bob Dylan (to Jann Wenner Nov 1969)

Lay, lady, lay, lay across my big brass bed
Lay, lady, lay, lay across my big brass bed
Whatever colors you have in your mind
I’ll show them to you and you’ll see them shine
~Bob Dylan (Lay Lady Lay)

#6 – Lay Lady Lay

Jann Wenner: On Nashville Skyline, do you have any song on that that you particularly dig? Above the others.
Dylan: Uh… Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You. ….

The standout song here for me, the track that best captures (and transcends) the mood of the whole set, is ‘Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You’
~Paul Williams (BD – Performing Artist 1960-74)

#10 – Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You

Sources: Wikipedia, referred books, Dylan interviews

Bob Dylan Johnny Cash Nashville

Some interesting opinions:

In the end, Nashville Skyline is a lovely album but not a heavyweight contender, though its effects were major ones. Country music was despised, hick music when Dylan took it up. People were divided into the hip and the non-hip. The counterculture was in full swing and riddled with its own self-importance and snobbery. Nashville Skyline was a hard pill to swallow: but it did ’em good.
~Michael Gray (Bob Dylan Encyclopedia)

…Nashville Skyline was a full-fledged country album, complete with steel guitars and brief, direct songs. It’s a warm, friendly album, particularly since Bob Dylan is singing in a previously unheard gentle croon — the sound of his voice is so different it may be disarming upon first listen, but it suits the songs.
~Stephen Thomas Erlewine (allmusic.com)

So here he is, folks, Homebody Bob, singin’ ten songs for your listenin’ pleasure — well, nine, actually one is a hoedown sort o’ thing. Everyone knows by now, I hope, how intense that pleasure is. But hasn’t anyone noticed something odd? ….. but no one mentioned that by the mere trick of changing his entire vocal style, Dylan had crossed us up again, that “Nashville Skyline” was a bigger switcheroo than “John Wesley Harding.” It is touching that everyone wants to believe Bobby has settled down, but don’t bet on it. All those protestations of easy innocence may be just one more shuck.
~Robert Christgau (Village voice – May 1, 1969)

bob dylan nashville skyline 2

Track Listing

Side one

  1. “Girl from the North Country” (with Johnny Cash) – 3:41
  2. “Nashville Skyline Rag” – 3:12
  3. “To Be Alone with You” – 2:07
  4. “I Threw It All Away” – 2:23
  5. “Peggy Day” – 2:01

Side two

  1. “Lay Lady Lay” – 3:18
  2. “One More Night” – 2:23
  3. “Tell Me That It Isn’t True” – 2:41
  4. “Country Pie” – 1:37
  5. “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You” – 3:23

My grades (0-10):

nashville skyline grades

 Personnel

  • Bob Dylan – guitar, harmonica, keyboards, vocals
Additional musicians
  • Norman Blake – guitar, dobro
  • Kenneth A. Buttrey – drums
  • Johnny Cash – vocals
  • Fred Carter, Jr. – guitar
  • Charlie Daniels – bass guitar, guitar
  • Pete Drake – pedal steel guitar
  • Marshall Grant – bass guitar on “Girl from North Country”
  • W.S. Holland – drums on “Girl from North Country”
  • Charlie McCoy – guitar, harmonica
  • Bob Wilson – organ, piano
  • Bob Wootton – electric guitar on “Girl from North Country”
Technical personnel
  • Bob Johnston – production
  • Charlie Bragg – engineering
  • Neil Wilburn – engineering

bob dylan 1969 2

Spotify

Also check out -> Bob Dylan albums @ Alldylan

-Egil

7 thoughts on “April 9: Bob Dylan released Nashville Skyline in 1969”

  1. Nashville Skyline, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, Workingmans Dead. They all came out about the same time. The Byrds album was the headset for me to wrap my head around but it’s been a favorite for years. One of the few that I can listen to over and over with out tiring.

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  2. I spoke to Norman Blake once, when he and Nancy did a show at the Cactus Café in Austin. I asked him about Nashville Skyline, if he played the dobro parts. He said no, that Charlie Daniels did the dobro parts, and that he, Norman Blake, did the flatpicking (acoustic guitar) parts.

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